INFO: npackd -- Package Manager for Windows

Most of the operating systems I'm familiar with come with a package manager to simplify installs, uninstalls, and updates. Maybe I'm just used to *nix way of doing things and its command line. However, these operating systems have provided sysads the easier job of administration with just a few commands. It's logical and intuitive, especially from a support perspective.

In contrast, Microsoft and its Windows family of operating systems seem to be missing a similar tool. Even third parties have tried to design a radical solution and most have failed. But there seems to be a project ongoing to bridge the gap Microsoft failed to plug. This project is npackd (pronounced unpacked).

Npackd can be downloaded from its google code project hosting page. From its project page:

Npackd (pronounced "unpacked") is an application store/package manager/marketplace for applications for Windows. It helps you to find and install software, keep your system up-to-date and uninstall it if no longer necessary. You can watch this short video to better understand how it works. The process of installing and uninstalling applications is completely automated (silent or unattended installation and un-installation). There is also a command line based version of Npackd.

Npackd is a free Windows package manager that aids the user in discovering, installing, updating and uninstalling applications. From first use, it has already helped me discover a few programs that prove to be useful in the Windows environment.

When launched, the application will check its repository for updates. Then, it lists down the packages that are available from the repository including their respective versions. Also included in the list are the programs that are installed -- whether via npackd or through their own standalone installers -- and if an update is available.

npackd Package Manager for Windows

It only lists down installed programs that are available in its repository. If a program is installed but npackd is not "aware" of the program, it is not listed. The way it looks, npackd only lists opensource or free programs.

Since the list is quite long, npackd has a text box for searching for a particular application. Search begins as characters are typed in. Also part of the filtering mechanism are category listing as to whether the applications are installable, installed, updatable and a combination of two of those categories.

npackd Package Manager for Windows

Installing, updating and uninstalling are done via buttons on the toolbar. Also provided is a button that opens the default browser to the homepage of the particular application.

Npackd, in its current version, can only update and uninstall programs that it installed. Meaning, even if npackd is aware of the program, once it is installed via the program's standalone installer npackd cannot update nor uninstall it.

Multiple installations could not be done in one click. Installs must be done one at a time. This feature could be in the development wishlist and en-route for future releases. For me, this is really a good nice-to-have.

Like installing, updating is done in a single click. Still one at a time. Although here, instead of simply downloading the update the process involves uninstalling the old version, downloading the installer of the updated version and finally installing it.

Regardless of its limitations, npackd is a step in the right direction. I find it a really useful tool most especially a central point in administering software installations. As more people become aware of its existence, npackd will have more contributors, as well as developers.

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