Chocolatey, apt-get for Windows

If there's one thing I sometimes miss about Linux when I'm working in Windows, it's an easy to use package manager such as apt-get or yum to install/update common tools.

There's no denying that typing "apt-get install git" at a console is easier and quicker than going to a website, finding the download link for the correct version, downloading, running installer and clicking through the wizard prompts.

Thankfully, there's a third-party group that are attempting to enable similar functionality for Windows -- http://chocolatey.org/

Chocolatey provides a command-line tool that enables you to install common Windows utilities as simply as "cinst git" or "cinst vlc", etc. No prompts, no manual downloads, no mucking about.

The best thing about this is that installation of chocolatey itself is done via a single command-line too (just visit their website, it's on the front page). This means that you can write a very simple script file (or notepad note-to-self) to install chocolatey, and then install all the utilities you need/want, which is very useful if you're often setting up new machines or virtual appliances.

For example, my package install list is something like this:
  • cinst git
  • cinst notepadplusplus
  • cinst 7zip
  • cinst Console2
  • cinst vlc
  • cinst putty
  • cinst paint.net
  • cinst GoogleChrome
  • cinst adobereader
  • cinst dropbox
  • cinst Firefox
  • cinst java.jdk
  • cinst javaruntime.x64
  • cinst VirtualCloneDrive
  • cinst winscp
  • cinst DotNet4.5
  • cinst picasa
  • cinst MicrosoftSecurityEssentials

This pretty much gives me all I need on a fresh Windows machine.

The only downside of Chocolatey is that it's not as wide-spread as it should be. Looking at their gallery, it seems their most popular package (git) has only been downloaded and installed about 7000 times. Chocolatey itself has only been downloaded around 49,000 times. Given that 5 or 10 of those were probably me, that puts their actual user base at around 5k to 10k, which is not very inspiring.

I really hope that more people find out about this and start using it, so that it can grow and continue to be supported and maintained. Hence this blog post. Give it a try, and if you like it, spread the word!

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