I’m going to talk about the differences between Ninite and chocolatey, and which I’ve settled on for everyday use. The best way to do so, I think, is to talk about each and what they are good for, then compare them.
I’m a long time user of Ninite, a sublime program that lets you download and install a lot of great software without any risk of toolbars or your homepage getting reset. It’s dead simple: you go to the website, you are presented with a list of great software, you check boxes on the software that you want to install, click download, and the program runs and you are done within minutes.
Ninite has to be my most recommended piece of software because it’s just so simple, and it’s just so useful. I can’t use it for commercial use, so I tell customers at my IT job about it and that they can use it at home. Makes them happy, makes me happy. If you haven’t used Ninite before or didn’t know about it, it’s great for three things for the average user:
- Ninite is good for a new computer.Ninite is great for when you need to setup a new computer. Browsers, media players, anti-virus and anti-malware, system utilities, and more, without the need to download more than one file yourself.
- Ninite is good for updating software.Ninite doesn’t just install software, it also updates it. Basically, if you have software that is outdated, Ninite will update it. If something on its list is not installed, it will be installed. If you have something that is already up to date, it will be skipped. I used to run a Ninite install on start up. Kept stuff up to date!
- Ninite is good for discovering software.Ninite doesn’t have a huge catalogue of items, but the items that it does are good. Ninite will not include malicious software and usually only has useful software. If you are not super knowledgeable about all the cool and hip software out there, well, maybe Ninite is. Look at their site, read through the list of software, and you might find something cool. Plus, it’s easy to install!
Chocolatey is a command-line tool that aims to be the “app-get” or “yum” of Windows. I’d say it’s going pretty well, and now with Windows 10, OneGet comes with chocolatey support through a plugin. Chocolatey isn’t quite on the same level as Ninite, as they are very different programs. Chocolatey has a lot of different features. For one, you install chocolatey. It’s a program and you install it through the command-line. You can use the
choco listcommand to search through chocolatey’s repositories for programs. There are a lot of them. The list is by no means complete — there’s a lot of Windows software out there, but because chocolatey’s repositories are open for contribution, many people add software.
That being said, just because there’s a lot of software, doesn’t mean that there’s a lot of good software on the repositories. The repository maintainers obviously can’t discriminate on what constitutes good software versus bad software, that would be pretty bad. The other thing that comes up is that software is also moderated manually by the chocolatey team, which slows down updates, supposing that the software even gets updated. That’s the other caveat: there are hundreds of software entries in the repository that remain outdated — for many, many months. However, chocolatey is great for a few things:
- Chocolatey is good for getting lots of software.Chocolatey does have a pretty huge catalogue of software to choose from, and if they don’t have the piece of software that you want, you can always contribute it. If a package is outdated, you can contact the maintainers, or you can try to update it yourself. They have a lot of different options, rarer software and also lots of development tools.
- Chocolatey is good for updating software.Hey, this is the same point as Ninite! Except updating is very much built into chocolatey. You just use the command
cup alland chocolatey magically goes through all your installed software and updates it. You do need to install the software through chocolatey first, but luckily if you have a program installed, you can just install through chocolatey and usually that will work without much issue. Exceptions come from software that is installed in non-standard places, like eclipse or PHP.
- Chocolatey is good for uninstalling software.Chocolatey has the ability to uninstall software, which quite differentiates it from Ninite. You can list what programs you’ve installed with chocolatey, you can uninstall, and you can update.
In using both programs, I’ve found that each one has their uses. First of all, Ninite has much more appeal to many more people, mainly because of its simple interface. It’s a website, there are pictures, and there’s almost no user interaction. Chocolatey, on the other hand, requires installation through an elevated command prompt. For usability, Ninite wins, easily.
But there’s more to it than usability for people who live in the command prompt anyway. Chocolatey still isn’t ideal. Things get outdated, sometimes the software you want isn’t there, but for a lot of things, it’s pretty great. If you are doing development, you often don’t need the latest version, or you might need a specific version. Chocolatey allows you to install a particular version so long as it’s listed in the previous versions on the chocolatey website.
All that being said, chocolatey really redeems itself when you run
cup all -yand it just updates all of the software you installed. For heavy computer users, it’s a great choice and brings one of Linux’s best features a little closer to your home.
Ultimately, your needs will determine what you end up doing. Honest, you might end up using both: Ninite to get started, chocolatey for long term use. If you are used to package managers like the ones in Ubuntu or Debian, then you might be used to outdated software. In that case, enjoy chocolatey and the convenience of not visiting random websites all day. If you just want good software fast, I hope that Ninite serves you well and long.