The steps to determine if a program is portable?

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Sliver
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The steps to determine if a program is portable?

#1 Post by Sliver » Mon Feb 06, 2006 1:31 pm

Greetings all,

I was just curious how one can confirm on their own if a program is portable or not?

What tools can be used and where can they be found? I don't want to waste anyone's time looking into an app that I am not certain is portable.

Thanks,
~Sliver

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puckchaser
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#2 Post by puckchaser » Mon Feb 06, 2006 1:35 pm

The main FAQ has some info...

http://www.portablefreeware.com/faq.php
I typically extract the program and run it with RegMon and FileMon to find out where they are writing their settings to. I also run the EXE against Dependency Walker to see whether it uses any particular runtime (eg. VB, .Net, Java) or special DLLs. Finally, when I have time, I will run the program again on a clean install of Windows XP running in VirtualPC to make sure it really works.
Thats is how Andrew checks.. I've done this as well.

PC

Sliver
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#3 Post by Sliver » Mon Feb 06, 2006 3:43 pm

D'OH :oops:

Darkbee
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#4 Post by Darkbee » Mon Feb 06, 2006 6:32 pm

I have to say that I consider myself an advanced user and it isn't always easy using the suggested monitoring software. Unless you really know what you are doing, it isn't always immediately obvious that a program is portable or not.

I have found that a good indicator is to simply try it first, on several different computers. It should be immediately obvious whether the application is portable simply by whether you have to keep reconfiguring it on each machine. Also look for ini, xml, dat or some other file created upon first running the application.

If this indicator doesn't appear to be so conclusive then perhaps it's time to bring in the big guns as suggested by puckchaser.

Spiceskull
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Is it portable

#5 Post by Spiceskull » Wed Feb 08, 2006 4:38 am

I agree with Darkbee - try it and see. Over the years there have been many portable applications featured on the coverdisc of many magazines (PC Utilities springs to mind). Indeed, some issues have been devoted entirely to non-install software, which by definition I assume to be portable...(and freeeeeee!)

I have enough of these apps to fill 2 CDs, and using a program such as MenuFacturer for an index, have been able to run them all from the CD, on any machine the disc was in.

I won't do it today (or probably in the next week or two) but if it helps I will make a list, grouped by app type, and will email it to interested parties. Alternatively, if it's okay with the moderators I will post it to this site...

Great site by the way, and clearly only visited by Firefox users for now...

Regards,
Adam.

Darkbee wrote:I have to say that I consider myself an advanced user and it isn't always easy using the suggested monitoring software. Unless you really know what you are doing, it isn't always immediately obvious that a program is portable or not.

I have found that a good indicator is to simply try it first, on several different computers. It should be immediately obvious whether the application is portable simply by whether you have to keep reconfiguring it on each machine. Also look for ini, xml, dat or some other file created upon first running the application.

If this indicator doesn't appear to be so conclusive then perhaps it's time to bring in the big guns as suggested by puckchaser.

DigeratiPrime
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#6 Post by DigeratiPrime » Mon Feb 13, 2006 9:30 pm

another great tool is Sandboxie (freeware)
http://www.sandboxie.com/

i use it to install programs inside the sandbox, you can then see where the files are copied. you can also dump the registry keys the program adds using regdump.exe, though i havent figured that part out yet. you can also sandbox the process.

also if the program adds dlls etc to windows and system folders try moving them to the appdata folder instead.

another tool i use is the Universal Extractor. this extracts the files from most setup files. Some program will work directly unpacked.
http://www.legroom.net/modules.php?op=m ... uniextract

also if you want to download a large collection (512mb) of portable free apps check out WinInizio PenSuite
http://www.download.com/WinInizio-PenSu ... ag=lst-0-2

stumpii
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#7 Post by stumpii » Tue Feb 14, 2006 6:13 am

DigeratiPrime wrote:another great tool is Sandboxie (freeware)
http://www.sandboxie.com/

i use it to install programs inside the sandbox, you can then see where the files are copied. you can also dump the registry keys the program adds using regdump.exe, though i havent figured that part out yet. you can also sandbox the process.

also if the program adds dlls etc to windows and system folders try moving them to the appdata folder instead.

another tool i use is the Universal Extractor. this extracts the files from most setup files. Some program will work directly unpacked.
http://www.legroom.net/modules.php?op=m ... uniextract

also if you want to download a large collection (512mb) of portable free apps check out WinInizio PenSuite
http://www.download.com/WinInizio-PenSu ... ag=lst-0-2
Cool stuff!

I have taken a little look at Sandboxie and you can use the Regdump.exe to export the registry files. Regdump is in the sandboxie installation folder. Needs to be run from the command line with the filename and path of the .dat file in the sandboxed files folder. It appears that if you run regedit from within Sandboxie that it will show the changed registry entries. As running regedit produces a whole bunch of registry changes itself, I think that the procedure would be to run regedit before installing the portable app, export the registry, then run the portable app, then re-run regedit and export. Comparing the two regedit exports will show and changed registry entries between the two.

I will try later, but it should work.

Toxteth O'Grady
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#8 Post by Toxteth O'Grady » Wed Feb 15, 2006 12:09 am

I always use this program. Very easy to use and it seems to be reliable.

http://freeware4u.com/modules/mydownloa ... hp?lid=234

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Andrew Lee
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#9 Post by Andrew Lee » Thu Feb 16, 2006 5:01 am

I mostly use RegShot these days, instead of FileMon and RegMon.

DigeratiPrime
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#10 Post by DigeratiPrime » Thu Mar 02, 2006 11:29 pm

http://sandboxie.com/phpbb/viewtopic.ph ... d9aa2999a8

Code: Select all

RegDump path/to/registry.dat > MyOutFile.txt

Andre
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#11 Post by Andre » Mon May 08, 2006 5:12 pm

For anyone experimenting with Universal Extractor (same link as above), it's just been updated to v 121, with preliminary support for NSIS installers. Very handy to have in your reg monitoring / diagnosis toolbox. Thanks to DigeratiPrime for the link!

Andre

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gp_hbk
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#12 Post by gp_hbk » Sun Jun 18, 2006 1:41 pm

You can try Filemon, Regmon and Dependancy Walker as suggested above. But for that you need to know the process name to filter the monitoring. If the application runs more than one program,you might miss it.
If you don't want do that, you can try What Changed.
Search for "What Changed" in the database.
Take a snapshot of the Files on your system and the Registry before installing and running the program (long process).
After your done messing about a bit with the program's settings exit the program.
Compare the states of the Files and Registry (long process). It won't tell you exactly what changed when done. It'll only give you a report of how many things changed.
Look for text files in the folder in which you put What Changed. The last file there will tell you what changed. If any other program was running, you'll also find those changed entries in the text file.So, it's up to you to judge which of those entries concern the program you're testing.

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