How to Get A Linux-style Software Installer In Windows

One of the things that Linux users like to boost about is the package management system that allows the users to quickly and easily install (or update/remove) software. In Ubuntu and many other Debian based distros, “apt” is the default package management tool while some other distros use “yum” to manage their system. Chocolatey is the equivalent of “apt” or “yum”, except that it is meant for the Windows OS. If you are a Windows user and are not afraid of the command line, Chocolatey is one good app that allows you to search and install software easily in Windows.

To install Chocolatey, first open a command prompt. Enter the command:

@powershell -NoProfile -ExecutionPolicy unrestricted -Command "iex ((new-object net.webclient).DownloadString('http://bit.ly/psChocInstall'))" && SET PATH=%PATH%;%systemdrive%\chocolatey\bin

This will fetch the Chocolatey package and install it in your Windows.

chocolatey-installation

That’s it for the installation.

Still in the command prompt, you can use the command clist to list all the applications in the database. (Don’t attempt to use the clist alone. It will take a long time to fetch all the packages in its library and list them in the command prompt). To check if a particular software is in the database, use the command:

clist application-name

For example, to check if VLC is in its database, use the command:

clist vlc

It will return a list of applications with the name “vlc” in it.

chocolatey-check-vlc-exist

Alternatively, you can also go to this site and search for the software package. If it returns a positive result, you can proceed to the next step to install the package.

To install an application, you just have to use the command:

cinst application-name

For example, to install VLC, just type:

cinst vlc

chocolatey-install-vlc

What Chocolatey does is to download the installer file from the source and run the installer (.exe). If you have UAC enabled, you should receive a prompt asking you to grant permission to run the installer. From then on, everything is as usual.

It is probably wrong to treat Chocolatey as a package manager since it doesn’t really “manage” your software. Instead, it should be known as an Installation manager since its main functionality is to help you to quickly and easily install applications. It doesn’t keep track of the software that you have installed and doesn’t check for update automatically. You can, however, run the install command to get it to download the latest version of the application and re-install the app. It doesn’t come with a command to remove the applications too. For that, you can make use of the Add/Remove feature in Windows.

One feature that I hope it can add to its arsenal is the ability to download and install several applications at once. At the moment, each cinst command only allow you to install one application. It will be great if you can enter several application names, something like cinst notepadplusplus filezilla 7zip.install, and get it to do the installation sequentially.

As of this post, there are 434 packages in its library and most of the commonly used and popular (free) software are already found there. While the installation of application via the command prompt might sound scary, it is, in fact, not the case with Chocolatey. You no longer have to navigate to the developer’s website (for your favorite application) to download the installer file and install it manually. This is probably the best reason for you to use this app.

Chocolatey