Recently while visiting a friends house, I ran into a situation where I had to use his computer. His computer is a rather old one which he has seldom maintained properly. He still has Windows 98 loaded on it. The very same Windows OS which came pre-installed on his computer when he bought it a couple of years back. And most applications including the web browser (IE) have not been updated. In fact the web browser he has on it is IE 4.0. And as you will know, IE 4.0 does not have good CSS support and so render most websites poorly. And on top of all that, he is so tech phobic that he was not inclined to allow any other software on his machine.
That was when I felt the need for a solution where in I could use a standalone version of my favorite applications. And after some googling, I came across this unique website called portableapps.com which has a collection of many Open Source and GPLed software which I use on a daily basis.
The idea is that you can use these applications without installing on the hard disk. For instance, faced with a situation such as mine, you can easily carry all the applications on a USB stick and then just plug in the USB stick and click on the necessary application to start using it. It is as simple as that.
The website provides the portable applications bundled as a suite in two different formats which is :
- Standard format 89.5 MB and
- Lite format 30.4 MB size
At present, there are over 50 different open source applications including the latest version of Firefox (2.0). And all the applications are guaranteed to work in Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Vista and Wine. Some applications are also known to work in Windows 95 too.
Advantages of using portable apps
You can carry the following things with you on a USB stick ...
- Your web browser with all your favorite bookmarks
- Your calendar with all your appointments
- Email client with all your contacts and settings
- Instant messenger and your buddy list
- The whole office suite (OpenOffice.org) along with your documents and presentations
- An anti-virus program and other computer utilities
- All your important passwords and account information securely.
- Have your favorite websites handy to recommend to a friend or colleague
- Have your presentation AND the required software ready to go for that big meeting
- Have your password with you if you want to bank online while traveling
- Have utilities handy when visiting family or friends that are having PC problems
If you are always on the move and are forced to use computers not your own, then this handy suite of open source applications will be a real convenience to you especially if you are wedded to using open source applications to get your job done.