Scoop or Chocolatey? Which Windows 10 package manager should you use?

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Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve published overview guides for two of the most prominent third-party package managers for Windows 10: Scoop and Chocolatey.

At this point, you may be wondering why you should pick one over the other. At their core, both have similar featuresets, and ultimately allow you to automate software installations on Windows PCs. With that said, Scoop and Chocolatey have different implementation models which make each better suited to particular specialisms.

Installing 7zip with Scoop

Read on as we compare the two, so you can evaluate which is best for you. If you’re new to package managers, we recommend reading our previous articles first, to see how these tools work in practice.

As a quick reminder, Scoop and Chocolatey both enable you to install Windows programs from the command line, using a single command. They avoid the need to manually visit download sites and click through graphical installers. Package managers also simplify checking for and downloading updates, so you can be sure you’re running the latest versions of your apps.

Comparing Chocolatey and Scoop

On the face of it, Chocolatey and Scoop are two similar tools. Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find several small but collectively significant differences. Of these, the most important to note is their differing aims.

Chocolatey describes itself as “software management automation” for Windows. It’s capable of automatically installing over 20 Windows package types without manual intervention. Out-of-the-box, it comes configured with support for close to 7,000 popular programs, including desktop favourites such as Google Chrome and VLC Media Player.

Screenshot of using Chocolatey package manager

Scoop also installs Windows software with a single command. However, it has a slightly narrower, more focused aim. First and foremost, it’s a developer’s tool for installing system utilities – particularly those which are relied upon on Linux systems, but not found by default on Windows.

According to its creator, Scoop “focuses on open-source, command-line developer tools.” Scoop can install regular Windows desktop programs, such as Chrome and VLC, but you’ll normally need to manually add an extra repository before doing so.

Scoop

Chocolatey’s expanded default package selection means it’s likely to be the best choice for a user who only wants one package manager. Without any extra configuration, you can install hundreds of popular programs. There’s even a GUI available if you don’t want to use the terminal.

However, Chocolatey’s broader focus also brings additional complexity. Chocolatey relies on Windows PowerShell and its NuGet package manager system, which is primarily targeted at resolving software library dependencies. Chocolately also tends to require administrator privileges to run, which means you’ll be interrupted by UAC popups.

By contrast, Scoop does not use NuGet and refrains from installing programs globally. Instead, apps are scoped to your user account, and are installed to a special directory to avoid path pollution. Scoop even distances itself from being seen as a package manager, as it solely “reads manifests that describe how to install a program and its dependencies.”

So which is right for you?

As always with a comparison of two similar tools, “it depends.”

If you want a quick and simple way to install familiar Windows programs, Chocolatey is probably for you. Its extensive community-driven package repository means you’ll find almost all popular Windows programs are available with no extra configuration.

Screenshot of using Chocolatey package manager

However, if you want to scope programs to a user account, don’t have administrator access or are primarily looking for developer tools, Scoop should probably be your preference. It’s technically simpler, less impactful on your system’s directory structure and more lightweight than Chocolatey. Support for popular Windows desktop programs is easily added through the scoop-extras repository.

Naturally, both Chocolatey and Scoop also have many additional features, benefits and drawbacks which we haven’t discussed here. In particular, Chocolatey has a number of specialist capabilities aimed at businesses, which make it a better fit for enterprises and system administrators. Meanwhile, Scoop’s simplified “package” model means it’s fairly trivial for app developers to add support – a single file in a Git repository will enable installation via Scoop.

Ultimately, the best option comes down to your individual priorities. For most Windows users, we suspect Chocolatey provides the best balance of convenience and power, while Scoop offers a more streamlined but developer-centric experience for those who are unhappy with Chocolatey’s limitations.

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