It’s a sad state of affairs when you buy a new computer these days and it comes pre-loaded with a ton of garbage software that brings your new machine to a crawl. If anyone’s bought a Dell PC in the last few years, you probably know what I’m talking about. Just recently, I was helping a friend set up his brand new Inspiron 1300 and it took FOREVER for it to boot up. It’s a very dissatifiying experience to pull a brand new computer out of the box and be spammed with a bunch of trial software. After removing all of the crap, (wich took a significant amount of time) it booted much faster and performed like it should. I kept thinking it would be nice to have an automated way to remove all this stuff. Thus was born the Dell De-Crapifier script.
Now, to be fair, I know most all of the major PC manufacturers have similar practices of installing trialware. I would suspect they don’t make any profit on the hardware (or even a loss) and they make their money on the kickbacks from the software companies. I don’t know.
Anyway, I wrote the Dell De-Crapifier using a great little scripting tool called AutoIT. You can use it to automate pretty much anything in Windows. There is also a cool editor called SciTE that gives you all the tools you need to put together a script. The best thing about this whole system is that you can generate stand alone executables that don’t require a runtime.
The script displays only a simple dialog box in the upper left corner of the screen. It’s only purpose is to show the current status. Eventually, this may have a progress bar, but for this application, it wouldn’t be that useful. The dialog really just displays the same information that is being saved to the log.The script was created for a Dell Inspiron 1300, but it should work just fine on many other Dell computers. I’ve also written the script in a modular way so that it can be easily expanded to uninstall additional programs. I’m really hoping that through additional contributions, that this script would be enhanced to cover just about any standard Dell installation. It could also be used as a baseline for other PC manufacturers. I’m willing to maintain and host the script(s) if people want to send me enhancements. I’d like to keep to the following guidelines though:
- Any uninstall routine must be able to check if the program is installed before running the uninstall. This can be as simple as checking the existance of the main executable. If it doesn’t exist, it should skip the process.
- The uninstall must run completely unattended. Foretunately, most MSI installers have a silent uninstall, but other programs, such as AOL requires automated button presses.
- Any uninstall routine must use the standard functions I’ve created for logging. These can certainly be expanded, but it would be good for all routines to use one logging mechanism. This also allows for the simple GUI box to be updated in a consistent manner.
- Any non-standard program should be uninstalled. Exceptions are made for the Dell utilities that are needed to maintain the PC and drivers and such. For the annoying Dell Support tool, I did not uninstall it, but I prevented it from running on start up. In general, anything that’s part of the operating system that’s optional should be left alone. Anything that’s freely downloadable should be removed. I don’t want to get into any debate as to whether the Google Search bar is useful/annoying or not. The fact is, it’s not part of a standard build, and you can easily download it, so it should be removed.
There are some things that I would like to enhance. The major thing is the reboot issue. If an uninstall routine really needs to reboot the machine, the script should put an entry in the RunOnce registry key and allow the machine to reboot, then pick up where it left off. The other major feature I’d like to have is the ability to select the available installed applications and then automatically uninstall only the selected apps. This would eliminate any whining about my last guideline.
USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! If this script totally hoses your machine, it’s not my fault!
Let the De-Crapifying begin…