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 Post subject: Intro to PortableFreeware.com
PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2014 6:18 pm 
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Note that there is some overlap here with the FAQ and About pages. This is a work in progress.

What is "portable"?

Portable software is more than just being able to work on a USB "thumb" or "key" drive as when the project started. Increasingly, programs are saved to cloud services like Dropbox, moved on to desktops, and much more. What becomes important whatever the environment is to determine where settings are saved and if a program can work with other files irrespective of where it's stored.


Why portable freeware?

There are a long list of great reasons why portable software increases flexibility, speed, and utility. You can set up your software only once and take it with you everywhere, enabling a predictable experience that's easy to backup and restore. Portable software is often more secure and much faster to get up and running than multiple install sequences.

Every member of PortableFreeware.com can list a time when a listed program got around a restriction, helped them fix a friend's computer, or let them surf the web or send email more securely. Additionally, portable freeware users see fewer registry entries, which have a tendency to slow your computer down over time.

As the Windows desktop is most comfortable with portable software, this is primarily a Windows-focused site. There are several reasons for this:

  • Windows is far and away the dominant desktop platform and most often available in public areas
  • Many other platforms have taken an "App Store" approach with a single channel software delivery system; it's often more difficult to run local software
  • Windows has had relatively good backwards-compatibility across versions and isn't difficult to virtualize (unlike Mac/iOS)

Although we recognize the computing market is changing, to date we only occasionally list information about Android, Linux, and Mac/iOS.



Glossary:

A quick explanation of terms used here on the site:

Portable terms (unique to portable software)

  • PFW or PFWC - acronym for the site (Portable FreeWare Collection)

  • no-install - something that doesn't have an installation process, usually just a ZIP file with an executable file. This doesn't always mean the program is portable, but can be helpful when using a machine that has disabled software installation for security reasons.

  • path portability - describes how, if you move the program and it's associated files, it runs normally. Sometimes this applies to application files, sometimes to the files around it.

  • "..\" the way that Windows describes a folder beneath it. See relative pathways below.

  • relative pathways - use of files and folders not based on hard links, but depending on where the program is installed. For example a program looking for music files in:
    • c:\music would not support relative pathways
    • "..\music," or a computer reference to the folder below it, DOES support relative pathways

  • no settings - Doesn't save anything to the host machine. Each time you run the program, it always starts and runs the same. These programs are always considered portable.

  • self-destructing - program starts, does something, and then closes (like DesktopListView)

  • stealth - doesn't write to the registry or, if it does, deletes these entries on exit

  • registry green - doesn't write anything to the registry

  • UniExtract - short for Universal Extractor, a commonly used tool here on the site

  • InnoUnp - a part of Universal Extractor that requires manual updating (see the site FAQ)


Other common terms

  • 7z / RAR - similar to ZIP files, these are collections of files packed into one file. These formats are ideal because they are frequently much smaller than ZIP files, but cause confusion because not everyone knows how they work or how to open them. There are many ways to open these, but we generally recommend either PeaExtractor (super simple) or 7-zip.

  • AppData (short for 'Application Data') - one of several folders on your computer where applications frequently save info/settings. A program that saves settings to "appdata" isn't portable.

  • application folder - this is the folder where you save the portable program. So if you're running a program C:\portable\xyz.exe, the application folder would be C:\portable. If you were running xyz.exe directly from the "F" drive, your application folder would be F:\

  • trolltech - (also "qt") a toolset used by many programs that writes some non-critical, predictable items to the registry (more from Wikipedia)

  • registry - a place where Windows saves all kinds of information from settings, system data, keys, and much more. Portablefreeware prefers software that doesn't touch the registry, reverses any settings edits on exit, or only makes necessary changes (such as Windows tweaking programs).

    • HKEY - another term for registry entries
    • HKCU - stands for HKEY CURRENT USER - one subset of the registry hierarchy
    • HKLM - stands for HKEY LOCAL MACHINE - another subset of the registry hierarchy

  • Command line - a text-based user interface that doesn't require a mouse, not commonly highlighted here on the site


Common system requirements

  • Java - developed by Sun, a company later purchased by Oracle, a toolset that must be installed as a requirement for some programs. Some portable versions of this exist but additional configuration is sometimes necessary to enable portable usage.

