Portable Applications revisited

I’m a great fan of Portable Applications. First, because they’re free; second: because they are portable. Two years ago I had a post on the subject, and I finished with

I never leave the house without my 3 USB flash drives.

These flash drives were 4, 4 and 2 GB, but I was already running out of storage space by the time I wrote that entry. So, later I had 3 8GB and 1 4 GB sticks, all in one USB-hub, that I plugged into any computer I had to work with. But in the end that didn’t suffice either. So, the next step was to by an extra external LaCie harddisc of 350 GB, that is jam-packed with portable software and gives me enough space to store my data on the fly.

Now, last week, LifeHacker had a Hive-Five of the best Portable Applications. Portable Applications (what’s in a name?) won and that is a good thing – I think John Haller deserves it. But, I have to admit that I myself use Geek.Menu, which is a fork of PortApps, but with a lay-out I like slightly more.
Even better for me is that I learned about some other PA-suites, like LiberKey and Lupo PenSuite. They all have their own pros and cons. LiberKey is similar to WinPenPack, that didn’t participate in the competition and that has more (and some other) applications than PortApps. Only WPP doesn’t update automatically, so every now and then you have to visit the site. And Lupo…well, I don’t like the design of the menu, but this suite also has some applications that make it unique, e.g. Opera 10 (no longer maintained in U3).

Okay, now I mentioned it: there is also U3, but this has only a few free applications, it is commercial. You can make some other programs fit for U3 with Package Factory, but until now I didn’t succeed with one of my preferred programs to convert them to a U3-compatible portable program. I don’t understand why people should buy U3, because there is nothing you can do with it that is n’t also possible with one of the other Portable Suites. U3 is sold when you buy the SanDisk flash drive, so I think innocent people buy a USB-stick, the shop-assistant gives you SanDisk, unless you know what you want and ask for something else. (You can remove the U3, but hey, you’ve paid for it, and it is not just a matter of deleting the files).
I’ve heard rumours that USB manufacturers have shown interest in selling PortableApps on their flash drives in the near future too, and I desperately hope that it will be only a rumour.

The last suite, also mentioned in my previous post about PortApps is Mojopac, that has the advantage of giving the user the possibility to install software on a virtual Windows installation, and to have, in fact, your complete PC into your pocket.

Just plug your MojoPack into any PC and instantly turn it into your own familiar desktop, with instant access to all your files and applications

promises the site. But it works only with Windows XP, so no MojoPack for Vista users.

Okay, this is how I work now: I have my 350GB LaCie portable drive with Geek.menu/PortApps installed. In the software line-up of the menu there is also LiberKey, Lupo and WinPenPack installed, that I fire up only when I need one of the programs installed on either suites – e.g. EMule, or FreeMind. I’m happy with my portable life.
There is only one wish left: It would be great if I could take my Music Notation Software (Finale) and a Digital Audio Workstation with me on my Drive. There are some small programs, like MusiScore, available for WinPenPack, but they don’t give what I need, and I can’t load the files in Finale. So, for my Core Business as a musician/composer I still have to carry my Laptop with me.

Leave a Reply

  • The Aesthetics and Beauty of Knowledge

    Shih was the opposite of facts and raw information; shih was the elegance of knowledge, the insight and skill to organize knowledge into meaningful patterns. As an artist chooses colours or light to make her pictures, a master of shih chooses textures of knowledge – various ideas, myths, abstractions, and theories – to create a way of seeing the world. The aesthetics and beauty of knowledge – this was shih.

    – David Zindell, The Broken God, 1993

  • Geek Attitude

    The attitude thing is about flexibility, portability, creativity, sociability and jamming (ran out of suitable “ity” words!). It’s about improvising – in the practical and musical senses of the word; not getting tangled in boundaries and the “right” way to do things.
    Definitely the only way to travel.
    Martin Delaney – “Laptop Music”.