Free Setup Utilities (Installers / Uninstallers)

Distribute your application with an Installer and Uninstaller (Setup)

Free Setup Utilities (Installers)

One way to make your application more user-friendly is to bundle it with a setup utility (or installer) to automate the installation of your program on your users' computers. Some of these installers also provide an uninstaller so that users can remove your program when they do not want to use it anymore. A number of the setup wizards listed here can create self-extracting distribution files, which are especially useful if you are distributing your application over the Internet and are dealing with novice users who don't know how to extract a (say) zip file.

Note: if you are distributing your applications by CD or DVD, you may also be interested in the Free Autorun/Autoplay DVD and CD Menu Creation Software, which allows your program CD/DVD to automatically start when your users place them in the DVD drive.

For those who have arrived at this page looking for a general purpose software uninstaller to cleanly remove programs you've installed on your computer, please see the Free Uninstallers page instead. This page that you're looking at is meant for people (eg, programmers) packaging their software for distribution.

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Free Setup Utilities / Install Wizards

AppImage (Linux) New

This is not strictly an installer in the Windows sense of the word, but a means of packaging your Linux binaries so that it can be executed on any Linux distribution. All the shared libraries required by your application is bundled together into one file and compressed. Your end-user does not need to install anything. In fact, they can even run your package as a non-root user, or execute it from a USB drive. When run, the image is transparently mounted with FUSE (Filesystem in Userspace), and the appropriate program executed with the bundled shared libraries. Your end-user's system libraries and preferences are not altered. You can choose to either store your application's preferences and data in the usual place (eg, in the user's home directory) or in the appimage itself (useful if you want the program to run from a USB drive). With this program, you can finally create a single bundle for your application that can be used on any Linux distribution, the way Windows and Mac OS X programs can, without the headache of packaging for a zillion distributions, each with their own versions of shared libraries and the like.

Inno Setup (Windows)

Inno Setup is a well-known Windows installer that can create self-extracting SETUP executables. It can also install an uninstaller for your application files. One nice feature about this program is that you can generate your distribution files from either a GUI IDE or from the command line (useful for those using makefiles to automate development). The Setup file created is extremely small. The program also supports disk-spanning. Source code for the installer is available. Development is ongoing, and there is support for other languages. You may use the installer for both commercial and non-commercial programs, free of charge.

Nullsoft Install System (Scriptable) (Windows)

Nullsoft provides a free scriptable installer that you can use to package your applications. The installer only adds 20-40k of overhead to your distributable file. It can compress your files with zip or bzip2, register ActiveX controls (and deregister them as well), run another executable, call DLLs, create shortcuts, set registry entries, find windows that are open (for example, to detect whether an existing version of your application is currently running), flow control, etc.

Spoon Installer (Windows)

Spoon Installer is an open source Windows setup utility released under the BSD licence. It creates a single compressed setup executable file for your applications. Update: it doesn't appear as though this program is still being maintained, since the last update is in 2005.

HJ-Install (Windows)

This is a Win32 installer without an uninstaller. Documentation for the version I checked suggests that it cannot create self-extracting executables. Update: this program is no longer being maintained.

QuickInstall (Windows)

A Win32 installer that allows you to add keys to the registry and supports more than one language. It is only for Windows 95, 98 and NT.

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