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agm:2011:portableapps

PortableApps

This is the version I produced for the 2011 AGM. There is a fuller version written for Oxfordshire FHS.

Your Computer on a memory stick

PortableApps is a menu and application launcher system that runs on/from a USB device. In fact it can be run from any drive, I have my netbook's hard drive partitioned and run PortableApps on my D: drive.

For today's AGM hands-on session you may wish to start your experiments using the H: drive on the lecture room computers - this will be faster than using a USB device :-)

Later you can either repeat the process or just copy everything from the H: drive onto your USB device and then try running it from there.

First things first

The home of PortableApps is http://portableapps.com

Within this I suggest you first browse the range of Apps available on http://portableapps.com/apps

Then look at the download page http://portableapps.com/download

Which Download?

I suggest you go for the beta release of version 2, as suggested on the download page. This download installs just the base menu system. If you wish, the v1.6.1 download page offers three packages - base, light and standard (= heavy!)

Fetch & Install

Download the beta v2 installer to the desktop (or if you are like me, to a folder 'PortableDownloads' on your memory stick).

Then run it, making sure to set the drive to either H: or your USB memory stick.

You should now have two folders on that drive:

Folder 'Documents'

This is your portable 'My Documents' folder, many Portable Apps (especially the office ones) will use this automatically.

Folder 'PortableApps'

This is your portable 'Program Files' folder … and more. Each packaged App will contain within its folder three sub-folders 'App', 'Data' and 'Other'. Portable Apps don't use the host computer's registry, they store all their settings in the 'Data' folder, so it's also the portable 'Applications & Settings' folder.

As well as the folders, you'll find a program 'Start.exe' (in v1.6 it is called 'StartPortableApps.exe') and an 'Autorun.inf' file. Autoruns are increasingly frowned upon, whereas the v1.6 autorun file runs 'StartPortableApps.exe', the v2 autorun file only provides the windows icon and label for the USB drive.

The menu system will pop up (by default in the bottom right of the screen) and will auto-hide after a short while. You can bring it up again by clicking on the PortableApps icon in the system notification area. You can also just run 'Start(PortableApps)' again if you wish!

Now for some Apps

You can download each installer from the Apps directory (you browsed that earlier) or you can bring up your newly installed but empty Portableapps menu and click on 'Manage Apps'.

Start gently! I suggest you start by just ticking two or three Apps - FireFox, 7-Zip and Xenon would be my suggestions.

Personally, I'd include NotePad++ as well but you may prefer another plain text editor.

Other Portable Apps to consider are Opera, LibreOffice and FoxitReader.

N.B. LibreOffice is the new replacement for OpenOffice. Because it's a large package, installation may take a while but do download it today while you are on a fast connection!

And then PediTree

Copy or move your Pedigree folder into the PorrtableApps folder. Open the file Peditree.ini and add these two lines at the end:

[Folder]
StartFolder=%cd%

When you next pop up the PortableApps menu you should find PediTree listed, click it and you should find that the Open menu defaults to your PortablePedigree folder!

N.B. It would do that anyway if there were no c:\pedigree folder to be found, but you will probably be testing this out on your home computer which does have a c:\pedigree :-)

And finally Pedigree

To start with, I suggest you add two Apps to your menu:

  • from the Utilities section
    • Command Prompt Portable
  • and from the games section
    • DOSbox Portable

On a Win32 host system there should be no real trouble running a DOS program. Indeed Pedigree will appear in the PortableApps menu and will run when clicked - although some work needs to be done to sort out the font size!

If you like a more traditional approach, run Command Prompt Portable an then type:

cd portableapps\pedigree
pedigree

On a 64 bit Windows 7 system that won't work but Colin's FAQ has the answer - DOSbox is available as a Portable App.

Before going further, check whether your pedigree folder includes the file dpmi16bi.ovl and if it is not there you should follow Colin's FAQ instructions for 64bit Win7 and install Ped26N. Even if it is there, you might want to check you have your version of Pedigree as up-to-date as possible!

If u: is the drive letter of your USB drive, run DOSbox and at the Z: prompt type:

mount v u:\portableapps\pedigree
v:
pedigree

At this point you may still have Pedigree in a very small window … something to work on!

agm/2011/portableapps.txt · Last modified: 2012/04/26 17:55 (external edit)