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How do you mange bulk installs to your clean PC after a clean install?

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  • User profile image
    dahat

    I sit here at present, (still) rebuilding my main home desktop, which of course is a tedious task, wondering if there isn't a better way.

    In order to get my PC just minimally functional (for me), I need to install the following:

    • Windows 7
      • SP1
      • WU up the wazoo
      • IE9
    • Office 2010
      • SP1
    • Visual Studio 2010
      • SP1
      • SL4
      • SL4 Tools
      • WP7 tools
      • Windows 7 SDK
    • Windows Live Essentials
    • Paint.NET
    • Pidgin
    • Zune Desktop

    And that's just the minimum... plenty of other niggly little settings, apps, & add-ins need to be tweaked... in addition to account information for different apps.

    With a little time I could probably create a series of batch files to install each in a silent mode (given most/all reside on my Home Server), without the need for clicking next ever... however I would still have to deal with managing reboots and restarting the process.

    Using the Windows AIK I could create a base image... but ideally I'd like something that would be OS (version) independent.

    Has anyone found a good solution to this kind of problem?

  • User profile image
    Heywood_J

    Here's what I've been doing for several years.  I don't claim it's the only way or the best way, but I like it.   It's not perfect but it has worked well for me over the years and many times has saved me from having to manually re-install everything.

    1.  Two hard drives.

    2.  Install Windows and applications to 1st drive (C:\)

    3.  Tweak everything and get it just the way you like it.

    4.  All documents, music, pictures, etc. go on second drive (D:)

    4a.  Script runs once a day and copies everything in C:\Users\MyUsername to a backup folder on Drive D:  This makes a backup  of program config files, email, browser settings, etc.

    5.  Make an image of Drive C and save to Drive D.  I really like Acronis True Image but there are other programs.

     If something gets borked and you want or need to restore your system, you just reload the disk image created in step 5 and then copy over the backup from step 4a.  Obviously this in not OS version independent, but I don't think there's any way of achieving that with some pretty complicated programming.

  • User profile image
    vesuvius

    I use the web platform installer as that is quite good. Not everything on your list, but it is quite useful

  • User profile image
    ManipUni

    Slipstream it on to the Windows Installation media. That will give you Windows 7 with SP1/IE9, and any third party programs which use Windows Setup.    

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=windows+7+Slipstream

     

    As a random aside, Windows Update is really moronic when it comes to a fresh install. Instead of installing the latest service pack and then updating whatever hasn't been covered, it installs a whole bunch of updates included within the service pack, then after that is done it then installs the service pack.   

    That's why I got a copy of the network install SP1 for Windows 7, and just install it on a brand new machine before even touching Windows Update. 

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    ,ManipUni wrote

    As a random aside, Windows Update is really moronic when it comes to a fresh install. Instead of installing the latest service pack and then updating whatever hasn't been covered, it installs a whole bunch of updates included within the service pack, then after that is done it then installs the service pack.   

    It's a bit smarter than it first appears, since Service Packs installed through WU only download the bits that your system doesn't already have. Which means that it's putting the critical fixes in place first, so you're protected ASAP, then fetching the rest when it goes off to get the Service Pack.

    As far as putting my system back together, I just boot off a WHS recovery CD and restore the appropriate system. I've not found a genuine need to completely rebuild a PC in years, except when playing with beta versions of the OS. I much prefer to stick to disposable VMs if I have some particular need to try out some software that's likely to make a mess.

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    We have a hardware system for that -- his name is Chris Tongue Out

    In all seriousness I'm interested in this topic because it can take us days to get a new developer's PC set up and that's way too long. (mainly we forget an important configuration or piece of software).

    Herbie

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    ,Dr Herbie wrote

      In all seriousness I'm interested in this topic because it can take us days to get a new developer's PC set up and that's way too long. (mainly we forget an important configuration or piece of software).

    In a business scenario? Active Directory + System Center and you should never have to remember an installation or configuration setting ever again. It certainly shouldn't take more than a couple of hours tops to roll out a new PC (or 50)

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    At home, I keep all of my libraries on a second hard drive (an old 80GB drive that's still going). When it's time to reinstall (which I haven't really needed to do since Windows XP days, but still do every once in a while when I'm bored), I usually reinstall things manually as I need them. It takes a bit longer to get back to where I was, but the whole point of wiping the OS is to get to a different state than what I was in. My home machine isn't in a "get back up ASAP" situation, so it's okay if this process takes a week or two.

