Portable apps to the rescue!

Portable Apps

Are you tired to install applications that weaken stability of your OS? Or you just want to bring in a USB Pen Drive all your desktop applications to run them at work, at home and everywhere? The solution for both problems is “portable apps”.
A “portable app” is an application that does not need to be installed, and it’s just able to run from any folder and any media; for example a Pen Drive or Memory Cards. This makes the application less intrusive/dangerous for the host Operating System and, virtually, you could leave your laptop at home and bring a PenDrive in your pocket with all the necessary software, documents, and data everywhere. I found a couple of sites that distribute some portable version of most successful free software.

PortableApps.com distributes some modified version of Firefox, ThunderBird, SunBird, AbiWord, OpenOffice, etc. Notice that on my laptop the portable OpenOffice supplied didn’t work.

WinPenPack.com collects some portable applications and makes use of a launcher called X-Launcher that can run almost any application modifying environment settings to make the application portable. Think it as a sandbox or a runtime environment. So, WinPenPack makes available a huge collection of applications for any need. On WinPenPack there are packaged downloads of 256Mb or 512Mb, that fills in appropriate sized pen drives; but the nice thing is that you can choice to make your own a selection of portable software to best fit your needs, with WinPenPack Personal. There’s also a nice launcher called “WinPenPack Launcher” that can run from the traybar and it’s a sort of start menu for portable apps.

There are also some concerns: using portable apps “everywhere” brings the problem of security. You could run your apps in an Internet Cafe or other untrusted environments and contract some virus. It would be nice to use a “read-only” partition that hosts portable applications and a separate writeable partition hosting saved data with no executables. Tweaking a little with X-Launcher should do the work, and, also there are some security applications that can handle separate partitions (also encrypted) to avoid the problem. And, of course, there are some portable antivirus.

One Response to “Portable apps to the rescue!”  

  1. 1 John T. Haller

    The version of Portable OpenOffice.org included with the Suite is a bit dated at this point. Please try the standalone version on your laptop (you’ll probably find that it works fine). A new version of OpenOffice.org Portable is coming out on Tuesday and a new version of the Portable Apps Suite is coming on Wednesday.

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August 2006
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