If you're like me, your USB key should come with its own flame retardant coating. That's because I tend to use my little four-gigabyte device to great excess on a near-daily basis. It's an easy fix for transferring files from a desktop PC to a laptop, and it's great for carrying batches of files I need to access (especially if I'm without an Internet connection, making Dropbox useless). If I'm heading over to a friend's house, I can slap a movie on the drive for us to watch on an attached PC or home theater device. I can throw down a game or two if I'm going to be travelling and don't feel like reading about overpriced devices that will pet my cat for me. USB keys are more than just a geek's trusty friends. They're uber-tools in their own right.
Application suites for USB keys are another popular way of extending the functionality of your desktop into the portable realm. Install these batches of software and you can take your favorite programs along with you wherever you go--perfect for when you're using a computer that isn't yours, yet you would prefer to be able to access to a better range of apps than Windows' default programs. Better still, you can stick these batches of applications on smaller USB keys to extend the life of these sub-gigabyte devices. The storage might stink, but the functionality will rule.
[Update: Removed one entry due to complaints of GPL violations -- Editor]
What it does: The alpha and omega of portable application suites is conveniently called, "PortableApps." Were there any software suites on this list that you would have already heard of prior to this article, this would be the one. And there's a good reason why. PortableApps packs a great deal of functionality into its three software bundles, which take up space ranging from 1.3MB to 355MB. You get the standard suite of Mozilla applications, a portable antivirus scanner, games, the OpenOffice suite, and more! Check out the full list here .
What it does: If you thought PortableApps was packed, just wait. The three versions of Lupo PenSuite range from 3MB to 300MB in space. The latter includes a more than 200 apps themed around nine main categories: Internet, Multimedia, Graphics, System, Security, Office, Utility, Extra, and Games. Highlights included a portable version of uTorrent; more audio editing and CD ripping/burning apps then you ever thought you needed; Gimp for photo editing; CPU-Z and JkDefrag Plus for system information and drive cleaning; CCleaner for keeping your system clutter-free; and Notepad++ for adding colorful syntax to your file editing. I tried to say all of those in one breath, but failed. Check out the full list of apps here .
Download it here !
What it does: Tired of grabbing application suites in which you only end up using five percent of the listed programs? Think you can do better than your average suite developer when it comes to picking and choosing the top apps that should go in a bundle? Alright, tough person. Hit up the Regional Support Centre Scotland North & East's official Web site and create your own customized MyApps listing. Pick the programs you want to have on your key, and the site will automatically create the single install file for you. It's as easy as that (or, if you're stubborn, grab one of the three pre-built packages: AccessApps, LearnApps, or TeachApps)
What it does: I lied. Mojopac isn't an application suite so much as it is an entire virtualized operating system--sort-of. Load this onto your USB key and you can boot into a separate Windows environment on any Windows XP-based PC. While the program ties into existing files on the system's hard drive to create this second operating system, the contents of said OS remain yours to install programs into, modify, and tweak. When you're done, shut down your personalized OS and it's as if you were never sitting at the attached PC to begin with. Neat, huh?
Download it here !
Install David Murphy on your USB drive by first befriending him @acererak . He's only 35MB, so no need to worry about space concerns.