Discover the Chocolatey package manager for Windows

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I have administered Windows and Linux systems for almost two decades now. Honestly, while Linux is a fantastic operating system and very suitable in many ways for many applications, I have long preferred Windows for its generally better ease of use and finish.

But that doesn’t mean that I haven’t dreamed of some Linux features when using Windows – and a package management system is one of them. Fortunately, there are a few package management tools for Windows, and best of all, both are open source and free.

The premise behind package management systems

Linux distributions have had package management options for some time. You’ve probably heard of Red Hat’s Red Hat Package Management (RPM) format, Debian Linux’s apt-get, and the new yum package manager that seems to be infiltrating a lot of distributions these days. Basically, these package management systems have the same goal: to automate the installation, configuration, ongoing management and uninstallation of software packages. This includes analyzing a system; determine which packages are required to run the software of your choice; find the latest compatible version of all packages; and installing them in the correct order, ensuring that they are properly installed on the system and that after installing all 117 dependencies the software is ready to run on the target system. I’m kidding, but only a little.

Imagine bringing this automation to Windows. Suppose you migrate to a new system and configure it correctly, just the way you like it. In the process, you try to find the latest version of Google Chrome, for example, or some other fairly popular utility. The procedure you would probably use is to google the name of the product, find the download link, ignore all the “featured offers” and nearby malware that most sites like to bundle with their downloads, and then run the installer. After that, you might even find that you downloaded a 64-bit version when working on a machine with a 32-bit version of Windows installed. Or maybe you found an old download link, and there are two newer versions. This whole sequence is not really taxing, but it is taxing.

Rather imagine that you could just say

choco install googlechrome

from a PowerShell command prompt and you will get:

Jonathan Hassell / IDG

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

… which would be followed by a fully functional installation of Google Chrome. Wouldn’t it save a lot of time?

What if you installed software like Google Chrome and then wanted to upgrade it? What if you could use a command like

choco upgrade googlechrome

… and get an instant upgrade?

That’s the power of package management, and that’s what Chocolatey Package Manager brings to Windows: a wide and expanding selection of carefully selected and maintained software packages that can be removed and installed on your system with a simple command in three words.


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