Talk:Portable application

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Where does the "portable" term come into play in the definition?[edit]

Wouldn't a better definition be "A portable application (portable app), sometimes also called standalone, is a program designed to run on a compatible computer without being installed, and with the ability to preserve user application settings across multiple computers (hence 'portable')".

The article may bit a bit too biased towards "leaving the computer's configuration information intact" (which in itself is rather vague), whereas the origin of the terminology comes from wanting to be able to carry and run an application, along with its user settings, from one computer to the next, and have it preserve its settings. As such, the current definition may create false portability expectation issues, especially for Windows users, who may equate "portable" with "not changing the registry at all".

Or do we mean to imply that, a standalone Windows application that does modify the "computer configuration" after usage (e.g. registry), but allows a user to carry its settings from one computer to the next (through the use of an INI file), is in fact not a "portable application"? PBatard (talk) 15:38, 19 September 2016 (UTC)

how to program portable apps?[edit]

Does anybody have information about how to program portable apps? What are the guidelines, what programming environments on different platforms are suitable, etc.? 03:08, 1 September 2006 (UTC)

There are no guidelines - just get free or open-source software (e.g., you can edit). Make it store its settings and stuff in its own directory, not in the registry or Application Data (Windows) or /home directory (Linux).
Preferably, you can make a launcher (like in NSIS as with FirefoxPortable and the other apps) to wrap everything, than you don't have to edit the program itself at all. 20:50, 19 September 2006 (UTC)
VMware ThinApp can make portable apps, but it is not free... SF007 (talk) 18:40, 17 November 2008 (UTC)
VMware ThinApp is the third type - a virtual packager. It takes a program that isn't itself portable, but makes it run in a virtual enviroment so the traces are written in a temporary virtual place that is gone the second you close the program. The program itself thinks it writes into the real registry and system folders.'s programs, though, just launch non portable programs and then stay in the background in order to delete non portable programs' traces after the programs are shut down. In other words, VMware ThinApp is to be trusted with any software whereas's programs are only meant to be used with trusted programs. Fortunately (although it's just as much for legal reasons), the latter only work with free programs which code is open source. - (talk) 10:52, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

To create a portable app, run the setup file, and install the program a suitable location in the hard drive. Then copy the folder made by the setup file into the external drive. Then uninstall the original file, You will now have a portable app. This won't work for all programs, but it will work for most of them.

This last comment is pure rubbish. That's NOT how you create a portable app at all. It doesn't take Registry settings into account, nor data files stored in AppData, and so on. The last line of the comment should read: "This won't work for 99% of programs, but will for 1% of them."


Hey guys, do you think putting the applications size by the name in the list would be a good idea? after all, this is supposed to be portable apps for a USB key. It would make it more relevent to users with a 128mb USB key.

I'm always in favor of size info. 22:40, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

XP files not backward compatible to 98[edit]

FAT is commonly used to transport portable files. But VFAT LFN support in Windows NT and later versions has a new "feature" that breaks backwards compatibility with all previous OS, such as 98. Sometimes there is a long filename and a 8.3 shortname. Sometimes there is just an ordinary shortname. But sometimes there is a modified shortname, with two hidden bits that encode whether the filename is lowercase. The older versions of Windows do not understand these hidden bits. They treat the filename as all uppercase, so some filenames may change when reading the files on Windows 98. Often this filename change, from "example" to "EXAMPLE", does not matter, because Windows is mostly case-insensitive. But sometimes it causes software to malfunction, in strange ways. This happens with Portable ClamWin and Portable Nvu. The only ways around the problem are to transfer the files in an archive, to move them over a network, or to use Linux to read and re-write the files with the shortname mount option turned off. 22:40, 23 January 2007 (UTC)

'Property, or feature?' section[edit]

This could do with a new title. A question as a title makes it sound like a discussion question rather than an encyclopaedia entry. Just can't think of one myself Aldaden 03:55, 7 July 2007 (UTC)

