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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 a) an package manager / installer for Windows. And b) a repository of free-software packages in a compatible format.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 25 down vote accepted

You could try win-get. It's an open source clone of apt-get for windows with a fairly sizable application repository.

I've used it on several previous workstations to get software installed quickly and maintain version of heavily developed applications. It works well.

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Cool, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. –  interstar Nov 13 '08 at 0:57
though the list of apps isn't appearing at the moment :-( –  interstar Nov 13 '08 at 0:58
Awesome. There isn't by chance wemerge or waludis by chance? wentoo? –  Kent Fredric Nov 13 '08 at 1:00
List still not appears as on Jan 27, 2009 (check a couple of weeks ago, too). dang. –  Michael Paulukonis Jan 27 '09 at 14:38
unfortunatelly win-get is no longer maintained. last update was October 9, 2009, 8:19 pm –  raudi Feb 25 at 21:00

I found the following based on the wikipedia entry for package management system and a blog entry:

  • Cygwin: for open source tools that run on the cygwin platform
  • AppSnap: Gui tool, last released February 2008, last checkin October 2008. It did install the latest version of several software packages for me. Includes programming tools for Perl, Java, .NET, Ruby, C++, etc. App seems slightly buggy on Windows 7.
  • Windows-Get: A command line tool based on apt-get. Great idea, seemed to be last updated in 2007. I didn't have much success with it.
  • AppUpdater: Gui tool last released November 2009 and under active development as of Jan 2010. Detected several apps that were already installed on my system. I had to run as admin to get this to work on Windows 7. Also has a command line tool.
  • GetIt: Gui tool that has some support for using AppSnap and AppUpdater if they are installed. Has some support for autodiscovery of repositories. Interface is a little clunky, making it hard to tell what is already installed. Supports upgrades, but doesn't seem to support removal of packages.
  • QWinApt: Looks out of date, haven't tried it.
  • WinAptic: Looks out of date, haven't tried it.
  • WinLibre: Very professional looking but with a VERY limited number of pacakges (around 20) when I installed the minimal version. The project seems to be recently open sourced, the packages are quite out of date. Much of the development conversation seems to be in French.
  • ZeroInstall: This is a multiplatform installer that is not quite yet supported on windows, though the maintainers seem open to having a windows version and it may just be a matter of compiling it for windows. I haven't tried this one yet. It seems to be geared around security and isolating installs in a separate environment from the admin account of a system.
  • WPKG:
  • Unattended:
  • InstallPad:
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0install is now supported on Windows too: 0install.de/downloads/?lang=en –  Thomas Leonard May 29 '11 at 12:27
COOL! Unattended is still active, very active having the current chrome 3 days after release! Wow! –  raudi Feb 25 at 21:15
one remark to Unattended: they do not mention on their website if win7 win8 are also supported... The good thing with unattended would be that it's bare bones installer that also installs the OS - quite nice for some use cases... –  raudi Mar 3 at 13:31

There is also CoApp

And chocolatey

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+1 for chocolatey –  SethO Sep 9 '11 at 1:15
Chocolatey FTW! Plus you can make your own packages and put them on the main feed or create and use your own feeds... –  ferventcoder Jul 12 '12 at 23:29
-1 pretty buggy last I checked. I could never get it to install git. The devs seamed pretty clueless on why it wasn't working. I'm using Npackd now!! –  Casey Feb 7 '13 at 0:46
pretty active as well also featuring the newest chrome! –  raudi Feb 25 at 21:21

here is a new one: Npackd

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also active but not as good as unattended. newest chrome is from Sun Dec 09 13:19:09 UTC 2012 –  raudi Feb 25 at 21:16
although the package was updated in December, the used URL always delivers the newest version of Chrome. Currently it is 33.0.1750.112 –  kaboom Feb 27 at 18:01
Oh! +2 for that. this seems to make Npackd the automatically most recent of the pack. –  raudi Mar 3 at 13:30

Not exactly a package manager, but http://ninite.com/ is a handy way to bulk install a lot of free apps on a new PC.

If you keep the installer exe and run it again it will update all the apps it installed too.

Update: the new non-free Ninite Updater will update apps that you didn't initially install with Ninite. As will the free File Hippo Updater but it won't download and install the apps automatically for you.

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+1 for ninite, it's AWESOME! –  saschabeaumont Feb 1 '10 at 6:15
Not exactly answering the question, but really cool ! –  Julien Nicoulaud May 16 '10 at 13:26
ninite is also very active having chrome on the release day!!! not as many packages though –  raudi Feb 25 at 21:22

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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