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279 comments

I know an Ultaportable App (4, Funny)

Stevyn (691306) | about 9 years ago | (#12004981)

It's called Spellbound

It's a great Firefox extension. You can spell check any field.

Re:I know an Ultaportable App (3, Funny)

Tribbin (565963) | about 9 years ago | (#12005088)

Especially usefull for spelling-nazi.

Re:I know an Ultaportable App (3, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | about 9 years ago | (#12005225)

You can rag on them all you want, but we need more spelling and grammar nazi's in the US.

I do government contract work, and correspond with all sorts of bigshot muckety-mucks from cities across the US, from city IT managers to police and fire chiefs, mayors, judges and city attorneys.

Coming from a Canadian living in the US: It's downright sad that Americans are not taught to read or write, and lack basic communication skills. Or maybe they're taught, and forget, because the general culture doesn't place any importance on proper use of language. After all, deriding someone for using slang isn't "PC".

I shouldn't have to recieve an email, only to play phone-tag all day to find out what the fuck they're talking about.

This one particular dork tries to make everything read more "official" by Capitalizing Every Word In Every Sentence.

Gah, beurocrats. All they do is have meetings and set up phone conferences all day.

Re:I know an Ultaportable App (1)

Total_Wimp (564548) | about 9 years ago | (#12005390)

Man, I sympathise with you. Everyone writing policy for a police department should have impecable spelling and grammer on every memo that leaves their desk.

BUT.. when they post to slashdot, use instant messaging or send a quick email to tell their lacky to dump the trash, spelling and grammer do not need to be their number one priority. Give it a rest when it's on "instant" media. You no more need to correct a slashdotters grammer than you need to correct the guy who talks in incomplete sentences. As long as they get their point accross, let them be.

TW

P.S. Haven't loaded spellbound yet. Please give ME a break if I misspelled something.

Re:I know an Ultaportable App (4, Funny)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | about 9 years ago | (#12005608)

Picking on the ocassional typo is one thing, but soem peeple cant seam too speel on dam theng wright, too teh pint off makeing there psots imposible too reed

He's got a blog? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12004999)

Wow, cool. I bet he gets laid all the time.

i do this anyway... (3, Insightful)

Lil-Bondy (849941) | about 9 years ago | (#12005001)

i just get portable firefox on my usb drive and take it wherever, its quite handy when your school only has IE *shudder*

Re:i do this anyway... (1)

Tribbin (565963) | about 9 years ago | (#12005129)

At highschool we used to VNC to our homes to do anything at all. That was much more reliable.

Re:i do this anyway... (2, Interesting)

Performaman (735106) | about 9 years ago | (#12005333)

I still do, and it's damned convenient. No logged passwords (except for the VNC one) or browser caches on school machines.
Can't catch me, I use VNC!

Ultaportable... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005007)

It's like ultraportable, only beter!

-1 Redundant

I do not like green eggs and spam (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005015)

I would not eat them even with a Firefox in a box!

regarding bookmarks... (4, Informative)

jkakar (259880) | about 9 years ago | (#12005017)

I've recently been using http://del.icio.us combined with a live bookmark in my bookmarks toolbar. Now, on the 3 or 4 machines I used regularly I have centralized access to bookmarks. In my case, this turns out to be less hassle than carrying around a thumb drive.

Re:regarding bookmarks... (-1, Troll)

bartyboy (99076) | about 9 years ago | (#12005105)

Dear Sir,

A system that works 3/4 of the time sounds very reliable.

I am intrigued by this idea and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:regarding bookmarks... (5, Informative)

christopherfinke (608750) | about 9 years ago | (#12005180)

I've recently been using http://del.icio.us combined with a live bookmark in my bookmarks toolbar.
You might want to try out Chipmark. [chipmark.com] It's a service created at the University of Minnesota similar to del.icio.us, but it's open source, and they provide a Firefox/Mozilla extension [chipmark.com]. It's pretty good, but then again, I might be biased, since I'm part of the development team.

Re:regarding bookmarks... (1)

SubtleNuance (184325) | about 9 years ago | (#12005450)

ive created an account, logged in and dloaded the extension.

how do you create bookmarks?
how do you access them?

do you have to use the web-form, or does the extension allow you to submit them?
further, can you create a live-bookmark of your chimparks?

