WServerNews: Automating software package installs with PowerShell

Editor’s Corner

This week’s newsletter starts off with a guest editorial from my colleague Adam Bertram on how you can get started automating software package installs with PowerShell. Adam is a 20-year veteran of IT and an experienced online business professional who has worked as an entrepreneur, IT influencer, Microsoft MVP, blogger, trainer, author and content marketing writer for multiple technology companies. Adam is also the founder of the popular IT career development platform TechSnips and frequently posts articles on his site, and you can connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @adbertram.

Mitch Tulloch, Senior Editor

PS. Be sure to check out my interview with Michael Morrison the CEO of CoreView on how you can ease the frustration of managing Office 365 in your enterprise. Their product is pretty awesome and is definitely worth taking a look at!

PPS. Have you seen the most recent issue of FitITproNews? I’m a recovering fat IT pro myself <grin> and if you’re like me then FitITproNews can help show you how to transform yourself from an arch-typical fat IT pro to an awe-inspiring fit IT pro. And if you’re not already receiving our FitITproNews newsletter, you can subscribe to it here!!

Getting started automating software package installs with PowerShell

To get the most of out PowerShell automation, you need to learn how to work with packages and the PowerShell Gallery. Packages allow you to quickly download and install software in no time.

When PowerShell v5 was released, the PowerShell team introduced a module called PackageManagement. This is a module that allows you to manage software packages within package repositories. The cmdlets inside of this module will save you a ton of time installing, uninstall and maintain software.

The PackageManagement cmdlets allow you to find, install and remove software all from within PowerShell from various repositories on the Internet. And without having to search around the Internet or your network to find software installers!

Even better, you don’t have to worry about how to silently install the software either. This functionality is built into the packages themselves.

Getting Started

Packages are served up by package providers which are created from various sources. By default, PowerShell comes with two package sources; and PSGallery. You can get a list of all configured sources by using the Get-PackageSource cmdlet.

Providers are then built from sources. To get a list of available providers, you can use the Find-PackageProvider cmdlet. This will give you a list of all providers registered on your system.

Knowing where the packages come from is good information but if you’re just starting out, the first thing you’ll want to see is the available packages. To do this, you can use the Find-Package cmdlet. This cmdlet searches all of the available providers registered and returns a huge list of all of the available packages to install.

For example, let’s say that I’d like to install the Nancy package. I’d first use Find-Package to see if it is available. You can specify a specific package name if you know it or use wildcards also:

I can see that version 1.4.3 is available to me from the source. This is the most recent version.

To install this, I can pipe this directly to the Install-Package cmdlet:

However, notice that I got an error message indicating a problem. It’s telling me that this particular package won’t allow install without the use of the Destination parameter on Install-Package. You’ll find packages have different requirements like this. To get Nancy installed, I’ll need to tell Install-Package where the install the package at. I’ll choose C:\Nancy:

Since this package source was not marked as trusted, I will receive a confirmation warning. I’ll confirm that this is OK to do and it will then proceed to do the installation. Notice after it is done, I now have a C:\Nancy folder and the package has been installed.

Creating Packages

You can create your own automated packages too, not just install others’. This allows you to build custom packages to automate any custom software you have. If you’d like to build custom packages, you’ll need to package it up using nuget. Although, not nearly as easy as installing preexisting packages, it will save you loads of time in the long run.

Note that we’re not covering another popular packaging tool called Chocolatey. Learn more about Chocolatey and how to create packages with Chocolatey on my blog. On, you can also find hundreds of posts on PowerShell showing you how to automate all the things!


If you’ve tried to silent install software in the past you know that this approach is far easier than before. It’s simply a matter of finding the software you need to install and getting it done. Using the Find-Package cmdlet to discover packages coupled with the Install-Package cmdlet, you can add these cmdlets into existing automation scripts for a full-blown software automation script!

Got questions? Ask our readers!

WServerNews goes out each week to more than 500,000 IT pro subscribers worldwide! That’s a lot of expertise to tap into. Do you need help with some technical problem or are looking for expert advice on something IT-related? Ask Our Readers by emailing your problems and/or questions to us at [email protected]

Tip of the Week

>> Got any IT pro tips you’d like to share with other readers of our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Internet Explorer not remembering last window size

A few back I posted a tip on our TechGenix site about how Internet Explorer couldn’t seem to remember the size I had set it’s window to when I last opened it. At the time I was still using Windows 7 and explained the problem here and also a workaround I had stumbled across:

Recently a reader saw this article and posted the following comment which explains how to make this work on Windows 10:

Here’s one that works on Windows 10 when I launch IE from its pinned taskbar icon, but doesn’t work when I launch from a URL shortcut (incidentally I have folder C:\Users\rcarnegie\Quick Launch mounted as a “Toolbar” inside the taskbar, that’s where the URL is) – Position the window as you want it, size and location, then hold down the Ctrl keyboard key and click on the “X” graphical button at top right of IE’s window. Then IE will open in that position, until something else changes it. Try this with other programs too.

