Adobe Installation Woes – Please Insert Adobe Media To Continue

If you are a IT admin or a user of Adobe and have ever tried to use Adobe’s installers you have most likely ripped out your hair out on more then one¬†occasion.

Note the story is long watch the video if you don’t have time

Cover your kids ears!

Seriously let me go off on a rant here…. . I don’t know about you but corporations pay a lot of money to buy these programs, it’s Adobe you have no choice. ¬†With this kind of money spent on a program I would expect them to install the first time every time, you’re paying for quality and maturity in the application right? The Adobe developer team that creates these installers should be ashamed to call themselves developers. ¬†I have wasted more time on installs then I can ever remember in my life as an IT administrator. The¬†worst¬†part is that once you finally do get your software to start installing the installer must stop for a tea break because it takes 15+ minutes on a x64 machine to install. Adobe, why does it take 15 minutes plus to install a program? What is your installer doing? Most installers just expand some files to your system and do some¬†registry¬†connections and additions, a couple of icons and it’s done. But wait it even get better after this, after waiting 15 minutes for the install to run and you try to register the product it says “Sorry there are too many¬†activation¬† so you have to call and wait another 20 minutes on hold to the same looped 5 minute computerized song. Last time I called I had someone tell me that I need to activate my product by phone and that was my problem. I explained that no that was not the problem, the problem is that the¬†activation¬†have been used up for the product and if they could deactivate all other installs and add one ¬†install to the database I could activate it over the internet just¬†like¬†they do every other time I call. They told me the phone activation was the only way to fix this problem. Personally I know from working with Adobe support rats that arguing with them helps nothing so I just went along with it to get them off the phone. Even though I know that activating by phone will not allow me to deactivate the product later and I will have to call in again next time I need to activate this program. You can see the frustration on a single install¬†their¬†product can cause and this is¬†just¬†a normal day for a person trying to install Adobe products.

Warning long story… (I warned you!)

Back to the real problem at hand, the installer. So normally when you purchase Adobe Creative products online you have the option to purchase media for some extra cash which is around $30. The normal person will chose the option to just download the installer files¬†and just burn them to DVD. When you download your product the download usually gives you is a single exe self extracting compressed file or a small executable that expands a 7Z file to the destination of your choice. ¬†You download your files and run the exe to uncompress the files. For the most part it will run or ask to run the installer after the extraction is done. If you are one of the lucky few and get your product to install you will see that Adobe also nicely leaves all its extracted files behind for you to clean up, I hope you remember when you extracted them too! I joke that it’s kind of¬†like¬†when a MAC user borrow my thumb drive, the MAC OS leaves what I like to call “MAC poops” in every folder so you know where its been. So again thanks to the installer team for asking the option to clean up its mess. Because the extraction takes about 5 minutes on a fast machine, I decided to copy the extracted files to a DVD. This way you can¬†just¬†run the setup next time without waiting for files to extract. If you use the extracted files to continue the install you normally don’t have any issues. So you put your DVD of the files in your repository and wait for the next install.

2 weeks later you have another install to do so you grab the DVD you created and run the setup. The setup asks the normal questions as to where you want to install the program and language etc.. You are then presented with the summary screen and the final button to start the install. When you press the install button you get this generic annoying error:

The screenshot above are from different Adobe products.

To give Adobe some credit CS4 installer is much better then most CS3 installers because it actually tells you enough to be useless. As you can see by the first screenshot that you need to insert your media in the drive that the installer was started from. CS3 installers just tell you to insert your media to continue no drive listed nothing. Both don’t tell you anything else other then the setup believes the files it is looking for are not in the location it thinks they should be in. So¬†instead¬†of asking for the file it’s looking for it¬†just¬†reports a generic non helpful errors….. gee thanks Adobe.

The first time I saw this error I had to scratch my head because the media was in the drive. Then I started to blame myself that I did something wrong creating the DVD and I must have corrupted the files somehow. So I start again and make another DVD only to get the same error. I start to search the internet and find hundreds of posts to this issue with no real solution other then keeping the folder path the same as is extracted to your desktop. I read that you cannot just copy the¬†files¬†to root of the DVD you must also keep the folder structure the same. I swear to myself a bit thinking any novice programmer knows how to make an installer that is relative to the setup.exe location so that you never have to deal with absolute file locations. Whatever,¬†they’re¬† the huge software company they must know or have a reason why they do this (other then making it a pain in the ass to burn their files to a DVD) I create the DVD with the proper folder structure as the self extractor created and try to reinstall. I get the same error again. So now I’m stumped because this is a brand new computer and has never had an Adobe product on it. I know to check for other installs of Adobe products because in Adobe’s¬†infinite¬†wisdom if you have a CS3 product to install but you have¬†already¬†installed a CS4 product it messes something up with the installer and you must uninstall everything and install your products in a lowest CS number to highest to fix the problem. Sometimes this does not work and to fix it you need to format your system and reinstall the OS.

The Horror of it all

I am left with no other choice, only one option left,¬†call Adobe support {insert¬†scary¬†music and lightning here}. If any of you have ever called Adobe’s support department you will know what I am talking about. Their support is mostly offshore people with bad attitudes, I call these people support rats. Now I can understand their bad¬†attitudes¬†I really can, imagine if your job was to listen to people complain about Adobe’s poor workmanship! I would reach a breaking point and start to care less sooner then later. I take the plunge and call support and talk to a gentlemen to log my support ticket.¬†The¬†call was on hold for 45 minutes before being answered. I complained about the wait time and the support rat tells me that if I would like I can open an online ticket with them for future¬†reference¬†instead¬†of calling to save time. “Are you kidding?” Online support is a 48 hour working day turn around system, it takes almost 2 weeks just for them to understand the problem. Not to mention waiting 48 hours to get a¬†response¬†like “is the power on?”. I want to talk to a live support rat until¬†they have solved my problem. With that said my support rat understood exactly what I was saying and he was going to do his best to help me solve this problem (thanks for the script talk) So after some silly but required questions I tell him that I am running Windows 7 x64, at the drop of that he tells me that the product does not support x64 and that is the problem. He then tried to resolve my problem as this and close the ticket, he was certain this was the problem. I assured him that I have installed this program many times before on the same or similar¬†hardware with no issues using their downloaded installer, as well the problem also¬†occurs¬†on XP Professional.

