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Topic: The advantages of Portable Apps (Read 5966 times)

  • ersi
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The advantages of Portable Apps
Serious question: Why use portable software? I never installed any portable app and have, so I think, had a full life anyway.

What could be the advantages? Mobility? Privacy?

If I understood correctly, portable software is installed to a portable medium (USB stick these days) to be stuck into a computer to which one has access atm.

If this is correct, and e.g. the browser's profile and cache is directed to the USB stick, then the computer should not retain traces of usage from the ported browser.

Question: If I install the browser in Linux, is it connectible to a Windows computer? If not, the portable app doesn't look like much of an advantage.

Moreover, at my job we nicely have USB sockets in computers, but when you stick stuff in, the computer asks for admin password. Doesn't look like a portable app would work in this case, right?

If one is mobile (which I am) and has access to different comps (which I do), I sort of tend to think that a whole portable OS (such as Puppy Linux) would make more sense than individual portable apps. Except that I haven't used a portable OS either - I have my own laptop.

Comments?

  • Frenzie
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #1
I'll voice some of my opinion through quotes transplanted from My Opera. I run into disagreements about the exact same point every time.

11. January 2010, 17:31:50
Quote from: Frenzie
Quote from: lwiczek
Portable mode means there is no track of foobar in the system, that is the whole point of it  :faint:

Opera, SciTE, foobar2000 0.8.x, 0.9.x, FileZilla and lots of other software I use is portable, by which I mean I can copy the folder, dump it somewhere, run it and bam, it works with my settings. Whether or not I then make some file associations to that program or not is an entirely different matter. Software like SciTE doesn't offer a way to set it as the default at all and I'm fine with that, but I've always rather conveniently used foobar2000's "set as default for this and that" feature to do so on systems where I may wish to do so. None of my old foobar2000s will do anything to any system unless I very explicitly tell them to using the dialog that this new "portable mode" now disabled.
Quote from: lwiczek
Go to Preferences -> General and set location of configuration files to application instalation folder, here, problem solved ;]

Only if that actually makes it portable and it doesn't default to the default settings if I copy it onto a USB stick, another computer or whatever because it can't find the explicitly defined folder. Hence why I chose portable in the installer to begin with.
Quote from: lwiczek
About using D&S/Users folder - I love the idea, especially whet there are several users of the system!

I like the way it works in Linux. In Windows, not so much.





31. August 2012, 08:42:30
Quote from: TommyVee
Please allow making Opera the default browser even when it is stand-alone installed on any USB drive!
Moreover, it'd be great to have the option making it the default browser not only within the computer currently used, but also for all subsequent ones we may connect the USB drive to :)

E.g. I have my "master" Opera (just upgraded to version 12.02 Build 1578, Win32) on an USB external HD. Right now, I cannot make it the default browser, which'd really useful. Moreover, it'd be great that, once set as the default browser, this setting can be optionally kept (and not automatically erased, as it just happened when upgrading to 12.02, which erased Opera default-handling of web files and protocols that I previously set) and so applied to any computer we connect this USB-stand-alone Opera to.


Quote from: LinuxMint7
But what happens if you plug your USB drive with Opera installed into someone's computer and it sets Opera as the default browser, But then you remove the USB drive so that Opera is no longer around ?. Could make some people very unhappy by changing their default settings on their machine.

:down:


Quote from: burnout426
See <http://my.opera.com/operawiki/forums/topic.dml?id=1299672>.


Quote from: Frenzie
+1, however as burnout426 implied it's still possible with the /singleuser install option. I believe his last post in that topic should result in the equivalent of the USB install option except that it won't gray out the possibility of making Opera the default browser.
Quote from: LinuxMint7
But what happens if you plug your USB drive with Opera installed into someone's computer and it sets Opera as the default browser, But then you remove the USB drive so that Opera is no longer around ?. Could make some people very unhappy by changing their default settings on their machine.