Perhaps "Inherent property vs Design feature", "Propery vs feature" or something along these lines? EpiVictor 21:51, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Portability versus Microsoft registry[edit]

For many years, getting Microsoft's "Certified for Microsoft Windows" logo required that an application store all its configuration data in registry entries, rather than in separate configuration files. Failing to abide meant no logo. This made it impossible to get a small-footprint app certified, since even giving the user the OPTION of bypassing the registry lost one's certification. Microsoft may have finally relaxed that unpopular and annoying requirement; can anybody confirm this? A recent edit doubted that this policy even seemed plausible; but it was long a bone of contention among independent software developers, who didn't like being forced to rely on the registry, especially in its buggy early days. Getting Microsoft's seal of approval was a necessity, so we had to bite the bullet. I don't see any mention of this requirement in the current "Certified for Microsoft Windows Vista" documents; but I'm not currently trying to code to that standard, and I may not be delving deeply enough in the rule book. Trevor Hanson 06:27, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

BTW I apologize for not having noticed the {{fact}} that was added in June shortly after I edited the sentence in question. I should have found a source for this assertion at the time (though I believed that this was widely known among developers). Perhaps I've been blaming Microsoft for this bully policy even after they fixed it. (They never tell me anything. :) ) Trevor Hanson 06:42, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

Comment about sentence in this article: "It is unclear whether a general solution is or will be available for making a third-party vendor's software portable."

Would the category 'Portable Workspaces' in the Wikipedia article about 'Virtualization' be considered a 'general solution'?

External links[edit]

Shouldn't this section just be removed? AFAICS, it's just spambait? Nuwewsco (talk) 18:38, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

I've removed a lot of the links that have been posted recently. I thing Portable Apps, Portable Freeware and TinyApps are well known engough to be relevant (Certainly the first 2 are the ones I see recommended over and over again). klik and I've never heard of but didn't want to remove the only represtation of Mac and Linux links - Perhaps someone else knows of better links? Aldaden (talk) 13:11, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
FWIW, I've seen portable apps spammed about a lot, but never actually recommended Nuwewsco (talk) 18:39, 19 February 2008 (UTC)
I personally go to Portable Freeware for portable Apps because they have a huge database since they tell you how to make some non-portable apps portable with a few tweaks, but Portable Apps seems to be the place to get portable software for most people. I don't think it's the owners spamming but just because they have a very active community around the site Aldaden (talk) 04:52, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Portable application, Green software & Greenware[edit]

Are they all the same? Or totally different? Is there any definition for these stuff can be found as source of reference? Stewart~惡龍 23:37, 13 April 2008 (UTC)

I've never seen a definition of "green" in this context except the one here -
  • 1.does not require installation
  • 2.does not write to the registry
  • 3.does not create or modify files outside of its own directory
looks like tinyapps is referencing this: an award for entering and leaving the (sea-)port clean and unpolluted... this can be seen in analogy to software, which also should not pollute the host-(system)port with system entries and ini-files ;) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:13, 9 April 2010 (UTC)
If you want to take that as the definition then there are many Portable Applications that aren't Green because they meet the first condition but not 2 or 3. So while on the whole people often prefer it if a Portable app meets the 3 conditions above, there are Portable apps that it would be impossible to make green because of what they were built for - Obviously you can't have a portable Registry Editor that doesn't write to the registy. Aldaden (talk) 00:12, 14 April 2008 (UTC)

Cf. software portability[edit]

It might be good to write something to distinguish this concept from the (older) concept of software portability. —Fleminra (talk) 17:58, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Portable Apps on Linux?[edit]

The section about portable apps on Linux could use some work... can anyone improve it? I would If I had more knowledge... I have found very few references regarding that on the net. The most complete page I found is: but it is not much... SF007 (talk) 18:46, 17 November 2008 (UTC)

