I'm still confused. What's wrong with kicking off an installation and going to get a cigarette or a cup of coffee? Kick it off, then go to lunch. Or, kick it off at home and go watch the latest SG-1 episode ... That's what I do when I'm installing OSes or Apache, and those take over an hour each. *shrugs* I guess that it seems a little too impatient, in my book.
And, frankly, I don't think that thousands of tests for regexes is ridiculous. It's extremely easy to get them every-so-slightly wrong. Abigail-II is right, imho, to provide that kind of coverage. Those regexes are going to be depended on for business decisions. It might be a small part, but it's nice to know that "It Will Just Work".
And, the test suite on installation isn't always just for installation. I've played with making changes to many modules. I use their test suite for making sure my changes are backwards-compatible.
Now, maybe it might be useful for "make test" to have a "make test TEST_TYPE=dev" vs. "make test TEST_TYPE=install" (which would be the default). Then, the tester would indicate a subset of tests which are regression-only and which ones should always run.
Plus, you can install the distribution without running the test suite ...
Please remember that I'm crufty and crochety. All opinions are purely mine and all code is untested, unless otherwise specified.