Sure, you can assemble a number of individual applications and install them on a USB thumbdrive but Portable Apps Suite has done all the hard work for you. Unzip a single file and you're ready to roll. Well, OK. Technically, you'll want to do a bit of configuration to make sure you have everything set up to your satisfaction. But once you do, you can carry your entire computing environment with you and browse, read, upload and download files, and even get some office work done on any PC.
Anyone who's lugged a laptop around knows that even today's smaller and lighter units can start feeling pretty heavy by the end of the day. If you're like most people, you have access to a PC in an increasing number of places. Libraries have public PCs. So do net cafes and bookstores. Friends have them. Even mom and dad have a PC I can hop onto when I'm visiting.
Install Portable Apps Suite onto a 256 Mb USB thumbdrive and you'll have the following available any time you can plug into a PC:
- Portable Firefox (web browser)
- Portable Thunderbird (email client)
- Portable OpenOffice.org (office suite)
- Portable AbiWord (word processor)
- Portable NVU (web editor)
- Portable Sunbird (calendar & task list)
- Portable FileZilla (FTP client)
- Portable Gaim (instant messenger)
A Light version drops the OpenOffice piece and fits on a 128 Mb thumbdrive. Since most of the work I do is writing, this configuration works perfectly for me.
Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that there is a security issue raised when you're popping this thumbdrive in and out of public machines. The Portable Apps Suite site has a basic but sound set of security suggestions to minimize the risk of picking up and transporting viruses and other malware on your thumbdrive. Here's one I'll add to their list. Use a free online scanner like Trend Micro's Housecall to check your thumbdrive before you unplug.
An excellent addition to your USB thumbdrive configuration is a small free utility called PStart. It provides a launcher for the applications on your pocket drive and also deals with the complexity of your drive being assigned a different drive letter on different systems through the magic of relative links.