Friday, March 02, 2007

Portable Apps

A cool thing I am now using in earnest: portable apps. Applications you don't install on your computer and you can take with you to other computers. They live on a USB flashdrive. To use them, you plug the flashdrive in and start the frontend program. It then lives in the tray and is accessed by a single click of the mouse.

An assortment of applications are available specifically for the system; all are open source and have been recompiled to write all their settings to the flashdrive rather than your registry. Among them are:

  • Firefox - web browser
  • Open Office 2.0 suite
  • AbiWord - word processor
  • 7Z - compression/archiving; like Winzip
  • VLC - media player
  • FileZilla - FTP program

Other apps include an anti-virus program, Sudoku, and Instant Messaging client. I gather more are being added.

So far, it works like a charm. Hearing the rumblings that we may soon have to remove Firefox from our company laptops has generated a great deal of interest amongst my co-workers.

PortableApps: highly recommended!

Of course the other type of portable apps are those that are web-based. Email (Yahoo, Gmail, etc) is the most stunning success story here, but see also Meebo for multi-protocol instant messaging, LogMeIn for remote access/control, and Google Docs for word processing and spreadsheets.

Though slower to run, the web-based apps are, for the most part, fairly platform independent - some thing important to me now that I have a multi-platform household (Windows, Mac, Linux).

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