That's no reason to gray out the option to make it the default since one could do the exact same thing with any browser installed on someone else's computer. I'm really not seeing the point of your objection. Either you're an ass and you change someone else's defaults, or you're not.


Quote from: LinuxMint7
Quote from: Frenzie
That's no reason to gray out the option to make it the default since one could do the exact same thing with any browser installed on someone else's computer. I'm really not seeing the point of your objection. Either you're an ass and you change someone else's defaults, or you're not.


People can get confused so easily, Especially new or inexperienced users, Some people wouldn't even know what default or even browser meant if faced with the "X is not currently set as your default browser, Would you like to make it your default browser" dialogue, Or even panic that something has gone wrong with their computer etc. Even more so nowadays, As computers are owned and accessed by so many more people than they used to be. I know what people can be like, As i have repaired, Configured and installed computers for people for over 25 years.

Oh, And just out of curiosity, How many browsers do you know that are officially portable, That can be run from a USB stick, And can be set as the default browser ?.


Quote from: Frenzie
Quote from: LinuxMint7
Some people wouldn't even know what default or even browser meant if faced with the "X is not currently set as your default browser, Would you like to make it your default browser" dialogue

That dialog should be removed from all browsers yesterday as far as I'm concerned. The OP and I are talking about the grayed-out setting in advanced preferences.
Quote from: LinuxMint7
How many browsers do you know that are officially portable, That can be run from a USB stick, And can be set as the default browser ?.

Are any of them even portable? :)


Quote from: serious
That simply doesn't make any sense. The whole point of an usb-installation is that it doesn't leave traces on the host.


Quote from: Frenzie
Quote from: serious
That simply doesn't make any sense. The whole point of an usb-installation is that it doesn't leave traces on the host.

Why make a USB installation a handicapped single-profile installation? The word USB may well be the fastest way to explain the concept of a self-contained, portable installation, but what doesn't make any sense is to make it suboptimal for anything but USB use. It's not like we're talking about adding any new features here, merely about removing a misfeature that shouldn't have been added at all.


Quote from: serious
If you want a stand-alone, self-contained version that does it's thing than we already have the single-directory-install method (however that is now called) which works exactly as you want.

Not leaving traces is _not_ an anti-feature!


Quote from: Frenzie
Yes, I said so above. But is there even any documentation for those installer command-line options other than the post that introduced the new installer? I happen to know about that, but in that case I find it most peculiar that you're referring to users who don't follow the Desktop Team blog as those who would profit from this anti-feature. However, I'll readily admit that the real fault lies with windows. If their default filetypes and protocols dialog could at least be resized and perhaps had a search box then applications wouldn't need to add options to easily make them the default.
Quote from: serious
Not leaving traces is _not_ an anti-feature!

Graying out an otherwise available option is an anti-feature. No one said anything about leaving unwanted traces. That too would be an anti-feature.

I suppose I should spell out a possible use case, so here goes:

You perform a USB  installation of Opera, either because

1) You want to use it on a USB stick. Later on you decide to copy your customized copy of Opera over to some computer or other because Opera's awesome and you can do that, only to find you'll have to perform a different kind of install first and have to bother with changing settings, or dig around in the unusable Windows filetypes dialog. This reason is quite related to which Windows applications I like and which I do not. Note that Opera would still fall squarely in the "like" category, but whichever route you take to make Opera the default takes significantly more effort than it should.

or

2) Just because you don't want it to leave any traces. It turns out you like Opera and want to make it the default browser, but you can't do it easily.

Both of these scenarios I have successfully used to convert people to Opera in the past. They've since switched to Firefox because of things like this, breaking the /profile or whatever it's called switch (since fixed in the form of Linux-like -pd I believe), and a variety of other things. I suppose you might be able to counter with someone who accidentally made Opera their default browser, but I'd wonder how that person never did the same thing with Firefox, Chrome, IE or any other browser that offers that option.


