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How does setup.exe (without setup.ini) distinguish between different versions of the same file?

In the absence of setup.ini, does setup.exe "know" things about different
version numbers, other than which of two version numbers is the later? Given
a dazzling array of *.bz2 and *.gz files in (sub)-directories under
setup.exe, I would have expected the latest version number in any
subdirectory to be selected for installation, with setup.exe simply trained
to recognise which was the latest in any directory containing two or more
such files.

(I realise setup.ini could be contrived to dictate exceptions to this
rule -- and presumably, setup.ini often is so contrived.)

However : running setup.exe today in an environment where all files of
whatever vintage mentioned in today's setup.ini were to be found (but where
setup.ini itself was deleted) there occur 4 exceptions to this "rule":

    1. setup.exe tries to install ash 20011018-1 not 20020131-1
    2. setup.exe tries to install automake-devel 1.5b-1 not 1.5-5
    3. setup.exe tries to install gdb 20010428-1 not 20010428-3
    4. setup.exe tries to install libtool-devel 20010531-6 not 20020202-1


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