RT Cunningham

Portable Applications on Windows and Linux Computers

There are a couple of ways to run portable applications on your computer. Whatever way you do it, you need an external USB drive. It doesn’t matter if it’s a flash drive or a solid-state drive, as long as you can boot up with it.

Some portable application interfaces designed for Windows will run on Linux, but not many and not from a USB drive. That’s because it has to run from within the Wine compatibility layer. I’ve found it quite difficult to get Windows programs under Wine to recognize any USB drives at all.

Portable Applications at PortableApps.com

Back when I ran Windows exclusively, I used the PortableApps platform with multiple low-capacity USB flash drives. I used them for Windows programs I didn’t want to install on my computer.

It’s still a good idea if you’re running Windows. Every program installed on Windows itself adds to the registry bloat, slowly slowing everything down. Even so, I think there’s a better way.

Portable Applications with a Linux Live USB Drive

Whether you’re running Windows, Linux or even macOS, you can run a Linux live USB version of any Linux distribution. You just need to boot up with a USB drive instead of the default drive. It doesn’t matter if it’s a flash drive or a solid-state drive as long as you can make it bootable.

I haven’t had much luck outside of the Ubuntu family of distributions. Most of programs designed to create bootable USB drives don’t seem to work right. I’ve personally tested and used Ubuntu, Ubuntu MATE and Linux Mint (both Cinnamon and MATE editions).

I’ve used the Universal USB Installer and Rufus on Windows and I’ve used UNetbootin on Linux. They don’t always work and all I can say is good luck. Sometimes the USB drive has to be formatted before the programs will work correctly. I can’t tell you why.

Portable Linux instead of Windows

My wife and I will soon be heading to the United States to visit with our children (for as long as we can get away with it). I’m going to be buying at least one laptop computer while I’m there.

I don’t like Windows and I dread using a laptop computer with Windows installed. Unfortunately, that’s what 98 percent of all the laptop computers being sold in the United States have preloaded on them. I’ve checked. Computers with Linux preloaded are more expensive, even with the same hardware.

I’m in the process now of creating multiple bootable USB drives to take with me. I’m going to avoid Windows for as long as I possibly can. “Portable” is definitely the way to go.

April 26, 2018

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