The reader also suggested a few other tools you can use that sidestep this problem:

Alternatively… I also use a third-party utility called “AutoHotkey”. Besides trapping keystrokes in games (its original role), and having a very crude programming language, it can send a bunch of fancy commands to other programs, including window size and position. This lets me use a touch-screen keyboard program called “Fitaly” with the right-side one-quarter of the screen occupied by the taskbar and Fitaly sitting on the taskbar area, which otherwise would have Fitaly pushed away from the border or else hidden by the taskbar; every couple of seconds, my AutoHotkey script pushes Fitaly to the front of the screen. If you want details, contact rja dot surname at gmail – using my surname if you see what I mean.

Hope that’s helpful to some of you!

Got a tip of your own you’d like to share with our newsletter readers? Email me at [email protected]

Admin Toolbox

>> Got any admin tools or software you’d like to recommend to our readers? Email us at [email protected]

Need to migrate tons of emails to a new email server? Then you should have a look at email archiving first. We recommend the email archiving solution MailStore Server:

Learn SQL Server from scratch with a free self-study guide from Veeam. It will form the solid foundation of your future DBA expertise.

SDelete is a command line utility that can securely delete a file, or clean the slack space:

SpaceMonger is a graphical utility to display folders and files in blocks relative to their disk usage:

IObit Software Updater offers a user-friendly method to keep one’s operating system up to date and running efficiently:


A reader named Nick from Cape Town, South Africa responded to last week’s issue about licensing changes for Microsoft products by highlighting a similar recent move on the part of Cisco:

Mitch, you think Microsoft is ‘licensed to kill’ its customers? Check out what Cisco has done recently:

Thanks for alerting me. Do any of our readers expect to be impacted by this Cisco licensing change? What are you planning to do about it? Email me at [email protected]

Factoid – Lorem ipsum and corporate success

Last week’s factoid and question was this:

Fact: Whenever you attend an IT event or conference you usually end up collecting a bunch of swag from the registration desk and the vendor display area. Most of the swag you collect is junk and ends up in the trash can when you get home, but once in a while something actually turns out to be useful.

Question: Has any of the swag you received at an IT event or conference ever been useful to YOU?

Several readers commented on this one including a reader named Mark who said:

Lotusphere conferences were known for their terrific backpacks between 2006 and 2011, and I still use my trusty Lotusphere 2006 backpack to carry my laptop, and the 2007 – 2011 ones when I go on various trips and we need a backpack. They’re bright yellow so they’re easy to see!

I remember Lotusphere fondly…sort of. I wonder if they’re still around?

Another reader named Pete sounds like he’s a real collector of swag:

hey Mitch, I’ve been very good at collecting swag over the years, and a lot of it has been passed on to user group members, family, and friends. Apart from the usual suspects the best swag I have picked up over the years included:

* sleeveless vest (instead of t-shirt) – fantastic for working in datacentres (13 years and still being used)

* 4000mwh battery pack in a thin (very pocketable) form factor with built-in micro USB cable – has saved me from a flat phone more times than I can count (5 years and still being used)

* international power adapter – takes the worry out of having to research what power outlets I need to find connectors for when travelling internationally (10 years and still being used)

* multi USB cables (the ones with USB-A at one end and mini / micro / lightning / etc at the other) – there is always someone who needs to charge their phone and hasn’t got a cable – this is my most “borrowed” item (many over the years)

* titanium spork – doesn’t set off airport metal detectors. (8 years and used at least weekly since then)

This is just the top 5 of the many swag items that I’ve gotten use of (torches, screwdriver sets, wireless mouse, cable bags, etc) over the years.

I had to look up that last one (spork) on Wikipedia which said:

A spork (a portmanteau of spoon and fork) is a hybrid form of cutlery taking the form of a spoon-like shallow scoop with two to four tines.

Naturally this left me wondering about the entomology of the word “portmanteau” since it sounds to me like a type of luggage fashionable in the Belle Epoch era of France.

And guess what–I was right! But according to the Oxford Dictionary portmanteau can also refer to a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (from ‘motor’ and ‘hotel’) or brunch (from ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’). But I wonder how a term describing a kind of suitcase ended up becoming a grammatical term?