    At work, all of my source files are kept in source control. The IT department has a standard image for developer machines, so getting back up and running would only take a few hours. Of course, getting all of those configuration items back would take a little longer, but at least I could still get work done.

  • User profile image
    OrigamiCar

    ,dahat wrote

     

    With a little time I could probably create a series of batch files to install each in a silent mode (given most/all reside on my Home Server), without the need for clicking next ever... however I would still have to deal with managing reboots and restarting the process.

     

    For a Home system, could you not get your PC set up just the way you like it with all the software you listed, do an image backup with Homeserver then keep that backup? That way if you install some software that messes up your system or slows down, then you can flatten it, roll back to the WHS backup and then install any new patches/WU that have been released since you created the backup.

    Personally I flatten my home machines at least once a year and start from scratch - mostly because as a developer, I tend to install and uninstall a lot of tools, sdks, apps etc for trial.

  • User profile image
    dahat

    The issue with installing/storing apps/data to a non OS partition/drive is the same as using a slipstreamed image (AIK) or a backup... it is limited to one PC or OS.

    In my mind I'm envisioning a quasi-package manager... where I could select which apps to have installed automatically in my absence, click go, and then it then becomes responsible for installing the specified apps in a correct order (based on dependencies), as well as potentially managing reboots.

    Some (purchased) apps like Visual Studio or Office are large enough that they would be sitting on a network share, while other (often free apps) like Zune, iTunes or Paint.NET are updated often enough that a quick DL would be required first... so there would need to be a trusted list of the location of various downloadable apps that can be augmented by a local file store of software.

    I know that Configuration Manager 2012 has a "Software Center" feature for enabling client PCs to request the install of specific bits of software... only I am thinking something far more automated.

    I'm heading off to a 2.5 week vacation in Ireland come Saturday and had planned to see the sights, drink copious amounts of Guinness and Jamison and not do much of anycoding... hrm...

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    @dahat: Hopefully, the Windows 8 App Store solves your problems.

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    @dahat: What we need is a NuGet type system to do this with the OS.  Perhaps NuGet could be used to do this?

    It would certainly be nice to be able to open up windows at after a new install, enter in a list of software and registration keys and walk away while the system updates things in the correct order.

    Edit: and it would need to be able to do this for drivers as well.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    ,dahat wrote

    Has anyone found a good solution to this kind of problem?

    "Back in the day" (pre-NT kernel) I had a ritual format + reinstall every 6 months. I stopped around 2003 when I learned how to better maintain my system.

    My last system last three years before needing to be redone, I'm a bit proud of that accomplishment (not to be outdone by my sister whose lasted 5 years).

    For me, software reinstallation isn't that big a concern. Reinstalling Windows doesn't require my attention, then install all the updates (I have the Service Packs either slipstreamed or stored on a network share). I'm impressed with the much improved install times of software thesedays, Office 2010, Photoshop CS5, Firefox, etc, all installed together in under an hour. Visual Studio... not so much.

    Steam games are quick: I just copy my GCF files from a network share onto my computer. Non-Steam games are a pain, but now I only install them on an as-needed basis.

    But reinstalling stuff is such a minor pain nowadays, it just takes up a few hours of my time that I'd otherwise be spending playing games or browsing reddit.

  • User profile image
    Cream​Filling512

    I just install things manually at home.  I don't pave frequently enough to make it worth investing time in automating installation.  Besides, it's a great opportunity to re-evalulate installing crap on your machine.  I'm pretty stingy about what I install these days.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    On Linux (Ubuntu) machines I have a apt-get string I copy and paste. On Windows machines I usually just install stuff manually.

  • User profile image
    magicalclick

    I only use PC Image Recovery.

    As for OS independed solution, none. I have big folder with everything I need to install on my D drive. But, usually they are not up-to-date, thus, they are mearly a reminder of what I want to install. Since I don't have a magical system that download the latest versions for me like how WP7 works, I manually download the latest version and install them. It is once per new OS anyway. I only use PC Image Recovery.

    Leaving WM on 5/2018 if no apps, no dedicated billboards where I drive, no Store name.
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  • User profile image
    MasterPi

    How often do you clean install a new OS to need an OS version independent solution? When I do a clean install, I install only on a need basis. Usually Office, VS, Zune, and WL are priority and then I spend the week installing stuff on demand.

    I wonder if you can programmatically handle restart requests...

    Also, would app-v be a possible solution combined with some automation?

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