I just finished four days of trying to install Adobe CS3, and I thought I’d mention what the problem was (or more accurately, what the solution was, since I’m not entirely sure what the root cause was), in case it will save someone else the trouble.
First let me say, Adobe‘s technical support is top notch. They stayed on the phone with me for hours grasping at straws until we hit that magic fix. Kudos to the Adobe tech support.
The problem I was having was one where the installer would go through the initialization screen, then would go away – it would just disappear, and sometimes leave the Setup.exe (not the case) in my processes list. There is a tech note for that problem, which the tech support guys pointed out to me, but that didn’t solve the problem in my case (and I very thoroughly hunted and killed every single everything that has ever been even related to Adobe and Macromedia – and that includes all Flash Players – which is what that tech note is about).
As it turns out, the Adobe setup program relies on Internet Explorer and the installed Flash Player (although it does seem to try to upgrade it). It was frankly a bad idea on the part of the installer engineers at Adobe to rely on this third party – easy to screw up by end users – software, and all the possible points of failure that comes with using that. I suppose, in fairness, if those technologies are not working for the installer, they probably will not work for the applications once they are installed either. Still, because of the nature of this installer failure, it was incredibly difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the failure. It might have been easier to figure out why, say, Dreamweaver would not start. Maybe in the next installer, if Adobe really wants demonstrate that it eats its own dog food in critical places, they’ll use Adobe Air running in Ubuntu, and cut out the reliance on IE, but I digress.
The solution for me was to uninstall IE 7. The theory is that I either had a beta version still installed from way back when, or that some remnants of that beta were still hanging around. Whatever the case, I uninstalled it, and then, finally, after 4 days, the installer worked. A few other hiccups later (like not being able to choose a different drive if you start the install from the hard drive but want to continue from the DVD with disc 2, ugh), I finally have an installed Adobe CS3 Master Collection! And a day later, I now have all the software I tore out of my system in a desperate attempt to get the installer to work (which is cool in an odd way, since I had quite a bit of garbage on my work machine).
Even though downgrading back to IE 6 fixed this particular problem, I’m still not convinced that was the root cause of the problem. It seems that at some point after I started preparing my computer for CS3, I lost the ability to install updates, and to even install the Flash Player ActiveX control. It just wouldn’t work (I wish I would have noticed that earlier – since it was a huge clue). Even after downgrading to IE 6, it still wouldn’t let me install some Windows update or the Flash Player ActiveX control. I traced that to a problem with registry key permissions, and I have no idea what caused that (probably some program that I uninstalled, is my guess). After jumping through hoops to get IE 7 to install (restarting and installing in Safe Mode finally worked), hoping that would fix the problems with IE – which it didn’t, I used Ramesh Srinivasan’s registry permissions reset guide to finally get things working in IE again (thanks!).
So there it is, if you are having this mysterious problem with the setup disappearing after the initialization window disappears, you might be having a problem with IE7, it’s ability to install Flash and/or problems with registry permissions. I should note, that the problem existed for all CS3 installers, including the trial installers.