Re:regarding bookmarks... (1)

christopherfinke (608750) | about 9 years ago | (#12005466)

After you install the extension, you should have a "Chipmarks" menu in the top menubar next to your Bookmarks menu. After you log in, this menu is all you need to use to add/edit/delete bookmarks, although you can use the website as well.

(You do need to restart Firefox after installing the extension.)

Portable firefox? (2, Insightful)

Nplugd (662449) | about 9 years ago | (#12005021)

Not sure I see the point here. Isn't putting your local profil on your usb key enough to have a portable version of the browser? Because if the only issue is to have as many bookmarks as you have computers, this certainly takes care of that.

Re:Portable firefox? (2, Interesting)

sh00z (206503) | about 9 years ago | (#12005122)

I'm with you. I was hoping that I could use this "portable" function to move a USB keychain between my Powerbook, my wife's XP machine, and a Linux box. It does not appear to support multiple platforms. As it sits now, I'm much better off with the set of Applescripts that I use to push/pull bookmark files in order to synchronize them manually. If I got energetic enough to make the script ignore the "last viewed" part of the differences between these files, I could do a multi-sync every night over TCP/IP.

Re:Portable firefox? (1)

Cheapy (809643) | about 9 years ago | (#12005131)

Well, at my school (as with one of the above poster's), only IE is used on the computers (Even the Macs!), so it is nice to have Portable Firefox on your thumb drive. In fact, that was the main reason I brought mine to school, until I could persuade the computer teacher to let me have a computer that doesn't wipe it's hard drive everytime it is rebooted.

Re:Portable firefox? (0, Redundant)

swtaarrs (640506) | about 9 years ago | (#12005171)

What if you want to be able to run firefox on computers where it isn't installed? I use this at my school so I don't have to use IE on any of the many computers I use during the day.

Re:Portable firefox? (1)

mrbass (742021) | about 9 years ago | (#12005174)

"now my browsing is the same wherever I go."

so are mrbass.org/l [mrbass.org] my bookmarks...requires any computer, not just the few that actually have BIOSes capable of booting USB drives.

Re:Portable firefox? (2, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | about 9 years ago | (#12005233)

RTFA
Does not require booting from USB drive.
-nB

Re:Portable firefox? (1)

nadadogg (652178) | about 9 years ago | (#12005586)

Hey there buddy, be nice to Mr Bass, he puts up mirrors for game patches, and doesn't bitch about the bandwidth bills. Hell, I think I got wolfenstein:ET from his site, at good speeds to boot.

Re:Portable firefox? (1)

mrbass (742021) | about 9 years ago | (#12005611)

I did read it...I know some run in windows and some are mini linux distros that require bootable USB drives. He linked to puppy linux in the article (RTFA yourself) which does require booting from a cdrom or a bootable USB drive.

Maybe you should read the article more carefully next time. linux usb drive distros [distrowatch.com]

One of the huge advantages of USB drives is ability to save configurations, files, etc. Now though that unionfs is coming out on a few live cds having a computer with a cd burner will provide basically the same functionality as the USB linux distros do.

Re:Portable firefox? (5, Interesting)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | about 9 years ago | (#12005384)

Not really. The problem is that many people don't have access to the "admin" account. You can't really install apps (you can "install" them to your desktop and hope an admin doesn't get notified), and can't change any settings. Lots of admins have draconian disk quota policies.

Firefox can be unzipped to a folder. Another folder can act as the profile. You need .bat file to tell it to start and use that profile vice creating one under "Documents and Settings/$user/whatever/". After that, removing disk-caching and boosting the memory cache helps out. Add a shortcut to the desktop of the client pointing to the .bat file on the thumb drive and you are set.

VLC 0.8.1 works great from a thumb drive and plays just about anything you throw at it. When my coworkers curse the admin for not having $codec, they come see me.

WinRAR works perfectly once "installed" to a thumb drive. All you need to do on the client is choose "Open With..." and browse to find winrar.exe on the thumbdrive.

I also have cygwin on my thumbdrive to show off the power of command-line completion to my peers. Plus it always comes in handy for various tasks.

I keep several documents on there too. A current copy of my resume, a list of sites and passwords, some random pr0n, helpful regedits, PHP books in .pdf, basic drivers for my NICs, and pics of my kids.

BTW, banish the thought that pics of my kids and pr0n might be one and the same...they aren't.

