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Offline standalone "alternative" installation of Portable Chrome

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Hans Henderson
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Offline standalone "alternative" installation of Portable Chrome

The PortableApps Chrome installer by default requires a robust Internet connection to download the actual binaries from google.com.

It used to be the case that if you had the "alternative" standalone installer EXE - don't remember if it was the system-wide or the per-user version - in the same folder as the PA.com installer, the latter would automagically detect the former and go ahead and install even if there were no connection to the Internet available.

Is this functionality is no longer possible?

If so, please consider this a request to have it restored, or (even better) to make the PA.com installer self-contained if possible (I'm thinking licensing issue? Is there an existing issue report at google.com we could +1?)

If not, then please let me know what I'm doing wrong.

Use case is a multi-remote-user environment (third-world NGO) widely implementing PA.com's Chrome, non-technical end users only occasionally connected, often with very sketchy net access, want to distribute updates so they can upgrade-in-place keeping their profiles intact.

Thanks in advance. . .

John T. Haller
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Available, but Difficult

It's available, but Chrome's download varies per version with random characters in the string, so it's not something you'll be able to do easily. The installer you get from Chrome's download page on Google is NOT an actual Chrome installer. It's just a stub that will then download Chrome. The actual full installer we use is purposely made difficult to find by Google.

In your situation, only Firefox will work properly. And, realistically, Firefox Portable is a better browser as it is self-contained. Chrome uses lots of pieces that are part of the OS including password encryption (which is why we had to hack our own in). Firefox Portable will also let your users automatically update (when they have net access and if they so desire). It's honestly a better portable browser and it's supported by the publisher.

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Hans Henderson
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That may well be the case but. . . (enhancement request)

I realize from a Portability point of view Firefox may be superior, but in this case I don't have a choice, the users I'm supporting are wedded to Chrome extensions, off-line app in development etc.

Even when they do have a reliable connection, most of my users are paying per-MB and the download can take so long they run it overnight.

The stable links for Chrome that I've found require an EULA ack-click, not sure if this can be hacked to automate a self-contained package install.

Multi-user (requires sysadmin rights?): http://www.google.com/chrome/eula.html?system=true&standalone=1

Single-user: http://www.google.com/chrome/eula.html?standalone=1

If it's not possible to create an automated all-in-one install package, then please consider restoring the functionality that used to work.

GoogleChromePortable_XX.X.XXXX.XX_online.paf.exe sees that ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe is already there in the same folder, switches to offline install mode.

Note that ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe is the name of the file downloaded from either of the above links, but they are different binaries.

Obviously posting the appropriate stable link and a brief instruction to the main download page would be helpful for those in a similar position.

Your consideration of this request is greatly appreciated.

John T. Haller
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Already There

The ability to do offline installation is already there. We haven't changed it. But Google makes it arbitrarily difficult to get at the stable URL to a specific version of Chrome *on purpose*.

Here's the URL for the current version that the Google Chrome Portable Stable installer downloads: http://dl.google.com/edgedl/chrome/win/E9C270D5AFCF0685/27.0.1453.110_ch...

Note the E9C270D5AFCF0685 part? That's a random string that is different for every version of Google Chrome. Google is doing this on purpose to prevent people from linking to specific versions of Google Chrome easily.

If you want the old functionality of being able to download a specific version restored, you'll have to ask Google.

It should also be noted that you can't make changes to Google Chrome or Google Chrome Portable and distribute it without permission from Google. It's illegal to do so. If you're only doing it within your organization, you can get away with it, but you can't distribute it to clients, customers or partners. It should also be noted that neither Google nor PortableApps.com will support your builds and there is no possibility of paying for support. There are options available for other browsers, though.

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Hans Henderson
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Thanks for your patience with me

and my apologies for not being more clear with my issue request.

I have no skills to develop or package anything myself, and no interest in pursuing that approach personally. So excuse me if I call the installation of the PA.com package "your installation process" in order to distinguish it from the offical Chrome issues.

I am requesting that an issue be resolved with your installation process only - I realize it isn't a bug, call it what you will, asking that functionality be restored that isn't there anymore.

I interpret your comment to meant that process isn't able to make use of the stable URLs I pointed out above, due to the EULA click - in other words, a single-file automated PA.com install isn't currently possible.

To me that's OK, that is not the problem I'm seeking to resolve.

I will be very happy if your installation routine would perform the full installation - without looking for an Internet connection - when it detects the file ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe in the same folder. That's the key point - this functionality - which used to be there - no longer works with the recent version releases but it did used to do so in the past.

It would also be useful if you could indicate here (assuming this gets fixed) which of the above two links - full-system vs per-user - should be used to download that exe file.

And ideally this functionality along with the correct instance of the link - requiring a EULA click is OK since a human will be doing it manually - would be documented at your Chrome Portable download page here: portableapps.com/apps/internet/google_chrome_portable so other users requiring this functionality from your installation process in the future won't need to search the forums to find out it that it exists.

I acknowledge the license issue you raise and respectively submit my opinion that PA.com implementing the above suggestions would not be in violation, and that PA.com could simply leave that specific licensing issue between the user and Google - in my specific case we have determined that it doesn't create a problem for our organization.

