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I know that sounds a weird request. But I was installing a bunch of packages in Ubuntu yesterday, using apt-get and I started wondering if anyone had adapted it or produced anything similar for Windows.

What I mean is:

  1. an package manager/installer for Windows, and
  2. a repository of free-software packages in a compatible format.
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1 Answer 1

The closest I've ever seen to a functional, up-to-date package manager for Windows is Portable Apps. Everything else looks and sounds cool but the authors inevitably lose interest over time. The folks over at Portable Apps advertise it as something you can run from USB thumbdrives, but I've tried that and found the apps to be very sluggish even on high-performance thumbdrives, which is probably why few people do that (if you do, then you're like me and in the minority of all Windows users). What I do is put Portable Apps and my data on a second physical internal hard drive and then add shortcuts to the Start menu and desktop manually to launch those applications directly. If I install a new OS on the primary hard drive, most of my applications are already available and ready to run (minus the shortcuts). And, of course, I do mirrored backups of the data and applications drive. As an added bonus, Windows runs smooth as silk too - probably because the applications aren't bloating the registry via installers.

The only annoying thing about Portable Apps is the splash screen for each app. You can shut it off by setting up an INI file per app and it only has to be done one time per app, but it is annoying.

I have a monthly reminder pop up to help me remember to run the Portable Apps launcher, which has an auto-update facility built into it. All of my Portable Apps are updated at one time and within a few minutes. Then I go back to whatever I was doing.

The advantage of using Portable Apps this way becomes clear during an OS migration.

What I've described isn't really how the authors intend for their software to be used, but it works and I think it works pretty darn well.

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