We also keep USB keys in the safe with server passwords and configs, router passwords and configs, VPN clients, Sniffer Pro, and anything else the NOC guys ask for. They can literally take the key to any site and turn any laptop into a network config workstation.

It's amazing some of the random shit we find on there when they sign them back in.

Anyway, having tons of apps run from removable media is highly desired in my environment. The ammount of work some guys put into hacking these things to get $fav_app working from them is mind-numbing. To have someone else come up with a "certified" list could save tons of time.

Yeah, but what I really need... (5, Funny)

Faust7 (314817) | about 9 years ago | (#12005024)

Let me know when this electronic thumb can signal spaceships for a lift. ;)

MP3 player (0, Offtopic)

bonch (38532) | about 9 years ago | (#12005049)

You could load some MP3 playing software on one of these and have one of the most pointless music players ever.

Missed one... (1)

Chrontius (654879) | about 9 years ago | (#12005066)

He forgot the Metropipe Virtual Machine, for the tinfoil hat crowd.

Actually, it's a nifty little program, and it'll be niftier when it boots under Windows, Linux and the as-yet-unreleased OSX. It'll be nice to have a little slice of Deus on my thumbdrive if I need ^H^H^H^H^H want to use a familiar interface.

Uh huh... (4, Insightful)

Telastyn (206146) | about 9 years ago | (#12005087)

How about Putty.

Then I don't have to carry around all those apps. I just ssh to my machine that does.

Re:Uh huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005181)

That's about as efficient and useful as a sarcasm detector.

Re:Uh huh... (5, Interesting)

stratjakt (596332) | about 9 years ago | (#12005341)

Until you're behind a firewall that won't let you through, which I was all last week.

It was ridiculous, I was working at this cities administration building, and they provide (in tandem with the local university) free wifi outside, which won't penetrate through the walls.

I had to keep running outside to connect to my home office' vpn, to get to the stuff I needed, as I too, am one of those "I can do it all remotely" types.

Lesson learned, next time I pack it all up to take with me. Of course, in my case, that means a portable 80 gig drive, since I couldn't fit all our stuff on flash.

Re:Uh huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005371)

Yep: Putty, WinSCP, 7zip. Al simple executables with no install.

easier ways to have your bookmarks portable (4, Interesting)

philo_enyce (792695) | about 9 years ago | (#12005093)

i just have a wiki where my bookmarks live. anywhere i go, i open to that page and voila, my bookmarks. since it's a wiki, i can add pages to it from anywhere. no fuss no muss and no cost. philo

What about taking my configuration with me? (2, Interesting)

calibanDNS (32250) | about 9 years ago | (#12005101)

Like many Slashdoters, I often get asked to look at a friend or family memeber's computer to fix a small problem, remove a virus, or install a new piece of hardware. Want I want more than consistent applications is a way to take my OS and application configuration/preferences with me between machines. Nothing is worse than sitting down at a computer with the default Windows XP configuration still being used.

Google... (1)

turtled (845180) | about 9 years ago | (#12005104)

The "rumors" of Google's ultracool desktop will be the all in one. Log in with a dumb terminal, and you have all your bookmarks, files, addressbook, pRon... etc

Re:Google... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005374)

RTFA .. it's ultacool ..

HUGE question about media (2, Interesting)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | about 9 years ago | (#12005108)

Is there a media player that can be ported with all of its codecs?

When I move from machine to machine, I usually install the codec packs and then run mplayer off of the USB drive for the media off of it. If there was a media player where I could avoid the hassle of installing the codecs for the media that would be great!

I also found that winamp runs as a good media player to port around on machines as well. Some small ftp programs like ftp explorer work without needing installation, and i always keep a cd cracked version of some of my older games (such as quake 3 and pre-steam half life1) on my USB drive as well.

(pocket sized 40 gig USB).

Re:HUGE question about media (1)

Dragon Rojo (843344) | about 9 years ago | (#12005209)

That would be great, just imagine yourself carrying 40gb of Pr0n and be able to watch it on any computer without leaving trace. Back in my days you had a magazine hidden under the couch or the bed.

Re:HUGE question about media (1)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | about 9 years ago | (#12005273)

Though your reply seems to be bait of some kind, instead of "Pron" put "COol media you want to show off" and you are getting closer to the target.

