[...] it is not unreasonable to simple state
that a suitable downloader must be provided before attempting to
run the installer.
I am sorry, George, I completely disagree. Someone seeking to install TeX
Live can reasonably be assumed to know a little about computer typesetting
and a little about using the operating system of his/her choice; there is
no *a priori* evidence that he or she knows anything more. Therefore, to
expect such a user to locate, download and install "a suitable downloader"
is (IMHO) completelu unreasonable. A suitable downloader should form an
integral part of the TeX Live installer, and automatically come therewith.
The need to support HTTPS is what started this thread. Downloaders that
support HTTPS brings in many new complications such as handling HTTP
redirects to HTTPS servers, cipher suites, and certificates.
Most users rely on vendors to make this work, and regular updates to keep
it going as the standards evolve. Supporting HTTPS with TeX Live's wget
may not be practical, and in any case is a large task.
I work in a government research institute, so there are many TeX
installations. I avoid Windows, but it is the "corporate standard" so I
can't completely avoid it. I use 2 applications (ESA SNAP, QGIS. both with
normal Windows installers and regular upgrades) that provide a curl.exe in
a "private" location within the application's folders. TeX Live users
often continue with their original version for years. There have been
problems where a user needed wget so copied the version from TeX Live to a
more convenient location. Then the US gov. got rid of their HTTP servers
and users ran into (difficult to diagnose) problems with wget and HTTPS
URL's. My experience says there are far too many downloaders floating
around on Windows systems already. As file servers move to https with
newer ciphers, downloaders that have not been updated stopped working.
Windows applications protect themselves by including a private downloader
(usually curl) that gets newer versions thru the application's own
Many installers based on more normal Windows standards include downloaders
and are easier for users than the TeX Live installer. If wget is not
included, and not alread installed by some other packages, there does need
to be support in the form of a list of Windows packages with good
installers that provide a downloader. I don't have anaconda python on
Windows because another work application (ArcGIS) provides a python
system. If the TeX Live installer uses an external downloader it may be
useful to provide a tool that generates a list (with versions) of already
installed downloaders and ask the user to choose the one they wish to use.
On Unix the priorities should have already been set using the PATH
variable, so the choice would be between wget, curl, and gnurl. On
Windows a search becomes more complex, so if a downloader is not found via
the PATH and maybe a few additional common locations, then the user may
have to enter the location for the downloader they wish to use.
George N. White III