Bulk installing software with Ninite

Here’s a clever idea: a web service that lets you pick and choose from a range of mainstream software applications, then enables you to bulk install all of them in one go.

Called Ninite, there’s a long list of user-friendly applications in place that you might want to download onto some desktops. For example, you might want to put Firefox, Skype, OpenOffice, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Security Essentials, and Java onto a set of machines.

Just check those boxes, press the Get Installer button, and then download the configuration tool. When you run this, all the apps that you’ve chosen will be downloaded and installed with sensible defaults – the site claims that it just says “no” to all unwelcome add-ons like browser toolbars and other junk.

You don’t have to sit around and carry out each installation in turn – the whole lot just happens in one go while you do far more important sysadmin tasks like going to the pub

You don’t have to sit around and carry out each installation in turn – the whole lot just happens in one go while you do far more important sysadmin tasks like going to the pub, or even ensuring that last night’s backup worked.

Clearly, this isn’t going to replace a proper application deployment and management system, but a lot of businesses, especially in the SMB (small medium business) space want to put a pile of high-quality free software onto users’ desktops, but don’t want the hassle of sitting there for hours running their setup programs.

Ninite sweeps away all of this tedium and is a superb idea. Hmmm, so what would I pick out for a new laptop or netbook? Firefox, Windows Live Messenger, Skype, iTunes, VLC, Spotify, Office, Adobe Reader, Microsoft Security Essentials, Java, Silverlight, Google Earth and at least another half a dozen on top.

To get this onto my new laptop is just a point-and-click affair, and I can go to bed while it installs.

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