Quickly setup any machine with one simple URL

Perhaps you have a common collection of applications and settings that you would like to install on any machine you have to work on. You don't want to have to always carry thumb drives or memorize complicated commands and URLs.

Boxstarter makes this process a snap!

Installing several packages

While often install scripts may be complex and the information on this page will show you how to capture such scripts in a gist, if you simply want to install a list of chocolatey packages, you can use this URL:

Launch this from IE and the Boxstarter launcher should install and run. Note that this will not work on Chrome or Firefox unless you have a "Click-Once" extension.

Installing from a Gist

Step 1

Compose the installation script.

Set-ExplorerOptions -showHiddenFilesFoldersDrives -showProtectedOSFiles -showFileExtensions

cinst fiddler4
cinst git-credential-winstore
cinst console-devel
cinst sublimetext2
cinst poshgit
cinst dotpeek

cinst Microsoft-Hyper-V-All -source windowsFeatures
cinst IIS-WebServerRole -source windowsfeatures

Its Simply Chocolatey

Other than the Boxstarter commands that are imported into all Boxstarter Installation sessions, you will likely recognize this syntax if you are already familiar with Chocolatey. This script is going to configure Windows Explorer in a way that won't drive you crazy, allow you to use Remote Desktop to connect to the machine, install a handful of applications that you commonly use and install Hyper-V's virtualization host and the IIS Web Server.

Boxstarter can run any Chocolatey package. The only difference as far as the script is concerned is that your script also has access to Boxstarter's commands for configuring Windows, running updates as well as logging and reboot control.

Step 2

Save your script

You have lots of options here. Boxstarter supports:

  • Saving as a package to any Nuget feed.
  • Saving a package to a Network share or any local media such as a thumb drive.
  • Saving to a single text file or any text based HTTP resource (like a Github Gist)

We'll stay simple here and save to a Github Gist.

After saving the Gist, we'll click the "View Raw" link

Now we will copy the raw URL:

Step 3

Run the script

In either Internet Explorer (other browsers likely will not work) or from a console (CMD or PowerShell), invoke the Boxstarter launcher:

START http://boxstarter.org/package/nr/url?https://gist.github.com/mwrock/7382880/raw/f6525387b4b524b8eccef6ed4d5ec219c82c0ac7/gistfile1.txt

Note this URL is a simple Boxstarter URL: http://boxstarter.org/package/nr/url. The /nr/ tells Boxstarter not to reboot the machine. Depending on what you are installing, you may not want to include that. Especially if you are including more heavy weight applications, frameworks or Windows Updates.

We add our raw Gist URL to the Boxstarter URL separated by a '?'.

Additionally, if the script is saved locally to a single text file, the path can be added to the Boxstarter URL, again separated by a '?'.

START http://boxstarter.org/package/nr/url?c:\temp\myscript.txt

This invokes a Boxstarter installer that will install everything according to your script.

If not already installed, this will install Chocolatey and any of its prerequisites. If you did not include /nr/ in the Boxstarter URL, it will manage reboots and automatically log the machine back in so you do not have to attend to it throughout the installation.

Other facts about the Boxstarter web installer:

  • You can also install any package on the public Chocolatey.org feed as well as the Boxstarter community feed on MyGet.org. To install these packages, use the package name instead of URL. So if you wanted to install FireFox, you would use http://boxstarter.org/package/nr/firefox.
  • As briefly noted above, by default the web launch URLs will not work outside of Internet Explorer or from the START command if Internet Explorer is not your default browser. You need to install a "Click-Once" extension for non-IE browsers. Here is one for firefox and here is one for chrome.