For me it was when I was trying to show a friend videos of the Tsunami disaster that were circulating and he did not have the codecs for it. I also have had times where I have found an interesting movie such as _Grau *use google, that I wanted to show friends of mine and I was unable to because I did not have quicktime alternative codec on hand at the moment.

I have also come to points where I have wanted to show people some music videos done to genre specific art forms (such as _grau) and not had the proper codec.

So, having a standalone media player with codecs that are media player centric would be absolutely spectacular.

Re:HUGE question about media (1)

slapout (93640) | about 9 years ago | (#12005448)

Might not be exactly what you're looking for, but try here: http://movix.sourceforge.net/

Bookmarks (1)

stinkyfingers (588428) | about 9 years ago | (#12005112)

Why not use this: http://cgi29.plala.or.jp/mozzarel/ which I found on the Firefox extensions page? It will store your bookmarks on the Web so they can follow you everywhere.

Re:Bookmarks (1)

the unbeliever (201915) | about 9 years ago | (#12005199)

because it hasn't been updated in some time, and rarely, if ever, works with FF 1.0, at least in my experience. It has no support for passive ftp transfer, so unless you have a reliable webdav server, you're SOL.

More like Ultra-Transportable ... (1)

foobsr (693224) | about 9 years ago | (#12005140)

... or did the connotation of portable software change without notice ??

CC.

Ultraportable Email (4, Funny)

stinkyfingers (588428) | about 9 years ago | (#12005144)

http://gmail.com

Don't even say you can't get an invite.

Re:Bah (1)

Bastian (66383) | about 9 years ago | (#12005562)

Certainly not portable to the slow-ass dial-up connections I frequently get from hotel rooms when I'm on the road. (I don't consider waiting for five to ten seconds every time I want to do anything with a piece of e-mail to be acceptable.)

Gimme an ssh connection and a copy of PINE any day.

Firefox is useless from a USB drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005157)


from the portable firefox page
File / Directories Created - A directory (%userprofile%\Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox) is created on the
local machine (if Firefox is not installed locally) and a pluginreg.dat file is created within it. A Talkback directory
is also created. (this is a limitation of Firefox, see Bug 272983 [mozilla.org])


well that sort of negates the whole point really, apps should be self contained, not touch the registry or create anything on the hard drive
lets hope the FF dev team will fix that bug because while it exists it ruins the whole idea of USB apps

win developers please dont use the registry, just use an .ini file and keep everything in a folder, iam sick of seeing spurious remnants of applications littered all around my windows/system32 and windows directories and other locations like %APPDATA% and X:\program files/common files/

just keep it in a single folder like Mac's try to do (although macs often suffer the same thing but in the preferences directory

rational for shuffle purchase (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005162)

yep, the shuffle gitz you a music player and a chunk of portable NVRAM. BTW, has anyone replaced a failed shuffle battery yet? this was my motorvation for swapping sawbux for that leetle beet O buttoned plastic. i can listen to lord flea and his calypsonians on the way to work and circumvent the firewall to look at porn and co,,ect music all day by booting knoppix off the shuffle.

back to the shuffle battery. this is serius folkz. thoze Li(pick ur ion) batz have a limited # o charge cycles and who's gonna want to trash their snuffle for want of batz?

Portable Firefox (1)

ilyanep (823855) | about 9 years ago | (#12005163)

Thanks, Slashdot, that's a nice bookmark. I'm installing that on my USB drive so I don't have to use IE (piece o' crap)

Another great site (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005187)

http://www.usbapps.com is a great site for apps you can run on a USB Drive

Re:Another great site (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005315)

Yea, I go there all the time. Its excellent

Re:Another great site (usbapps.com) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005339)

Agreed. That's been around for a while and has some great FAQs for people getting started with thumbdrives

Re:Another great site (usbapps.com) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005477)

Check. I have been able to pickup some helpful info/apps from this site as well.

How big are these apps? (4, Insightful)

billstewart (78916) | about 9 years ago | (#12005193)

Some of these apps fit on a small USB (e.g. 64MB.) But if you want to start doing more than one or two of them, or want bigger apps like some of the Linux flavors, it's really helpful to know how big they are. For some things, like Email, the big problem isn't really the code, it's the data (e.g. you might have a 4MB program install but 100MB of email.)

