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I would very much like to see a way to do the install without using PEAR. Although the option to use PEAR to install is nice its not very practical for shared servers where most clients don’t have shell access for security reasons. If you developed a small PHP app that would use PEAR on your server to retrieve and compress the package they wanted and allow http download of that file it would be much easier for normal users to install magento if the automatic system wasn’t working for them.