I hope I've sufficiently clarified my enhancement request this time, and once again would like to express our gratitude, both for all the work that's been done so far on enabling the portable use of Chrome, and for considering this request.

John T. Haller
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Different Installers

ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe is not used by the installer, and will not be used. It uses the individual installers for each specific version of Chrome as provided by Google. Google makes these purposely difficult to find. But, we specifically use them to ensure that a user can install a specific version of Chrome. We can not use the ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe you point out as that changes as soon as Google releases a new version. So, as soon as 27.0.0.1 is released by Google, our live installer for 27.0.0.0 will fail to install (since ChromeStandaloneSetup.exe changed) and every user downloading Chrome Portable from every other website will experience an installer that is failing until it has been updated to 27.0.0.1 by us and then each of those websites. And that would repeat for every single new version of Chrome (and Chrome has security and bug fix releases more often than Firefox).

Most of the above is moot as well, as the actual download URL for the version you are linking is not stable. It, too, changes on every single release. Here's the real URL (note that it has been scrubbed for privacy and will not work):

https://dl.google.com/tag/s/appguid%3D%7B8FF9D345-D564-463C-AFF1-A69D9E5...

Note that a webpage is not a download URL and that the download URL is constructed per version using JavaScript by the Google Chrome download page, none of which is available in an online installer scenario.

So, again, this is the way Chrome Portable will work on an installer and portable basis. I'd highly recommend looking into Firefox instead as it works much better in portable form and is properly licensed and supported for wider distribution. Firefox also suffers from none of the tied-to-the-OS issues that Chrome does around proxies, passwords, etc. Firefox also supports automatic updates within the portable version including differential updates (aka small downloads of just the changed files). If you can't or won't look into it as an alternative, that's your choice. The Chrome extensions you are looking into likely have a superior version available for Firefox (Firefox's extensions are much more mature) and the offline app you mentioned may not even work with Chrome Portable (Chrome's app store may or may not work in the portable version, it is not supported).

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Hans Henderson
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another try

>> Note that a webpage is not a download URL and that the download URL is constructed per version using JavaScript by the Google Chrome download page, none of which is available in an online installer scenario.

I provided those URLS for humans, not your installer. I was under the impression that the resulting download from whatever URL would still be the same filename, sorry if that was a mistake.

And that's a fair point about the timelag between Google's release and PA.com's update, although I would have thought a simply note "make sure you're downloading the matching point release" would suffice, I'll give up on that approach as you seem set on that point.

--------------

All I'm asking for is that the functionality to be able to perform an offline install be restored to work as it used to.

And secondarily I would have thought it would make sense to publish enabling instructions, if not on the main PA.com page for Chrome Portable as I suggested, then somewhere else, even if it's posting to this thread??

If you don't want to have the extra work of updating the download URL in those instructions - whatever one you like, and whatever the resulting filename may be, then leave it a mystery for the user to solve, we can help each other out here.

But it doesn't seem like much additional work to do so, since you have to get the URL for the changes to the installer anyway.

--------------

Unfortunately, while many of our users do use Firefox for some functions, I do not have the option of failing to support regularly updating Chrome, FF is not a replacement for our organization.

The offline app I mentioned will not be publicly available, it's inhouse only and will be tested with up-to-date PA.com portable versions of Chrome throughout development, since that is the basis for our our whole IT strategy - many of our users don't own a computer and do all their work from random internet cafe's while traveling in third world locations.

--------------

I concede it's not really my place to suggest this, but what about the idea of having your installer allow for a separate "download source binary from Google.com" step, which puts it into the same folder as the installer file. This step would be then be bypassed for the subsequent users in the organization when the installer code sees the file is already there.

Sorry to be such a pain, but I hope this may help the PA.com platform in your quest for constant improvement.

John T. Haller
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Unstable URL, You Can Already Do What You Want

As I pointed out, we can only download from a stable URL which consistently puts out the exact same EXE. There is no such thing for the installer you're looking for on a publicly-accessible web site. The link you gave me is useless for an online installer as it doesn't result in a download, only a web page with javascript and an EULA. The actual download for the current version is the one I linked to. It will change with every new version anyway.

You already can download the current Chrome installer separately yourself just by installing Google Chrome Portable anywhere you like and opening up the installer.ini file within GoogleChromePortable\App\AppInfo. The line which says DownloadURL= contains the URL you can use to download the installer yourself. Placing it in the same directory as the Google Chrome Portable installer of the matching version allows it to install in offline mode just as it always has. This is exactly the same as it always has been and nothing has changed on our end. (Note that this functionality is not guaranteed to always be present, but it does work for now.)

I think you may have been missing this point before as the URLs from the site and from the online installer used to match. We've always used the URLs that Google uses for the actual live installer to get a pure Chrome installer that can be extracted. And you've always been able to find out where they come from and download them yourself for offline use by opening up the installer.ini and using that DownloadURL to download a copy and then drop it alongsize the Google Chrome Portable paf.exe.

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Hans Henderson
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Aha! not ideal but enough for now

That level of detail (installer.ini pointer) was what I was missing, thanks.