Re:How big are these apps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005275)

what you want to do is keep all your stuff on a net accessible machine and just use the thumb thingy to tote the warez you need to load the stuff you want to run from your remote box, if you really are not satisfied with just running remotely anyway. Hell, the network is good for more than proing and boing. Use the force of remote control to your benifit.
sheesh.

flash is cheap (4, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 9 years ago | (#12005352)

Some of these apps fit on a small USB (e.g. 64MB.) But if you want to start doing more than one or two of them, or want bigger apps like some of the Linux flavors, it's really helpful to know how big they are.

With USB thumb drives costing about or less than $50 for 512MB, I'd have to say that space isn't much of an issue at all. I've seen 1GB flash drives for under $70 (though $90-100 is somewhat more common).

What is more of an issue to me is that the application not go bonkers with write cycles being somewhat precious with flash memory. It would be nice if the various linux filesystem drivers could have a mount option that spread out writes (since fragmentation isn't much of an issue on a media with essentially no seek time).

Thest are great... except - the only problem is... (2, Informative)

guyfromindia (812078) | about 9 years ago | (#12005224)

People dont trust me when I request them to plug my USB key into their computer, to browse the web. For e.g., I was in a Realtor's office the other day, and wanted to print out my bank statement (e-statement). I didnt want to browse using their browser, so, I requested them to accomodate my USB key, so that I can use my secure FireFox to do it. She wouldnt let me use it for 'security' reasons!

Re:Thest are great... except - the only problem is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005281)

I wouldn't let you plug it in on my network either. I sure wouldn't let some hacker run some random software on my network. Sure, it may look like firefox. God only knows what trojan is on it.

Re:Thest are great... except - the only problem is (5, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | about 9 years ago | (#12005317)

"She wouldnt let me use it for 'security' reasons!"

She did the right thing, good for her.

She'd be a real moron if she let anybody come in, attach a rewritable drive to her business computer, run executables from it, then let you have your drive back.

You should be happy she made that choice.

already do this (1)

GweeDo (127172) | about 9 years ago | (#12005247)

I already run PortableFirefox on my iPod Shuffle. Talk about getting some wierd looks. "Yes, let me show you that page on my web browser on my iPod".

Now, what I really want is a "repair keychain". Thing of something like Portable Firefox but that lets me run AVG's system scan, some spyware clean up apps and crap like that.

Re:already do this (1)

the unbeliever (201915) | about 9 years ago | (#12005336)

Easy enough to configure yourself, at least for anti-spyware apps. For virus scanning, I tend to use housecall.trendmicro.com

Main Problem (1)

Queer Boy (451309) | about 9 years ago | (#12005259)

The main problem as I see it is that the places you would want your personal stuff most (work, kiosks, Kinkos) you cannot access a thumb drive. :-(

Portable Firefox (4, Interesting)

AbRASiON (589899) | about 9 years ago | (#12005268)

Hooray I can be on topic for a change....

As a portable firefox user, I've got to say I'm generally quite happy with the package.
It seems a little quirky I must admit like this problem.

Although this seems illogical, I've found installing some extensions don't work the first or second time, even though the instructions outline doing it "twice" should do it - it seems to not like the "delay" of working with a USB disk.

Now the solution I've found is to copy portable firefox to the local disk, which is obviously quicker and then set it up exactly how you like it (be sure to edit the portable firefox.ini file to set the path) - once you've set it up how you like it, copy it back to the usb drive.

Also the bookmark code within ffox does a lot of read / writes when doing ANYTHING with them - so it's tremendously slow, again I'd recommend doing it all on a local disk then copying back when it's finally setup how you like it.

It also doesn't remember cookies (obviously)
However for the love of god I'd like to be able to say setup cookies just for a couple of sites :( - it does remember passwords but some sites remember a heck of a lot of stuff with the cookies - if I could just make it remmeber cookies for say my top 30 sites I hit, it would be so much handier.

Re:Portable Firefox (1)

AbRASiON (589899) | about 9 years ago | (#12005455)

Actually it sounds like I should RTFWP (web page) - seems I can adjust the cookie setting

awesome.

Bookmarks Synchronizer (4, Informative)

fafaforza (248976) | about 9 years ago | (#12005285)

My personal favorite is the FireFox in a box...every where I went, I had a different crop of bookmarks, now my browsing is the same wherever I go.

