Ninite got a quick mention on our forum pages from “ha14” back in November, but after using it just now to load nearly 20 of my favorite free applications I think it deserves a lot more attention.
A bit of history:
In the latter years of the XP Dynasty, a lot of time was consumed by the quest to find a way to re-load and re-build our PCs faster and more efficiently following a system failure. Whether it was a machine upgrade or a component failure, or just a general feeling of OS ennui that prompted the need for “The Big Flush” (formatting C:, reloading Windows XP, then reloading the “essential” apps) I seem to have needed it about 4 times a year for each of my 5 boxes. Most of my tech-head friends were in the same boat — we all seemed to be doing it a lot.
The whole process took a full day the first few times I did it via the manual process, but the time got shorter and shorter, first by partitioning off the boot drive (usually C:\ which held the OS and the installed programs) through the use of shell scripts and command-line installation options until eventually the rebuild time got down to just over an hour once I’d figured out how to use the “Windows XP unattended installation” process and wrote my own application installer.
Today, Windows 7 being a far more intelligent system to load, and a more stable platform to run, most folks don’t need to undergo this full system rebuild quite so often, and therefore folks like me haven’t spent many more brain cells attempting a further reduction in the turn-around time. Good thing too as Ninite has done it for us.
Easy As …
Getting and using the program couldn’t be easier – just head over to Ninite.com where you will find a generous list of the more popular free applications and utilities in use on the net today.
Select the items you want to install on your PC and hit the big green “Get Installer” button
The package then goes to work installing your selected apps. It doesn’t really matter how long it takes (and it isn’t that long) because you don’t need to do anything along the way.
The “final” final step is optional wherein you are invited to submit suggestions for inclusion in the package.
A Step Beyond Installation:
One advantage that my installation script had over Ninite was that it configured and customize most of the applications during the installation process.
I would regularly make about 16 changes to my command line prompt alone (no, I am NOT anal). Go to whoa – either through command line options available in the installation process, or via keystroke macros post-installation, building these individual modifications into the setup process always saved me a bit of time.
Testing the responsiveness of the company, I fired this suggestion off to the Ninite folks (along with a request for a better name for the product) and within the hour got a reply back from Sascha Kuzins, the co-founder of Ninite, who suggested I think of name as “Nin-ite” (perhaps a specialized kind of “Nanite” that installs software?) and agreed to take my suggestion for local application customisation under advisement – so I’m happy.
Nin-ite looks like a great product and the only reason I can’t say that it IS a great product is because I haven’t tested it thoroughly to ensure that my selected apps installed correctly, nor have I compared it to other similar products. But even with those qualification, I’d recommend that if you ever have a need to install, or re-install your operating system and “base level” applications – this would be the app to run first.
Apologies to the thousands of my loyal readers who expected an article on Windows Media Center Extenders as promised in my last post – that will be the next one – honest!