Quote from: serious
making some changes in the registry (file type associations) is exactly leaving traces.


Quote from: Frenzie
"No one said anything about leaving unwanted traces." You have to go into Settings > Preferences > Advanced > Programs and click the "make Opera the default browser on this computer" button. It's fairly complicated and nigh impossible to do by accident, but not nearly as hard as trying to use the minuscule Windows filetypes dialog.

Whether the Windows filetypes dialog is sufficiently hard to warrant adding a feature like this to a program is debatable, but the answer from makers of just about all programs has been a resounding "yes" for the past two decades. The most important factor here is that Opera simply grayed out what had been working fine since Opera 6 (albeit with a little manual or scripted aid prior to Opera 9).

As I also said, the whole "check if this browser is the default" option is ludicrous as far as I'm concerned. That results in things being clicked by accident.


Quote from: LinuxMint7
Quote from: Frenzie
The most important factor here is that Opera simply grayed out what had been working fine since Opera 6 (albeit with a little manual or scripted aid prior to Opera 9).


Then it should be removed instead of being disabled, Then everyone will be happy. :)


Quote from: Frenzie
Quote from: LinuxMint7
Then it should be removed instead of being disabled, Then everyone will be happy.

True enough on my account.


Quote from: TommyVee
Quote from: LinuxMint7
But what happens if you plug your USB drive with Opera installed into someone's computer and it sets Opera as the default browser, But then you remove the USB drive so that Opera is no longer around ?. Could make some people very unhappy by changing their default settings on their machine.

:down:

To be default on any connected-computer should be left optional, by either a check box in the settings or even better a pop-up appearing any time I connect the USB-Opera on a computer and asking if you want to make it default or not.


Quote from: TommyVee
Quote from: serious
That simply doesn't make any sense. The whole point of an usb-installation is that it doesn't leave traces on the host.

Yes, but why don't leave this as an option, in case you don't care not leaving traces?
That's e.g. my case, and USB-installation is so useful because I can have the whole Opera with me, being able to connect it to whichever computer, but the only missing thing is the default browser possibility.


Quote from: TommyVee
Quote from: burnout426
See <http://my.opera.com/operawiki/forums/topic.dml?id=1299672>.

Quote from: serious
If you want a stand-alone, self-contained version that does it's thing than we already have the single-directory-install method (however that is now called) which works exactly as you want.

Sorry, but I'm confused since unexperienced.

What I need is: an Opera installation entirely (all the profile, emails, settings, ... - everything) included inside a single folder (no other multi-user profile folders, no strings attached in the registry, etc. - hence putable in a USB drive or wherever else I want) which can be made (in the current computer or even better optionally in any future computer) default browser and remembers it.

Can you please tell me how can I currently obtain this step-by-step?

Thank you :)


Quote from: LinuxMint7
Quote from: TommyVee
Can you please tell me how can I currently obtain this step-by-step?

Thank you :)


Download the standard Opera installer, Run it, Select 'Options' bottom left of the installer window.

Locate the 'Install for' option and change it to 'Stand-alone installation (USB)'

Point it to a folder or a USB stick via the 'Install path' option and click 'Accept and install'

Now this install is self contained and it's folder can be place/move anywhere.

EDIT: Just remember to download the correct installer for the specific architecture you wish to
run the portable install on (X86, X64, Linux etc).


Quote from: Frenzie
@LinuxMint7
TommyVee is already aware of that. He needs to use the /singleprofile option as detailed here.


Quote from: LinuxMint7
Quote from: Frenzie
@LinuxMint7
TommyVee is already aware of that. He needs to use the /singleprofile option as detailed here.


USB install does that too, As far a i can see.

Quote from: burnout426
* USB /"Standalone installation" (where Opera doesn't touch the registry and doesn't create any shortcuts and doesn't make itself the default and uses a single profile folder) to current user's profile space and launch Opera.

