Thursday, August 26, 2010

Software Catalog?

Here’s a fun question:  How do you catalog and archive your software collections?

I’m talking about all of the programs downloaded from various websites, driver files, backup copies of original disks and the like.  Things that are useful to keep around in case you ever want to reinstall from scratch, or your hard drive fails, or in cases such as mine, where I need to support a small network where every workstation gets the same software installed.

I currently use a set of folders on a backup drive, with a spreadsheet to tell me things like versions, date, developer’s website and so on.  Given the amount of software I’ve collected, though, the spreadsheet has gotten a little out of hand, and I’m curious: Is there a better way?


Mingus Waits said...

I would recommend a quick and dirty database with a simple UI and a couple quick query statements for report generation. (something I am working on in class right now so its fresh in my head). I know you are more handy with database programming than I am, thus the recommendation.
As to the software itself, perhaps storing it on DropBox. Though, I think the backup drive is really your best option.
If it is freeware, I tend to simply install the newest version from the developer rather than keep outdated copies around.

Jeremiah said...

I have thought about rolling my own database for such a thing, but am curious if there is anything already out there - no sense reinventing the wheel as they say.

Part of the point in keeping the catalog on a local disk rather than downloading every time is that the software is readily handy. There are a few programs that I like to keep around as well, even if the developer isn't supporting or distributing them anymore, and the website might be down. (We have a lot of plugins for our CAD software that falls in this category).

With driver installation files, sometimes I have a hard time finding the right files online for my antiquing hardware. I've been burned by video card manufacturers especially who only like to keep drivers on their website for their most recent cards. In such cases, when I find a driver that works, I like to hang onto the installer.

What I envision is a piece of software which catalogs the installer files in a given folder much in the same way that Picasa or other picture software catalogs photos. Add tags, keep information such as version, developer's website and such linked to the file, do batch operations for archival, deletion, etc and maybe even operations for installation of groups of software (Or create packages for distribution to the network or burn to CD.).

That would be swell.