Gray Matter


Portable Applications on Windows and Linux Computers

RT Cunningham | January 21, 2021 (UTC) | Linux, Windows

Portable ApplicationsThere are a couple of ways to run portable applications on your computer. Whatever way you do it, you need an external USB drive. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a flash drive, a solid-state drive or a hard disk drive, as long as you can boot up with it.

Portable Applications at

Back when I ran Windows exclusively, I used the PortableApps platform with multiple low-capacity USB flash drives. I used them for Windows programs I didn’t want to install on my computer.

Back in 2006, I used portable Firefox at internet cafés in the Philippines because the Windows computers at those places were always corrupted with malware. The only reason I had to go to those places is because it was before my house was built, and I didn’t have an internet connection available to me.

It’s still a good idea to run portable applications when you’re running Windows. Every program installed on Windows itself adds to the registry bloat, slowly slowing everything down.

Portable Applications with a Linux Live USB Drive

Whether you’re running Windows, Linux or even macOS, you can run a Linux live USB version of almost any Linux distribution. You just need to boot up with a USB drive instead of the default drive. It doesn’t matter what the media is as long as you can make it bootable.

I haven’t had much luck outside the Ubuntu family of distributions. Most programs designed to create bootable USB drives don’t seem to work right. I’ve personally tested and used Ubuntu, Ubuntu MATE and Linux Mint (both the Cinnamon and MATE editions).

I’ve used the Universal USB Installer and Rufus on Windows, and I’ve used UNetbootin on Linux. They don’t always work and all I can say is good luck. Sometimes the USB drive has to be formatted before the programs will work correctly.

Portable Linux Instead of Windows

I don’t like Windows and I dread using a laptop computer with Windows installed. Unfortunately, that’s what 98 percent of all the laptop computers being sold in the United States have preloaded on them. I’ve checked. Computers with Linux preloaded are more expensive, even with the same hardware.

Although it’s getting rarer by the year, I always carry Linux on a stick when I know I’ll only have access to a computer running Windows.

Photo Attribution: Esa Riutta from Pixabay
Edited and updated. Originally published at one of my other websites in April 2018.

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