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Ninite, in spite of its “special needs” name is a great program that installs many of your favorite applications for you — automatically.

Step 1 - pick your applications

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:

If you recognize this input box you know what I'm on about

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 Final Step

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.

Go ahead - they seem very eager to please.

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.

It would be great if we could customize too

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.

The Verdict:

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!

About Deck Hazen

A computer user since 1976, Deck enjoys testing new software and reconfiguring his equipment to squeeze the most out of it. "Computing has come a long way since those early days" Deck recalls "I get a real kick out of watching the industry grow - getting paid to write about it is just icing on the cake!"

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