Hopefully others with the same need will find this by googling.

It would of course be nice if this process could be made a bit more user-friendly, but since most people that would need it are going to be techies I can see it's hardly worth the trouble.

Thanks again for your help and sorry for the confusion.

John T. Haller
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Not Official, Not For End Users, Platform

The reason it's not documented at the moment is because it's not an official feature. And it's not intended for end users. It's a side effect of the installers working with the PortableApps.com Platform's updater and app store. That's why the feature is not considered permanent and may be changed in future installer versions.

We'll have an offline and shared download (aka download once and use for multiple installs) feature officially available at some point in the platform. But we won't be supporting and documenting it for non-platform use.

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Hans Henderson
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"platform" - PA.com jargon?

>> We'll have an offline and shared download (aka download once and use for multiple installs) feature officially available at some point in the platform.

Excellent, that will be tremendous. Personally the ability to update-in-place would be even more valuable, since then the installer is only used for the first-time per desktop anyway, whereas right now we have to jump through these hoops on a very regular basis for the sake of security.

-------------------
>> PortableApps.com Platform

>> But we won't be supporting and documenting it for non-platform use.

I don't know what this means, do you have a customized launch environment now or something? We're just using PStart and DropBox.

Edit - a little googling cleared that up. Nope don't think we'll be using that AFAICT due to our bandwidth issues and scattered/remote non-tech users, so the ability to use Chrome's native update feature (when you go to "about") would be more critical for us than what you're talking about.

If that's not possible, then all I can ask is you keep this "techie backdoor" type of method working as long as that continues to be possible.

Thanks again for all your help and patience with my lack of clarity.

John T. Haller
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No Internal Update, No Hoops

We have no plans to let apps update in place other than via a stable internal method (see Firefox/Thunderbird). This feature will likely never come to Chrome Portable as Chrome's updater is designed to integrate into the OS and run as a service (another example of Chrome being portable-hostile). If you want that changed, you'd need to file a bug with Google Chrome's team as that is entirely their decision.

There are no hoops to jump through as the standard update process is to install a new version of the app over the old one. So updating is the exact same process as the initial installation. Not sure how this is so complex for you.

The ability to do a single download and then place that download in a specific network location or side-install from one platform to another offline is coming to the PortableApps.com Platform (aka the menu, updater, app store, etc) at some point. It won't work with PStart (not developed by us, long since abandoned).

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Hans Henderson
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No problem. . .

>> There are no hoops to jump through as the standard update process is to install a new version of the app over the old one. So updating is the exact same process as the initial installation. Not sure how this is so complex for you.

Sorry if I wasn't clear, not at all complaining John! Just that as you point out when an internal update is do-able as with Firefox, I (as in me personally) don't have to mess with it anymore after the initial roll-out. Whereas even though the put-the-source-binary-in-the-same-location workaround does help our users do the very simple update, it's still something that I have to distribute and support relatively frequently. So not a pain for the users, just for me. But as you point out not your issue, and perhaps a reason to take a look at the Platform down the road for our teams if there are similar issues with other commonly-used apps.

>> We have no plans to let apps update in place other than via a stable internal method (see Firefox/Thunderbird). This feature will likely never come to Chrome Portable as Chrome's updater is designed to integrate into the OS and run as a service (another example of Chrome being portable-hostile). If you want that changed, you'd need to file a bug with Google Chrome's team as that is entirely their decision.

Too bad but thanks for pointing out a possible path for improvement, next time I'm in that neighborhood I'll have a look if the issues been raised and link back to it here for people to get people to vote for it.

>> It won't work with PStart (not developed by us, long since abandoned).

Yes, I realize, just use it as a launcher for those that want it, most of them that only have a few PAs just click on batch files from their desktop.

Does the Platform launcher support auto-running certain scripts/apps when it launches?

John T. Haller
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AutoRun

It supports automatically starting apps you'd like (right-click the app and check off Start Automatically). The next release or so will support running batch files hidden as well.

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Asteriz
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Let's try one very concrete case/version

Will Portable_61.0.3163.100_online.paf.exe

know how to install: google_chrome_32bit_61.0.3163.100

assuming the change to DownloadURL=https://www.filepuma.com/download/google_chrome_32bit_61.0.3163.100-16747/download/

in GoogleChromePortable_61.0.3163.100_online.paf.exe\App\AppInfo\installer.ini

Caveat #1 - it doesn't contain chrome.7z with Chrome-bin... => We'd need a script (or "process") to deterministically extract the equivalent (valid checksum)

Caveat #2 - installer.ini may need to take a local path instead of URL (to the chrome.7z equivalent with)

Golfenstein3D
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Do you need a closed-source browser from a giant corporation?

The alternative PortableApps installation you're looking for is called SRWare Iron - it is Chromium, not Google Chrome.
https://portableapps.com/apps/internet/iron_portable

Chromium supports 99% of the extensions in the Google Chrome web store. The only positive thing Chrome offers over Chromium is an integrated PDF viewer. Chrome also adds Google's Pepper Flash player (which tends to have more problems than Adobe Flash player), and "features" that send user browsing data back to Google (which anyone who cares about privacy doesn't want).

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