Portable Software

The NEW age of has begun.

Although they are not all that big and bad and new, portable applications are a huge hit among users of flash drives. PortableApps and others that create portable applications have dramatically changed the way we install programs and use them because we are able to go so far with a copy. On the team, it is sometimes hard to find a vacant computer and since certain computers have specific programs you are limited to the computers you can actually use. With a flash drive you can go to any computer without worrying about reinstalling a program or running out of licenses because only two people use a specific program.

Do you see portable apps rising where FIRST can really use them? What do you think about the power of flash drives and how far they will really go in the coming years? I just saw an ad for an 8 gig drive for $50, and back when I was learning computers my HARD DRIVE was 5 MB. (yes…I said 5 megabytes), so what does that say about the technology? Do you think that companies that make products like Inventor, 3dSM, MPLAB, EasyC, Solidworks, etc. will start making portable copies of their programs?

Only if they can find sure fire way to secure that program to the flash drive.

But I think that something like this could have so many uses. I think it would be really cool if the robot controller accepted sd cards, cause a team could have a huge program that takes no time to load into the robot because you just slip in a new card…

anyways, I could see them doing it, especially in schools and such but I wonder if they would for security reasons. But then… we can hope, can’t we?


During the school year I carry 8gb worth of storage with me (1gb flash drive, 2gb flash drive, and 5gb micro drive).
I run all sorts of programs off my flash drive (Opera, Ad-Aware, Spybot, Winamp, VLC, OpenOffice, etc.). They are very useful when there are public PCs available for use.
Their flaw is speed. USB 2.0 is not fast enough. I recently bought a USB external HD and was very disappointed with how slow it is compared to my firewire 800 drives.
Until a much faster interface becomes popular, I don’t think that you will see powerful programs like Inventor, Solidworks, 3dSMax, etc. be available for portable media.
Related but contradictory to my point, if you are interested in running any application from a portable device, check out Mojopac.

I definitely see a future for portable applications, but I have a few concerns about the technology that I think will hold it back. First, there is the issue of security. I agree with Alex.Norton that companies may be hesitant to make it easy for you to put their product on portable media when there’s the potential for a program similar to CloneCD, let’s call it CloneUSB, to come along and allow for ease in piracy. Second, there is the issue of consumer appeal, something that I mention here for completeness. While PortableApps is open source and therefore ‘tinker-around-able’, something I enjoy doing, some of the other options to this point (I’m pointing the finger at U3 software) have been, in my experience, intrusive.
So what is the future for PortableApps? I see it picking up many more freeware plugins, continuing the trend evidenced on its website. As for the large, closed-source CAD packages, I predict that they will eventually become PortableApps compatible, but may require a computer with web-access so the program could authenticate itself against some password or certificate database. While it would still be possible to pirate the software, since the barriers to do so are the same (registering the product during the installation), it would be just as difficult as now, and since the companies do make the product now, then it’s an acceptable level of risk to piracy that they are willing to endure.

Someone bought a Sandisk Flash Drive. lol :stuck_out_tongue:

U3 “bundled software” was the biggest pile of… well… you get the picture.

It installed ghost drives up the wahzoo, and was very very overly intrusive as you stated.

Thank goodness they finally released an uninstall program after so many people complained about it.

As far as running a program off a flash drive, I agree the speeds need to be increased. Why is there not a Firewire based flash drive yet?

USB 2.0 speeds actually rival Firewire speeds as of now, but I’m sure that will change as the technology of Firewire increases and USB is left in the dust.

I am by no means an expert in this field, but I can think of three plausible reasons:

a) Cost. I assume there’s a reason that everything uses USB these days, while FireWire is left more for higherish-end stuff.

b) Connectors. My iBook has a six-pin FireWire connection. The Dell laptop I owned freshman year had a four-pin connection. To get my 4G iPod (back when they supported FireWire connections) to connect to my Dell, I would’ve had to buy an adapter (and we all know what adapters cost: far, far, far too much). Folks don’t want to mess with that.

c) Penetration. Every computer shipped in the last decade or so has some kind of USB port on it. Relatively few, however, have FireWire ports of either flavor. All the portable drive speed in the world won’t help if you can’t get it to connect to the computer.

Amen. I got a U3 drive because it was 1g from super cheap but the software is just a pain in the butt. I run some stuff of of portable devices such as firefox for when i am on computers that dont have it and so that i always have my bookmarks. Mainly I just use my drive for moving small files and carrying some music.