I prefer Bookmarks Synchronizer. Upload your bookmarks to an ftp server when closing FireFox if bookmarks changed. Download them when starting it back up and the cpies differ. All automatically.

Security (2, Informative)

Grey_14 (570901) | about 9 years ago | (#12005286)

Where I work, they started to disable the USB ports on the computer's, We can still bypass them, but it points out on of the key problems of firefox, It's hard to make it follow a local security policy, my place of employ, uses a local proxy on the machines, to avoid exess traffic which would just be blocked anyway's, because it's used to lock down internet use, (Uses a whitelist of allowable sites), problem is, (Well, to the admins it's a problem that caused them to ban firefox, which makes it a problem for us), Firefox just ignores the local internet connection settings, which say, "Use this proxy", and as far as I know, even if it was installed on the computer's, there's no way to set that, and make it secure.

Re:Security (1)

Suddenly_Dead (656421) | about 9 years ago | (#12005568)

My high school seems to block all web traffic that doesn't go through their firewalled/censored/adblocked proxy. If you want to use Firefox (or in a couple of crazy kid's cases, laptops), you have to set it up to use the proxy. It looks pretty possible to me.

Easy enough to get Firefox working with it though, one just clicks the "import settings" thing in the browser and off you go.

Sketchbook Pro (shameless plug) (1)

ameline (771895) | about 9 years ago | (#12005292)

The size of the install for Alias Sketchbook 1.1.1 is 11.1 Meg. And you could easily trim 2.1 Meg off that by deleting the Japanese help and Japanese resource dll. And it has some pretty lightweight minimum hardware requirements -- 400 Mhz P2 with 256 Meg of Ram and a 1024x768 24 bit color display, but you'll want a wacom tablet of some form plugged in. So it should be pretty portable...

Re:Sketchbook Pro (shameless plug) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 years ago | (#12005400)

does it touch the registry ? because if it does it kinda ruins the idea of keeping everything on the USB drive, nice product though

Bookmarks (1)

clinko (232501) | about 9 years ago | (#12005310)

I wrote a site [protista.com] to hold bookmarks, my My.yahoo mail, Hotmail, notes, and webcam shots of the cities I lived in.

After a few years of coding, 2 servers, a t1 line, and a few thousand dollars I switched to a flat html page on a buddies server.

long story short, don't carry thumbcards etc...; K.I.S.S., Keep it simple stupid.

Create a .rss file (1)

sporty (27564) | about 9 years ago | (#12005335)

For bookmarks, just create .rss feeds. Put them on a webserver. Use firefox's livebookmarks to track them. For passwords and such, I can't help you there :) But it's a quick, easy solution to make life easy.

The hard part (1)

Qwavel (733416) | about 9 years ago | (#12005357)

The hard part isn't bookmarks or email - there are mechanisms to mirror/sync/port these.

It's stuff like extensions (firefox) or blobs & newsgroups (tbird).

Shouldn't this be how all software is designed? (5, Insightful)

Combuchan (123208) | about 9 years ago | (#12005358)

So I guess by "ultra-portable" they mean software that installs files in one place, doesn't touch the registry, and is easily 100% removable without bits o' crap left over behind?

Isn't this how all software should be released?

Ahhh the good old days (1)

Grey (14278) | about 9 years ago | (#12005366)

Of haulling around floppy disks with all your data and apps on them. I always though that this SUCKED because you had to make copies and the disk only lasted about 1.5 semesters. Am I the only one with these not so fond memories? This seriously sounds like going back to the 80s to me.

The best solution I have heard of is using CVS to back up your preferences to an offsite local, but this requires that:

  • you are not using the operating system of the damed
  • know how to script stuff with cvs
  • Have an offsite cvs server you can get too.
That is to say I have to really tried it yet.

Container Encryption ??? (1)

un1xl0ser (575642) | about 9 years ago | (#12005398)

I normally use whatever flavor of loopback encryption is supported in the kernel that I am running. This can be a problem, if that style or mechanism changes between kernels (from what I have read and heard, it has).

Bestcrypt works, but fails to compile on newer FC3 kernels, and I've heard of some stability issues from friends/co-workers.

So my question is, what can be used for a cross platform encryption container? Is there anything that can be use on Linux/Mac OS/*BSD and Windows? Is there some miracle project that I am missing?

missing option (1)

SpongeBobLinuxPants (840979) | about 9 years ago | (#12005426)

The list seems short. Of the top of my head, I can think of Feather Linux, Puppy Linux (mentioned), and Damn Small Linux. Those can boot off of the USB thumb drive, now I carry my whole OS with me, not just a browser.