  • .NET (a.k.a. dotNET) - similar to Java in many respects but developed by Microsoft, it is an additional installation in order to enable some programs. There is no portable version, so Portablefreeware generally leans away from dotNET programs.

----

Background: After a conversation a while back with someone trying to explain what I do on the site, I realized that this place isn't very accessible to new users. I wanted to address the fact that we have our own language/terminology in some areas that confuses new visitors. Note that the focus with this is short, accessible, and clear; I didn't want to overwhelm people with information but instead hopefully seed ideas and interest.

Edits and suggestions welcome.

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Last edited by webfork on Sun Jul 17, 2016 5:32 pm, edited 12 times in total.
(fixed various errors, InnoUnp, added DesktopListView, etc.)


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 Post subject: Re: Intro to portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 12:03 am 
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Great overview :!:

But there is a typo. It's not "InnoUp" ... it's "InnoUnp" :wink:

webfork wrote:
... InnoUp - a part of Universal Extractor that requires manual updating (see the site FAQ) ...

Has to be changed at the FAQ page as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Intro to portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 3:54 am 
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Thank you, webfork. :)

webfork wrote:
trolltech - a toolset used by many programs that writes some non-critical, predictable items to the registry (more from Wikipedia)


The toolkit some programs use is called Qt. Trolltech is the company that used to develop Qt. Then Nokia acquired Trolltech, and later sold Qt to Digia.

The reason why the Trolltech name is still around (HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Trolltech) is that Nokia and Digia aren't able to rename the registry key. If they renamed it, programs which upgrade to a new enough version of Qt wouldn't be able to find old data stored in the old key.

Checker wrote:
But there is a typo. It's not "InnoUp" ... it's "InnoUnp" :wink:


"InnoUnp" isn't correct either. It's innounp (all lowercase). ;)

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 Post subject: Re: Intro to portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:17 am 
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SYSTEM wrote:
... "InnoUnp" isn't correct either. It's innounp (all lowercase). ;) ...
100% correct :!:


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 Post subject: Re: Intro to portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 6:34 pm 
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Thanks SYSTEM and Checker. I actually made a bunch of errors so I'm running through now with an edit.

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 Post subject: Re: Intro to portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:30 am 
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IMHO, after due amendments (PFWC? More like TPFC... ;)) the present topic should be a 'sticky' in the "Development" forum.


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 Post subject: Re: Intro to portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:05 pm 
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Midas wrote:
IMHO, after due amendments (PFWC? More like TPFC... ;)) the present topic should be a 'sticky' in the "Development" forum.

Interesting idea. I was wondering what to do with it next.

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 Post subject: Re: Intro to portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:14 pm 
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FYI, here's an HowToGeek.com article that provides quick insight on the topic:

http://www.howtogeek.com/172701/why-you-cant-just-copy-a-programs-folder-to-a-new-windows-system-and-when-you-can/


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 Post subject: Re: Intro to portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:40 pm 
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Midas wrote:
FYI, here's an HowToGeek.com article

Good addition. If I'd seen this when I was first looking at portable software (coming from an install-only view) it would have really helped.

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 Post subject: Re: Intro to www.portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:43 am 
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Here's another interesting piece comparing portable and installable Windows software:



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 Post subject: Re: Intro to www.portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 11:58 am 
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Midas wrote:
Here's another interesting piece comparing portable and installable Windows software:<br sab="729"><br sab="730">


The person that wrote the article seems clueless as far as portable applications are concerned.

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 Post subject: Re: Intro to www.portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 1:24 pm 
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An opportunity for a right-minded article, then. I believe it is interesting because it reveals the 'layman' mindset about the matter...


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 Post subject: Re: Intro to www.portablefreeware.com
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2016 1:53 pm 
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Midas wrote:
I am Baas wrote:
The person that wrote the article seems clueless as far as portable applications are concerned.

An opportunity for a right-minded article, then. I believe it is interesting because it reveals the 'layman' mindset about the matter...

I think Baas is referring to these two points:

Quote:
A portable app will not remember you personal preferences and settings. These may include recent or frequently accessed files and directories among other things.

A portable file will not modify the Windows registry in any way.

I think the author has either a very narrow definition of portable or spoke to someone for the purposes of this article that was just unclear. I've written and been a source for tech articles before and this happens when you rely on only one source or don't send your article to the source before publish.

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Last edited by webfork on Sun Jan 03, 2016 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
[fixed some really bad wording]


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