This guy went on with many reasons to give me for the root of the error. Each one was way off  and completely ridiculous to be honest. At one point he asked me if my machine was  a networked machine, I answered yes and he said that Adobe does not support network installs. ??? I questioned him because I was not installing this from the network or a network drive, I only say yes to that question because my machine is on a network. He said he understood but they do not support machines that are networked. At this point my jaw dropped and I asked him to confirm. I said you do realize that almost everyone has a networked computer of some kind. I think the support rat could tell that his BS answers were not going to fool me and get me off the phone. So he decided to do the next best thing. Give me a answer that would take time to prove wrong. His resolution was that that because I burned the installed to a DVD that I must have corrupted the files. He would keep the case open and to call back in if the problem continues. I need to use the original download or media from Adobe to re-burn the files to DVD.

I¬†asked¬†him if he could¬†send¬†me a link to get the original download so that I could start fresh because I deleted the download exe. I was told they will no longer send links to download old programs. Old programs?! CS3 is an old program to you? It’s only 1 version behind the current! At this point I was¬†fed up¬†with the crap I was getting from him and decided to go on a personal¬†vendetta¬†and solve this problem myself.

A little bit of background

I have worked in the IT field for about 10 years now and have been deep into computers since I was about 12, so I know what I am doing around a PC. Since my position at a advertising company I have had to have hands on more and more with Adobe Creative products. In the last 2 years I have faced this issue more then 6 times, most of them on a brand new install. I must confess that only 1 time did I get this error where I was able to uninstall a trial CS4 product to get my CS3 product installed. 1 other time I just gave up and found the original exe to install the program with instead of the custom DVD. At the same time it was chafing my ass that Adobe would not allow you burn the extracted files to DVD, why would it not work?

I’ll do it myself

I know from my years of computer destruction and reconstruction I could fix this issue without Adobe and their useless support. From my days of¬†debugging I remembered a really¬†useful¬†tools created by¬†Winternals called “Process Monitor“. Process Monitor is a standalone application that allows you to watch what an application does to your file system and registry and much more.

If you start the installer for your Adobe product and get to the point where the installer keeps asking you to insert your media. You can then start Process Monitor (procmon.exe) and create a filter. You need to create a filter because¬†if you run this program with no filters on you will see that it can populate almost 1000+ items a second, this will be hard to sort through. I create a filter for Path that begins with V: (or what ever drive letter your DVD ROM is) V is my virtual drive for mounting ISOs. You would then clear your log so you know it’s cleared before the next step.¬†I will then click the continue button on the installer. This will cause the installer to look for its files again. If you watch procmon.exe you will see a few lines populate. Once the data has been logged you can stop capturing.¬†For myself I use Virtual Media Drives and ISOs to install everything this is why you will see why we are using the V drive. If you look through the logs you should see a step that looks for a file in the payloads folder and a failure beside it.

For some reason the installer is looking for a file¬†located¬†in “V:\Adobe CS4\payloads\AdobeALMAnchorService2-mul”. If I double check my install media the file is there. I then look close and see that the path is not the same path as my media has on it. This is not where I started the exe from Adobe! For some reason when Adobe installs from a removeable drive, instead¬†of using the path from which the exe was launched Adobe has decided to use a hard coded¬†value¬†that the payloads folder must be in. So this is why the error always comes up asking me to insert my media because it is looking in the wrong place for its files.

I opened my ISO and created the folder structure it was looking for and moved the files into that directory, I tried to install and I finally got progress.

The Ending
So that is my story, sorry it was so long but it had to be told. It does come with one question that I hope Adobe reads and give me an official answer, “When are you going to replace your developers?”

Short Story

Adobe’s Creative installers seem to be dynamic when run from a HDD, meaning that it knows the path where the file was executed from and looks for its other files in that same directory. No matter where I extract my files to the installer always work (as long as there is not a different installer error).

When I run the installer form¬†removable¬†media like a DVD or ISO image (flash card has not been tested) the installer is no longer dynamic and is static and looks for all its installer files in a folder “Adobe CS4”. No matter where you place your files it¬†cannot¬†find them and will always ask for the install media. Unless you put it in this one directory it will always fail. You must¬†re-master¬†your DVD or ISO to follow their path.

I have created a list below that I want to keep up to date with different dir locations on media that you are required to place all the extracted files in

Adobe Contribute CS4 – Place all files in a folder called Adobe CS4 in the root of the media
Adobe Flash CS3 Р Place all files in a folder called Adobe CS3 in the root of the media
Adobe Photoshop CS3 – Place all files in a folder called Adobe CS3 in the root of the media
Adobe Photoshop CS5 – Place all files in a folder called Adobe CS5 in the root of the media (Thanks NaN)
Adobe Flash Pro CS5/11 РPlace all files in a directory called  Adobe Flash Professional CS5 in the root of the media
Adobe Creative Suite CS5 Production Premium РPlace all files in the root of the media

© Caspan 2010