PortableApps.com, February Edition - InformationWeek

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2/8/2008
11:11 AM
Serdar Yegulalp
Serdar Yegulalp
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PortableApps.com, February Edition

It's been a while since I checked in to see what's new in the free and open source world of PortableApps.com.  To my delight, I found quite a bit that's both new and updated -- and if you haven't checked in with the folks at PA before, you're likely to be delighted, too.

It's been a while since I checked in to see what's new in the free and open source world of PortableApps.com.  To my delight, I found quite a bit that's both new and updated -- and if you haven't checked in with the folks at PA before, you're likely to be delighted, too.

I've written about PortableApps.com previously -- it's a sort of all-in-one, greatest-hits collection of FOSS applications for Windows that can run from a removable hard drive or USB fob and require no formal installation on the machine you're running them on.  Friends of mine have consolidated a good deal of their day-to-day work in a PortableApps setup, so if their main machine is borked they can simply go to another computer, plug in, and pick up where they left off.

A bunch of new and revised programs have popped up since the beginning of the year.  Here are some of my newly updated favorites:

  • Sumatra PDF 0.8 v3.  It amazes me that the standard Adobe PDF reader has to be so slow and overloaded, and yet someone else can write this snappy little program that opens PDFs and renders them in a fraction of the time.  I still keep Adobe's program around in the event I come across a PDF this thing can't open, but that's been happening less and less with each successive revision.
  • WinMerge 2.6.12.  What's changed?  Compare directories or individual files in a flash, and use regular expressions for comparisons (that is, if you've mastered the art of regex to begin with!).
  • VLC Media Player 0.8.6d.  A big reason I keep this handy: it plays just about any video file you can throw at it, including .AVI files with broken indices (which typically don't work in WMP).
  • Toucan. An underrated little program for synchronizing, backing up, and encrypting files to and from drives or directories.  It's a little like Microsoft's SyncToy, but with a tot more flexibility.
  • PokerTH.  Why upgrade to Vista Ultimate for a game of Texas Hold 'Em Poker when you can get one for free?

The rest of the application catalog is worth a peek, too.  If you've got someone whom you want to turn on to a favorite open source application, this is a great way to do it without forcing them to change anything.

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