TaT NeverInstallNBAgain

Never Install NetBeans Again (Just use the Zip)

Contributed By; Peter Thomas


Okay, that title was just to grab your attention :) What I mean is that I’m going to show you how to use the NetBeans ZIP distribution on Windows so that you never need to use the installer executable again. If you are like me and would like total control over the folders that NetBeans uses, or if you hate installing things onto Windows because of all that stuff that gets added to the programs menu and your user profile folders and maybe your registry - you will probably like this approach.

Getting Started

Now that NetBeans 6.1 is out, this is a good way for you to try it out in an un-intrusive manner especially if you have an older version of NetBeans already installed.

Although most people use the platform specific installers, NetBeans can also be downloaded as a platform-independent ZIP file. You can get the various flavors here for 6.1 RC: http://dlc.sun.com.edgesuite.net/netbeans/6.1/rc/zip/

Tips & Tricks

I am going to use the "javase" version which is just 50MB. I can’t help mentioning that two years back, one of the main reasons I switched to NetBeans was because I felt that Eclipse was getting too bloated for comfort. Never regretted it, and especially now that Apache Wicket is my web-framework of choice - the NetBeans "javase" version is just perfect because Wicket only needs HTML and Java editing support.

After downloading the file, in this case called "netbeans-6.1rc1-200804100130-javase.zip" extract it to any folder of your choice. Create a batch file (you can call it “netbeans.bat”) and place it in the top level “netbeans” folder itself with the following contents:


set JAVA_HOME=C:\peter\app\jdk1.6.0_02
set NETBEANS_USER_DIR=C:\peter\workspaces\netbeans

start /b %NETBEANS_HOME%\bin\netbeans.exe --jdkhome %JAVA_HOME% --userdir %NETBEANS_USER_DIR%

The first two lines are DOS hacks to obtain the path of the current directory (without a trailing slash) where you un-zipped NetBeans. You should point the JAVA_HOME to the JDK you wish to use. And finally, you can customize the folder where NetBeans saves your settings (which by default goes somewhere into your "Documents and Settings" folder). The "start /b" part is a way to make the console window "disappear" after NetBeans launches otherwise you may terminate it later and kill NetBeans by mistake.

That’s it! Now just double-click on the batch file and NetBeans will start and even create the "userdir" if it does not exist. I actually use NetBeans like this on a daily basis. It should be easy to evaluate NetBeans this way - you don’t have to go through any un-install step (in the unlikely event that you don’t like NetBeans :)

This is a nice way to control which JDK NetBeans uses, which is useful in case you have multiple JDKs installed. I use this approach for conducting training workshops where I provide a ZIP that includes NetBeans, a custom bundled JDK and a sample project - the batch file uses relative paths, just unzip and you are good to go.

Work Ahead

Now that NetBeans 6.5 is out, it might need some revision. However, you can try out the above tricks on NB 6.5 and let me know 1, how does it work?

#1 From blog entry; http://ptrthomas.wordpress.com/2008/04/13/never-install-netbeans-again

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