Dec 4, 2012

Chocolatey: a sweet way to manage your software

Whenever I setup a new Windows PC for development, I find myself going on a software hunt. There are many cool utilities which I've discovered over the year. But they are all located on their own website, so it takes a while to find, download and install them. I’ve tried to keep all the installers in a folder on a shared drive, but by the time I get to use them again, many are already outdated.

Linux users have solved the issue with the help of centralized repositories and a package manager. The Windows 8 store works in a similar manner, so it may become a good alternative. But I just checked and my favorite tools are not there.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a package manager for Windows, available today, and able to install all those neat utilities we like to use? Well as you’ve probably guessed, there is such a thing. It’s called Chocolatey and it is as sweet as it sounds.

Chocolatey is built on top of nuget and has its own package repository, with currently over 550 unique packages. You can use it from the command line and quickly install applications with default settings, in a similar manner to what Linux users do. No need to provide extra info to the installer. For example, if you want to use Oracle’s VirtualBox, all you need to do is type:

cinst virtualbox

Upgrades are also supported. You can easily let Chocolatey check for updates on all your installed applications with a simple command:

cup all

The cool thing about doing this through the command line is you can create a simple batch file to install all the tools and apps you like to use. You don’t need to store a bunch of installer, just one batch file. And when you run it, the latest version of all of your apps gets installed automatically.

I spent a few minutes on the Chocolatey site the other day just browsing the package repository. I ended up finding and installing many of my favorite tools, and some new ones as well.

Finally, it’s possible to create packages yourself so you could submit your own software to the repository and easily make it available to all.

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