USB Drive Encryption (1)

LS (57954) | about 9 years ago | (#12005427)

Does anyone know of a utility to encrypt the entire USB key drive, except for a loader of some sort, so that it requires a password to get access to the data on the drive? Or is this a pretty standard capability for these things?

LS

that's the way it used to work (3, Insightful)

idlake (850372) | about 9 years ago | (#12005428)

That's the way it used to work with many personal computers before people started creating "installers" that would mess with your system.

With modern PCs, you have to think seriously about whether this is a good idea, though. Unless you actually boot from the thumb drive, you risk exposing your data to viruses and spyware.

Finally (1)

slapout (93640) | about 9 years ago | (#12005463)

I've been looking for a list like this for a while. Google searches got me no where. (Except to websites of companies that sell both thumb drives and software)

Portable Python (1)

slapout (93640) | about 9 years ago | (#12005494)

I don't think the article mentions it, but there's also a portable version of python for windows out there. Sorry don't have the url handy. Google for "movable python".

Don't forget (1)

Red_Icculus (866366) | about 9 years ago | (#12005500)

AdvanceCD arcade (with bootable USB) http://advancemame.sourceforge.net/cd-readme.html Movix for bootable media http://movix.sourceforge.net/ and Puppy Linux http://www.goosee.com/puppy/flash-puppy.htm

WSJ Article (1)

phalse phace (454635) | about 9 years ago | (#12005517)

If you need to know whether a new technology is here to stay, go no further than your local cinema. For all its glitz and glamour, Hollywood is a pretty conservative place, so if you see some gadget onscreen it's likely that it already has taken root elsewhere. Take, for example, that well-explored plot device, the Diskette With All the Bad Guy's Secrets on It. In many thrillers, the villain keeps one in a drawer, or chases the good guy to get hold of one, or was unwittingly using one as a coaster. (No one seemed to have thought of making a copy, and everyone seems to have access to a computer that can instantaneously read the disk, irrespective of format or whether it had been dunked in water, blood and acid.)

But in the past few years I've noticed a shift. Hollywood's plot-device data has moved from diskette to small sticks called, variously, key drives, thumb drives or USB drives. These devices, like diskettes, store data, but they do it on a small rewritable memory chip, called flash. In the 2003 thriller, "The Recruit," starring Al Pacino and Colin Farrell, for example, one character smuggles data out of the CIA on a USB drive. More recently in "Collateral," Tom Cruise jabs one into the taxi cab's guidance display to find out who else he has to rub out after his tablet personal computer containing his hit list is crushed under a truck. It's official: Key drives have arrived.

That's a good thing because they've actually been around a while. At least one company, Singapore's Trek 2000 International Ltd., has been making them for five years. Indeed, they're easier to find nowadays than the floppy disks they have pretty much replaced (I tried to buy a floppy in several computer stores recently and was laughed out of each shop). They come in all shapes and sizes, from small-capacity freebies given away at expos to sticks no bigger than your little finger that can hold up to four gigabytes of data (that's about 3,000 floppies' worth). Some double as MP3 players, others as Wi-Fi hubs. Some can also take photographs; some are shaped like rubber duckies. And, crucially, prices have fallen as capacities have risen. Five years ago you would have paid nearly $2 per megabyte of storage. Nowadays it's about 10 cents. Expect it to drop further this year.

Pocket Rockets

These drives are versatile too: Plug them into a Mac, a computer running Microsoft Windows XP or even a Linux machine and they're ready to go. Use them to keep backup copies of valuable files, move stuff between one computer and another, or store favorite music files or photos.

But why stop there? Key drives are fast (well, faster than a floppy drive). They're reliable. And most important, the key drive is the first bit of cheap(ish) hardware we can actually put in our pocket while leaving room for other stuff, like handkerchiefs, real keys and coins. People are beginning to figure out that instead of just storing files on them, why not whole programs? As long as there is a computer within reach, you use your own e-mail program, your own browser, even your own word-processing program, along with all your customized settings and files. Think of it as PC Piggybacking for the Peripatetic.