Anyways, let’s move on now to this week’s factoid:

Fact: Businesses often use generic templates to create their websites, then they customize their sites by adding their company information. Sometimes however they fail to remove all of the generic info from the template.

Source: While researching different brands and makes of SUVs on sites of car dealers in our locality, I decided to visit the financing site of one of them to find out more information on financing terms for purchasing new vehicles. When I opened the home page of their financing site, this is what I found — note the part I’ve highlighted in red:

Really?!?? And you want me to buy a car from you??

Question: What’s the worst example of a template-generated business website you’ve ever stumbled across?

Email your answer to [email protected]

Conference calendar

>> Got an IT conference or event happening that you’d like to promote in our newsletter? Email us at [email protected]

Microsoft Ignite 2019

Nov 4-8, 2019 in Orlando, Florida

Other Microsoft conferences

Microsoft Licensing Boot Camps

  • Sept 10-11 in Chicago, Illinois
  • Oct 15-16 in Dallas, Texas
  • Dec 9-10 in Seattle, Washington


Infosec conferences

Cyber Security Summit – Sept. 25 in Charlotte, North Carolina

Cyber Security Summit – Oct 3 in New York City

SecTor – Oct 9-10 in Ontario, Canada

Global Cyber Summit – Oct 13-16 in Miami Beach, Florida

Cyber Security Summit – Oct 17 in Scottsdale, Arizona

Cyber Security Summit – Nov 7 in Boston, Massachusetts

Cyber Security Summit – Nov 21 in Houston, Texas

Cyber Security Summit – Dec 5 in Los Angeles, California


Other conferences

CloudyCon – Sept 10-12 in Burlingame, California

Hosting & Cloud Transformation Summit – Sept 23-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada

VMworld – Nov 4-7 in Barcelona, Spain

Midwest Management Summit – Nov 11-13 in New Orleans, Louisiana

European SharePoint, Office 365 & Azure Conference – Dec 2-5 in Prague, Czech Republic

SharePoint Fest – Dec 9-13 in Chicago, Illinois


Podcast Corner

Inclusive design with Intuit’s Vince Abbate (The T-Suite)

Your Career Path to the Future (Windows Insider)

Slaying PowerShell Dragons (Microsoft Cloud IT Pro Podcast)

We’ve Got a New Site! (Microsoft Cloud Show)

Devopsdays Minneapolis 2019 (Arrested DevOps)

Hack-In-A-Box (This Week in Enterprise Tech)

New on

Lock it down: Securing and protecting your IoT network

Even the slightest misconfiguration of an IoT network can serve as a point of entry for cyberattacks, security breaches, data theft, and more.

Using Desktop Analytics to ease Windows update headaches

Microsoft Desktop Analytics has the potential to greatly simplify the preparation for future Windows 10 update releases. Here’s more on this feature.

Microsoft unveils preview version of Azure Dedicated Host

Microsoft’s new Azure Dedicated Host will help organizations run their Linux and Windows virtual machines on single-tenant physical servers.

Azure Blueprints: Building and automating better and faster deployments

Using Azure Blueprints, you can automate the creation of ARM Templates, Azure policies, and RBAC permissions in a single package with just a few clicks.

Working with the free Hyper-V Configuration Tool from ManageEngine

ManageEngine offers a free Hyper-V Configuration Tool that comes with some nice features. But don’t expect it to replace Hyper-V Manager.

Fun videos from Flixxy

Juggling Comedian Michael Davis

Comedian Michael Davis performs at the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson:

Amazing Mongolian Strong Man Takes Judges For A Ride

Amazing Mongolian strong man Tulga wows the Judges and the audience with his incredible strength!

Woman Climbing A Tower In A Mini Skirt

A beautiful woman in a miniskirt climbing a high tower:

1914 – The Year You Could Mail A Baby

Did you know, that in 1914 you could mail a baby using the US Postal Service!?

More articles of interest

End Users Will Make or Break an Office 365 Migration

When migrating to Office 365, IT admins need to keep the end users in mind. That was the big takeaway from a training session at a Virtual Technology User Group event in Maine.

Evaluate Citrix Cloud Cost Concerns and Advantages

VDI in the cloud isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Here’s how to weigh pros and cons, using Citrix Cloud as an example, before purchasing a cloud subscription.

Examine the Role of VMware in the HCI Market

VMware carved out a leading position for itself in the HCI market. But HCI’s evolution to encompass new areas, such as public cloud, keeps VMware on its toes.

VM Cost Calculation Guide

Proper VM cost assessment is a critical element of meaningful showback and chargeback practices in a virtual data center.

Send us your feedback!

Got feedback about anything in this issue of WServerNews? Email us at [email protected]

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