Chocolatey, and a new machine

I’m wiping my laptop tomorrow and starting fresh, so I figured this was as good a time as any to document how I can bring a development machine up-to-speed ASAP, using Chocolatey.


Let’s get started

I’ve been pretty religious in making sure that if I needed to install an application on my last personal laptop then I would use Chocolatey wherever possible, but before we can use this to restore all my common apps, we need to make sure that Chocolatey is installed, so let’s start there.

1. Install Chocolatey

This part is pretty straightforward! Chocolatey has the instructions on their site, but the main command is this one:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope Process -Force; iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString(''))

NOTE: I am normally against using “iex wc.DownloadString https://malware.ps1” to install software, but I have chosen to trust Chocolatey. If you don’t understand the risks of “just running scripts from the Internet” - don’t do this.

2. Enable Windows subsystem for Linux

I do a fair amount of work in Linux - mainly testing Docker containers and network/volume configuration, and WSL (the Windows subsystem for Linux) makes this REALLY easy!

You can use a wrapper that’s been written for Chocolatey to enable this (choco install wsl), but for reference, on Windows 10 Pro you need to run the following command:

Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName Microsoft-Windows-Subsystem-Linux

The Chocolatey command is easier to remember though, and it will add the WSL to the list of installed software, so let’s do that instead:

choco install -y wsl

You can then grab the image that you need (for me, the latest Ubuntu LTS will do) using the following command:

choco install -y wsl-ubuntu-1804

3. Install the other applications

NOTE: Unfortunately, Chocolatey doesn’t have a command (YET) to export everything that you have installed to a format that it can re-read. You can follow the development of this feature in this feature request, but for now we can use the InstChoco package.

Once you have a PACKAGES.CONFIG file (here’s mine for if you’re interested), it’s pretty easy to tell Chocolatey to let rip:

choco install ~/Downloads/PACKAGES.config -y

Or if you want to use mine as a starting point:

Invoke-WebRequest -Uri -OutFile ~/choco.config;
choco install (Resolve-Path ~/choco.config).Path -y

UPDATE 2019-02-07: For whatever reason, this didn’t work when it was called PACKAGES.CONFIG. I needed to rename it to literally ANYTHING ELSE and then everything worked fine. I have updated my config file to be choco.config because of this :)

Now, be patient

This can take over an hour, even on a brand new clean system. We’re talking about installing a bunch of “packages”, where most of them are full applications, and one is even a complete other operating system!

At least this way it’s all automated and I hope this gets you up and running faster than you’d expected.

Time for some add-ons?

Prettify our console

One of the things that I like to do, depending on if it’s a work machine or not, is personalise the console to set the color-scheme. For a work machine, this is not ideal because of the amount of demos and screen-sharing I need to do, but for a personal machine, like the one I use to blog late at night, changing everything over to a Solarized Dark theme.

Over the years I’ve found the “right combination” that works for me, and saved it as a Registry file: solarized-dark.reg. This was based off the work of Niel Pankey’s cmd-colors-solarized with a slight modification of the purple color.

Import this one into your registry, or if you want to know more about how to apply it system-wide, go check out the README over here.

UPDATE 2019-02-07: This didn’t work when I tried it this time around… Please just follow the instructions in the cmd-colors-solarized git repo instead.

Customise PowerShell

The last thing that I always load onto a new machine is my Microsoft.Powershell_profile.ps1. I drop this file into ~/Documents/WindowsPowerShell which is on the PATH so that it gets loaded by default whenever I open PowerShell.

There are a few custom commands I have saved in there (like Start-Splunk or Start-Solution), but the main reason I use it is to customise the prompt.

Also, having it load my keys (saved in Dropbox) and show the Git status on the command line is a huge help when I’m developing. I’ll normally run Set-Prompt GitHub whenever I’m starting work to make sure the environment is configured. You can check it out here, or download the whole thing like so:

Invoke-WebRequest -Uri -OutFile ~/Documents/WindowsPowerShell/Microsoft.Powershell_profile.ps1;
. (Resolve-Path ~/Documents/WindowsPowerShell/Microsoft.Powershell_profile.ps1)

NOTE: I have a whole section in there where I import my own Personal Keys into Pageant. You can remove that, or update it to point to your keys. UPDATE 2019-02-07 - SSHKEYS: Pageant was no longer necessary as Windows10 comes with OpenSSH! Yay! You’ll need to enable the OpenSSH Agent Service via Services, but then it should “just work”. UPDATE 2019-02-07 - POSH-GIT: I have also removed a lot of the clutter from the that is now incorporated into Posh-Git itself. Granted, you will need to follow the instructions to install Posh-Git but once you do, then you can just call Import-Module posh-git from your profile as shown here!

Got any other tips?

Let me know if you know of a better way to get your dev machine up and running? Do you prefer Ninite? What’s your take on Chocolatey vs Scoop? Let me know in the comments below, or [over here on Twitter](

I'm Pat Hermens, an Australian that's spent a decent amount of time living & working in the Netherlands.
I am a .NET developer (for the last 20 years or so), a technical manager, a public speaker, a happy husband and father, but most of all; I'm just a nerd.
I'm currently a Director of Software Engineering at Slalom Build in Sydney, Australia, and I was previously Development Manager at Coolblue in Rotterdam, NL.

3 responses

  1. Gravatar for Pat

    Testing the new commenting system

    Pat – January 31st, 2019
  2. Gravatar for Pat Hermens

    Joining in on the discussions, testing the new comment layouts

    Pat Hermens – January 31st, 2019
  3. Gravatar for Kam

    The Github link to the config returns a 404, so it’s not possible to see your sample :(

    Kam – September 18th, 2019

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