I hear you on that. It only lasted to or three days before I uninstalled it and started using my now finally functional flash drive.

As for the USB v. firewire comments-While I’d like to think the product with the best performance would win out, I think the USB connections are so prevalent on all modern computers that USB-drives will be around and hold market dominance for external drives for some time.

I use portable Firefox frequently off my flash drive at school, and it’s quite convenient. Recently, I’ve been trying to set up a fully portable development environment (I occasionally get stuck at school with nothing to do…), and the one critical piece I’m missing is a portable SVN client. Does anyone know where you can get that?

Any Firewire drive worth its salt will leave even USB 2.0 in the dust.

As any of my experience with external hard drives, and moving vast amounts of files (video editing!), Firewire will always out-preform USB 2.0 devices. As such, I only purchase Firewire external hard drives, except for one portable 60G one I bought just for my laptop (which sadly doesn’t have a Firewire port).

Even if on paper the speeds of USB and Firewire are comparable, you can have proof of the increased performance of Firewire in that every Video Camera always uses a Firewire port for full definition video capturing, whereas USB 2.0 is usually only used for lower quality web streaming. (Capturing HD video is VERY bandwidth intensive, and you need a high capacity drive to be able to keep up with the incoming video.) I’ve never been able to capture HD video in real time onto an external USB 2.0 hard drive*, but I’ve never had any problems with capturing onto a Firewire hard drive.

  • One of my 320G external hard drives can be connected by either USB 2.0 or Firewire. So as a test when I first purchased it, I ran a test of seeing how long it took to transfer about 50G of captured digital video to the drive via USB 2.0, and then over Firewire. After the testing, I found that there was always a bottleneck with the USB 2.0 connection, where the hard drive would read/write the data faster than USB 2.0 could deliver it. Using the Firewire connection proved that the the Firewire port could deliver the data just as fast as the hard drive could write/read it, eliminating the bottleneck. That drive now stays connected only via Firewire.

In conclusion, for small files or non-bandwidth intensive applications, USB 2.0 works just fine, as it’s more common on computers. But trying to run a full-fledged intensive application such as Inventor or 3DSMax from a flash drive would most likely frequently encounter the data bottleneck with USB 2.0. (Although you CAN install regular versions of applications on Firewire external hard drives; all my games for my desktop are all installed on an external Firewire hard drive.)

EDIT: Elgin, on Apple computers, the Firewire 800 protocol can currently transfer data at up to 3.2 Gigabits/sec, whereas USB 2.0 is only 480 Megabits/sec, with Firewire certainly leaving USB in the dust!

Back in the IBM XT days, we deployed a few “systems”. We had a little trouble with one PC, and it ate a few hard drives. These were 10 Meg hard drives, at about $1,000. a pop. Turned out to be a bad fan that would stop when it warmed up, and the system unit would overheat and cook the drive. :ahh:

Boy, talk about coming full circle. Back in “the day” EVERY app was portable. They installed into their own directory and didn’t dump anything into common windows directories. Copying the program from computer to computer was as easy as copying the dirctory - and usually it all fit on one floppy disk. Deleting it was as easy as deleting the directory.

In fact, it was a “poorly” written Windows 3.1 app that dumepd anything into the windows directory. Somehow, between Windows 3.1 and Windows 95, it became the norm to spread out your installation, making keeping your computer clean nearly impossible.

yup, before hard drives were popular, every app could run from floppy disks, ie. they were all portable. Even the os.

I have some 80k SSSD floppies around here somewhere…I think that’s what they were rated?

you can install an operating system on portable drives like windows xp so therefore you can run these programs on a flash drive if you already own them. the technology is already here. This is just an example:


It has its benefits but there are downsides. You waste space on your drive by having to install an OS instead of just having executables which you would run on the public computer. The big issue is that the system has to boot to the USB drive which is not normally the first in the boot process to it woun’t work without you changing it and I doubt that the owners of the computer want you changing it.

I hear that you can make your own ISOs and use the update program to install them on the flash drive.

did you find a portable SVN client

rgds phild

I’ve been looking for a portable SVN client, too…

And google didn’t spit out anything on “portable svn”…

But there are JAVA based SVN clients out there (e.g. SmartSVN and Syncro SVN; commercial though) that should be able to run from a stick if you have a JRE either installed or on your stick, as well.

I’m gonna try to work the SmartSVN and maybe let you know how it went.

Take care,

der oli