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Force Reinstalling Many Choco Packages

··3 mins

Earlier last year a made a pretty nasty mistake that resulted in several Chocolatey packages getting partially removed. I say partially because the binary files were gone but the Chocolatey metadata was still in tact.

Configuration Management should fix this… right? #

Now normally if something gets uninstalled a configuration manager would attempt to reinstall, but because the Chocolatey metadata still shows as installed, the config manager would skip it. So how can we fix it?

Chocolatey Packages.config #

Chocolatey supports pointing to an XML manifest file as a source of the packages needing to be installed. See Packages.config. For our example we want something simple with just a package id and a version.

Let’s create our packages.config #

Let’s get a list of our packages in a format that’s easily parsable with the LimitOutput flag -r. We also only want local packages so we’ll use the local flag -l.

The -r returns a list with a | as a delimiter.
$apps = choco list -lr

$apps at this point is all our apps so we’ll want to filter it down. We will want to create a pattern match to identify our packages (if possible). In the following example I’ll search for all packages that start with foo.

$regex = "^foo"
$subset = $apps | Select-String -Pattern $regex

You’ll probably want to inspect this to make sure you have all your expected packages.

From here you’ll need to create the XML. Luckily PowerShell has the System.XML.XmlWriter object. I’ll spare you the gory bits (which you can see in the complete script), but at a high level it…

  1. Sets up the XML settings (indentation)
  2. Creates an XML file with the settings
  3. Starts creating the XML content with the packages element
  4. Loops over each app in $subset and adds a package element
  5. Ends the packages elements
  6. Closes and writes the file

Complete Script #

I put the two variables you’ll need to edit at the top. The script won’t execute anything other then creating a config file. You’ll still need to ask choco to install it.

# Update fhe following tool for your scenario
$regex = '^YourRegExPatternHere$'
# Where you want to save your file. It should have .config extension
$XmlFilePath = "C:\tools\package_fix.config"

# Get a list of all your local (-l) choco apps in a simple to parse (-r) format 
$apps = choco list -lr

# Select a subset off apps that you want to reinstall
$subset = $apps | Select-String -Pattern $regex

# Begin building the XML
$xmlObjectsettings = New-Object System.Xml.XmlWriterSettings
$xmlObjectsettings.Indent = $true

$XmlObjectWriter = [System.XML.XmlWriter]::Create(

# Create an XML element for each package in the subset
# Should look like: <package id="git" version="" />
$subset | ForEach-Object {
  $name, $ver = $_.ToString().Split('|')
  $XmlObjectWriter.WriteAttributeString("id", $name);
  $XmlObjectWriter.WriteAttributeString("version", $ver);

# Close the packages element

# Finally close the XML Document

Write-Host "Now you can run: choco install -fy $XmlFilePath"

Resolution #

Now with the script we’ve created an XML file that we can point Chocolatey to. The last output will be a command you can copy and paste to have choco do the install.

While my example started with a need to reinstall, you could imagine a scenario where we want to generate a set of files to install. Let me know if you think of anything cool!

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash