Thanks to my friend and regular co-author, Kari Finn, I’ve been learning about Chocolatey lately. What is this thing? According to its “About” page, “Chocolatey is a package manager for Windows (like apt-get or yum but for Windows). It was designed to be a decentralized framework for quickly installing applications and tools that you need.” In fact, the Chocolatey Windows Package Manager lets you use PowerShell to install any of more than 5,000 Windows applications without having to interact with their usual installer programs. Thus, it’s a terrific way to customize a Windows install without having to follow along with each and every installer it uses.
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A candy bar motif pervades Chocolatey, and indeed it is pretty sweet!
Working with the Chocolatey Windows Package Manager
In other blog posts here (as recently as last May) I’ve recommended the Ninite installation utility as a way to grab and add common executables to a Windows installation. Right now, Ninite lists 82 applications from which you can pick to add to a Windows install. Chocolatey, OTH, currently supports package-based install scripts for 5,154 applications as I write this blog post. That number waxes on a daily basis. Thus, you can pretty much count on Chocolatey to handle most, if not all, of the applications you’d want to install on a Windows PC.
A simple illustration will quickly display Chocolatey’s insane powers. Here’s a line of PowerShell that installs the following applications on a Windows PC:
- Office 365 Business
- Adobe Reader
choco install Office365Business, AdobeReader, vlc, 7zip, Notepadplusplus, ZoomIt, GoogleChrome, Firefox, Opera, Malwarebytes, TeamViewer -y
That’s some serious power, combined with great compactness and convenience, folks! Note that while the command string as shown breaks across multiple lines, when entering this into PowerShell it would show up as a single line of text (and thus also, a single directive to Chocolatey).
The next time you’re building or customizing a Windows image, you should give Chocolatey a try. Great stuff, and a nice addition to the admin toolbox for Windows-heads everywhere. Find complete installation instructions for this program on its Install page.