An excellent FOSS installer for your tool kit

Extraordinary pieces of software

This was when I realized that an installer would be a really good idea. It is not like it is particularly difficult to install a screen saver file, but the target market for this was probably going to be more willing to use the screen saver if they didn't have to do much thinking.

And here's where I discovered another software gem. Nullsoft, those studly programmers who brought you the excellent Winamp multimedia player, have a Windows installer system called the Nullsoft Scriptable Install System (NSIS) that it has turned loose as open source freeware!

NSIS is amazing. For a start it is really flexible, skinable, has plug-ins to extend its functionality, and is supported by a large, enthusiastic user community. Under the hood, NSIS is a really sophisticated script compiler with conditional macros, looping, libraries and there's even an NSIS plug-in for Eclipse! This is a tool that is highly desirable as part of your enterprise IT tool kit.

Now, in common with any complex system, there's a lot of learning required to come to grips with NSIS, but I found a shortcut: The freeware Mihov NSIS Helper.

Mihov provides a simple form-based user interface to create a basic installation from which it generates an NSIS script. You then load that script into NSIS and, voila! You have an installer. This was an incredible place to start from but, as a Windows screen saver is essentially system software, I needed to make a few changes.

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Mark Gibbs

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