That isn't all. Programs that run from the key drive needn't leave any footprints on the host computer, so when you leave the building, your data goes with you. This is especially useful for public computers at Internet cafes, in libraries, at work or at your Mom's house.

In fact, all this isn't that new an idea. Some programs designed specifically to run off a key drive have been around for a while: E-mail program PocoMail PE, from Poco Systems Inc. (www.pocosystems.com), is now into version number three and works like a dream. Adventurous people have developed versions of the popular open source browser Firefox, its sister e-mail program Thunderbird, as well as whole operating systems, to run off key drives (for an attempt at a full list, see my blog loosewireblog.com).

Iomega Inc. has been peddling its own Active Disk technology, which allows users to run dozens of compatible programs from one of its external disks (including their very cute Micro Mini drives, which look like a well-groomed thumbnail.) Iomega says more than 10,000 Active Disk-compatible programs are being downloaded every month. Active Disk, however, is a proprietary technology, which means that while the programs that use it will run on Iomega disks, they won't run on other brands.

Work in Progress

This is partly why late last year two companies, M-Systems Flash Disk Pioneers Ltd. and SanDisk Corp., joined together to promote what they hope will be an industry standard, called U3, to make it easier to develop applications that run on all USB key drives. "We think we're taking it to the next level," says Nathan Gold, director of the U3 Developer Forum. So far several companies have signed up, including the instant messaging pioneer, ICQ Inc. This could be the start of something.

Downsides? Well, a lot of system administrators won't be delighted to have people plugging their drives into the corporate network. (While it's possible to block key drives from office computers, it isn't that easy at the moment, although Microsoft Corp. plans to change that in future versions of Windows.) And while most computers nowadays come with USB ports, they aren't always accessible, especially if the computer itself is locked up in a cupboard.

I've had a few USB key drives die on me, so don't believe anyone who says these things are indestructible and last forever. And finally, if the computer you're using is infected with a virus, assume the stuff on your USB drive will become infected too.

I'm not suggesting that this is the future of computing, although it might be. I do like the idea of free, connected computers all over the place waiting for us to plug in our own customized USB drives. But even if that doesn't happen, a key drive containing all your favorite programs and data is a great back up for when your laptop runs out of juice, you can't find a Wi-Fi connection, or you're away from your own computer and no one else seems to have installed the mind-mapping program you need. It's a great comfort to know you, just like Tom Cruise, have one more option in your pocket.

Loose Connections

Taking a Test Drive

If you haven't already got a key drive, I suggest having a go. So long as you are running Windows XP, or have a Mac, the drive will set itself up automatically. (Older versions of Windows need drivers, which usually come packaged with the key drive. And if your computer is more than five years old, it might not have a USB socket at all, in which case none of this is very helpful.) Many key drives also come with software preinstalled, so if you're just interested in backing up or moving important files, this isn't as fiddly as it used to be. Check out the SanDisk range of Cruzer Mini drives (www.sandisk.com), for example, which have some good trial software built in. If you're feeling more adventurous, I'd suggest installing a few basic programs. One good place to start is Portable Firefox (http://tinyurl.com/3uyj3), a version of the excellent (and free) Firefox browser. If you want to push the boundaries, download a copy of the free OpenOffice suite (www.openoffice.org) that, with a bit of tweaking, will run from a key drive. For the more cautious, buy an Iomega Mini or Micro Mini drive and check out the Active Disk programs that will run smoothly from it (www.iomega-activedisk.com). Good luck, and let me know how you get on.

until Cyber Cafes give you access to the USB ports (1)

fetta (141344) | about 9 years ago | (#12005574)

This would be great for traveling, except that most of the cyber cafes in Europe don't allow you to use their USB ports.

My set: (2, Interesting)

PAPPP (546666) | about 9 years ago | (#12005593)

I very heavily use my thumb drive on school/library pubic systems, and have an allmost entirely different set of programs i use:
For AIM:
TerrAIM [sourceforge.net] ,sure its ugly, but it works a lot better than miranda
For IRC:
Dana [diebestenbits.de] I acutally use this little IRC client whenever im in windows, even on my own machines. very light and fast.
For Remote:
Both RealVNC [realvnc.com] and PuTTY [greenend.org.uk]
My favorive text editor:
Notepad++ [sourceforge.net]
And a number of tools from DS Software [ozemail.com.au] Notably TaskKill.
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