Friday 24 February 2012

Portable Apps

This week at my customer, I got my laptop replaced. Where I had a laptop with Windows XP and was Local Admin on it, I now have a Windows 7 with a standard user account. For my development work I have a remote pc in a closet (a closet-PC or "Ophok PC").

The most annoying thing is that I can't install my favorite browser Firefox.  But I also want to use XMind mindmapping program and several other tools. For instance, Total Commander is becoming more and more my personal desktop. It's the first thing to start and from there I have buttons to start other apps.

Now I remembered that there are several initiatives to have a collection of apps on a USB stick. For Firefox, and XMind there are portable versions. And also Totalcommander is runnable from a USB stick.

So I got me a spare 8GB USB stick (or at least I made it "spare" for this purpose) and I searched and got into "Portable Apps". This initiative makes it really easy to get a stick with your favorite apps, where it gives a Start menu and a place to browse and work with your documents on a stick. It has an "exit" button to savely remove your stick from the machine.

After you install it on your stick, you can start it with the start.exe file.
Then you get this nice looking start menu:
With the link below, "All Portable Apps", you can switch to a categorized display of your apps. With the Apps menu option you get the possibility to install extra apps:
With Get More Apps  it goes checking it's online repository and from there you can install apps just by checking them and press "Next".

Create an XMind installer
If you want to add your own apps, check the  Apps Installer:

With this App you can create your own installer.

For Xmind it is pretty easy. Download the Portable version. Unzip the common and the XMind_windows to a temp dir:

Then you can move the contents of the XMind_Windows folder to the upper folder besides the Commons folder. You have to edit the xmind.ini file to replace all occurences of  "../Commons"  with "./Commons".
Then you can direct the PortableApps installer to that folder, and follow the instructions. However, it will fail running the first time.
But it creates several folders, amongst others:

With a tool like Irfanview it is easy to replace these icon-files with a resized version of the picture that can be found if you search on xmind pictures in google. ( and click on images). Then it will complain for a help.html. You can copy that from an other portable app, like the one of Kompozer/NVU. With Kompozer/NVU you can edit the html file easily. After these changes the PortableApps installer will work, and creates a nice XMind installer.
Here you see that I managed to install it in Portable Apps with even a correct Icon:

Total Commander
For TotalCommander, you simply install the TotalCommander Launcher. Then running it for the first time, it will complain that it hasn't got a correct TotalCommander installation. But it will suggest to copy the installed version to the stick. So just run it for the first time on a machine with a normal installation of TC.

So what does this have to do with Oracle? Almost nothing. But lots with being a consultant that has to do his "thing" on any machine of a customer, with his own favorite tools.

Have fun.