Ever want to run an entire Linux install as a Windows application? With free application Portable Ubuntu you can -- and you can have it tag along with you on a flash drive.
Portable Ubuntu lets you seamlessly run Linux apps on your Windows desktop as a stand-alone package that runs a popular version of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution. The package can edit Windows folders and files and it's persistent -- meaning anything you install to it stays with you.
The latest Portable Ubuntu package is about 438MB. Simply double-click to unpack to a folder and do the following, according to Lifehacker's Kevin Purdy:
On Vista or Windows 7, open the command prompt as an administrator (Windows key, type in "cmd" (sans quote marks), then right-click on the "Command Prompt" option that appears and select "Run as Administrator"). On Windows XP, launch command prompt, navigate to the folder where you extracted Portable Ubuntu, and enter "run_portable_ubuntu" and hit Enter to launch the .bat script.
It will take awhile, and Purdy says you'll probably get a few prompts to "Unblock" coLinux and a few other apps' abilities on your system (do so).
Once the small, draggable menu bar (as seen in the above pic) shows up on your desktop, you're good to go.
Within the Applications, Places, and System menus is nearly everything a Linux user has at their disposal.
Note before you install: The default root password is 123456.