Originally posted by free_andrew
Why is there so much variety in the types of installation files? KDE installs as an RPM package. Netscape can be installed by running the installation script. What's up with that?
It's because the developers have made different choices. Not all distributions are rpm-based - many common distros like Debian, Slackware and Gentoo do not use the rpm package management system. rpm isn't the only package management system, and it's not the best, only the most common.
So if you are going to distribute [i]one[/b] binary package that will install on all compatible systems, you can make a simple installer (or use the Loki installer, etc), or tar the files and put some instructions in the INSTALL file. This has a big upside for the developer as it limits the support generated and they can focus on writing good instructions for the one way there is installing the program. If you were to distribute your program (or whatever it is) in different package systems (rpms for Redhat, Mandrake and SuSE, tgz's for Slackware/Vector, debs for Debian/Libranet/Knoppix...etc) you would have to make sure they all work as expected and you will also have to know these different systems well.
If you're distributing as source, most of the time you'll just tar it up and expect users to read the INSTALL and README files.