  • Usually Linux installs will have a place where a user can install their own applications (~/bin).
  • Also, Linux installs are likely to have the sort of protection and application.
  • To make a Linux application portable you have to account for more variability in host systems, since there is a lot more choice in building, configuring, setting up, etc. in Linux (and most other 'nix) than in Windows. While there are standards, you need to be ready for some flexibility
    • Best bet: compile the program from source with static linked libraries which you supply. Most of the time you will probably get away with assuming that your "host" has libxml2, for example, but maybe they don't use anything which depends on it.
    • Other best bet: Perl, Python, BASH and other scripting languages. If your program is written in Perl,and you have the dependencies on your USB, it will work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by DrKC MD (talkcontribs) 03:06, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Comparison of Linux apps that are not from third-party sources[edit]

Please use comparison tables from independent reviewers. Don't source stuff from comparison tables that are made by one of the companies being compared. All such tables are tweaked to make their own product look better, and can't be trusted as sources. Also, it's spammish, so get a table from an independient reviewer who doesn't have a conflict of interest in making one of the products look better. --Enric Naval (talk) 20:20, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

ok i agree such sources might be potentially biased. but reliablity of sources is context dependend. in this case it was a respected an accepted Open source project. and their comparision was checked by competetive projects (see klik comparision vs zero installation comparision). and, the presented facts was right, debt and RPM was not created with portability in mind. but i'm open for a better fitting description of the actual situation in linux with installation system not really fitting portability requirements. the later part in this chapter is from technical point correct but is hardly an user oriented approach. (talk) 21:15, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
Quote: "Please note that the criteria for comparison are biased towards the development goals of klik". I don't think there's any more context needed here! LinuxAngel (talk) 22:07, 28 April 2010 (UTC)
the criteria selection is biased! not the truthfulnes of the criterias. don't see an problem here, they was just selection the criterias for portability also the excact selection needed for that article. (and, imho, it's even an good sign that these project people well aware of potential biasing problem) (talk) 00:12, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Portableapps links to this article.[edit]

"Portableapps" links to this article while "PortableApps" links to Shouldn't the alternate capitalization also link to the other article? I don't think people would use "portableapps" to search for the general concept of portable applications. It's a brand name. (talk) 14:13, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

Current confusing definition of a portable application in article[edit]

The current definition of a portable as is not clear enough or accurate enough. The article intro currently reads:

"A portable application (portable app), sometimes also called standalone, is a program designed to read and write its configuration settings into an accessible folder in the computer, usually the folder where the portable application can be found. This makes it easier to transfer the program with the user's preferences and data between different computers. A program that doesn't have any configuration options is also a portable application."

This does not quite comport to the definition of a portable as I have always understood it and as I have seen used elsewhere on the internet. Here is a summarized version of the definition of a portable application from [1]:

"A portable application (portable app) is a software product designed to be easily moved from one computing environment to another...Portable apps are usually stored on USB drives but can be stored on some other flash media...portable apps can be used on any compatible device, wherever the user is...A portable app is not installed and as a rule, does not put associated files and configuration information on the host device but stores all application files and data together. Because files and data are self-contained, portable apps run independently of the host operating system (OS)."

The key requirements to be a portable app based on the most common definition are:

  • Must be able to run a on external drive such as USB flash drive, flash memory card, or a external hard drive without needing to be installed on the system you intend to run it on.
  • Must store settings, if any, either on the same storage media or in the cloud so that the settings stay the same no matter what computer/device the app is run on.
  • Must be able to run the app on any compatible system that is capable and allowed to run portable apps.

Now where things get tricky is whether certain cloud based on count as portable apps. Apps that run completely via a website generally don't count as portable is this sense. But what about apps that download app binaries to your machine to be able to run but are not installed permanently in the usual app instillation way? For example. do Progressive Web Apps also qualify as portable apps too?

If no one objects to the definition of a "portable application" I have laid out above, then I would be happy to try and fix the intro and ports of the main text to better describe portable apps. --2600:1700:56A0:4680:BC96:8641:D88A:8194 (talk) 17:26, 15 April 2018 (UTC)

App on USB stick is portable application?[edit]

Who came up with the idea of that photo? Portability does not mean that you carry your application in your shirt pocket. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:26, 29 June 2018 (UTC)