Code: [Select]

"opera_installer.exe" /silent /installfolder "%userprofile%\My Program Files\Opera test install" /copyonly 1 /allusers 0 /singleprofile 1 /setdefaultbrowser 0 /startmenushortcut 0 /desktopshortcut 0 /quicklaunchshortcut 0 /launchopera 1


This one is just an example. You can do this right from the GUI and don't need the command line options.


Quote from: Frenzie
*cough*
Quote from: TommyVee
which can be made (in the current computer or even better optionally in any future computer) default browser and remembers it.

That's the entire reason he made this topic in the first place.


Quote from: serious
oh, seems that option was removed (there was a "normal" single-directory install previously) :( should be put there again :)


[skipped a couple of posts]

Quote from: Frenzie
Quote from: serious
oh, seems that option was removed (there was a "normal" single-directory install previously) :( should be put there again :)
That could work, but I don't think there's a difference between the two other than that USB disables the possibility of making Opera the default browser through the preferences window. The graying out of that option, no matter how little time it cost, was wasted time that makes life harder for users if you ask me.

Anyway, I just realized no one mentioned the other alternative: I believe that simply extracting the Opera archive (with e.g. 7-zip) is essentially the same thing as a single profile installation. I personally prefer that method over all others.



  • j7n
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #2
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  • Last Edit: 2014-04-24, 04:41:03 by j7n

  • ersi
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #3
Thanks for commenting. I see now that I haven't missed any amazing advantages of the incredibly innovative portable software. I have only missed a lot of hype and nuisance :)


Anyway, I just realized no one mentioned the other alternative: I believe that simply extracting the Opera archive (with e.g. 7-zip) is essentially the same thing as a single profile installation. I personally prefer that method over all others.

There's a tiny little browser called OB1 (OffByOne, not Obi-Wan), an implementation of HTML3.2 only, pretty close to a text browser. The original version of it was packed in a zip - just the program and a DLL. No installer. Unzip the two files in the same folder and run the exe. That's all. No installation process. No profile other than the settings inside the app. Self-evidently, the folder where you unzip it can also be on USB, on any drive. This is what I'd call a portable app.

Later (due to some ill-conceived "popular demand"?) the next version had an installer and the interface was tabbed. Bad moves both. Maybe you can still find the older version to give it a ride, if you have Windows.


Quote
Moreover, at my job we nicely have USB sockets in computers, but when you stick stuff in, the computer asks for admin password. Doesn't look like a portable app would work in this case, right?
Maybe you can download the (compressed) software over the network and run it then?

This sounds like cloud software, yet another breed in the portable category. Do you like Google OS?


Quote
If one is mobile (which I am) and has access to different comps (which I do), I sort of tend to think that a whole portable OS (such as Puppy Linux) would make more sense than individual portable apps.
Loading an entire OS from a removable device would take a long time and potentially decrease the life of the removable medium, if it's flash-based. Creating such an OS takes more skill and time [snip]
The point with Puppy Linux is that it's already created and designed to work this way - from USB or disc, not from harddisk. On USB or disc it's not meant as a LiveTryBeforeYouBuy thing, but fully usable, mainly as a recovery tool. Except that the software selection on it is rich enough to provide a full desktop experience. You can use Puppy Linux regularly to revive old hardware that refuses boot any other way for some reason. Or, as I understand it, as a portable OS, to stick into anything bootable on your way. Another similar release is Knoppix.

This is what I have gathered from the reviews. I am yet to try one of those things out.

Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #4

Serious question: Why use portable software? I never installed any portable app and have, so I think, had a full life anyway.

What could be the advantages? Mobility? Privacy?


- It doesn't mess up Windows registry. Uninstallers won't clean up registry entries.
- It's convenient to have everything in a folder & subfolders.
- No bundled crapware in the installer.

  • ersi
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #5
Krake, your list in its entirety is a non-argument. Software shouldn't be designed in a crappy way in the first place.

On Windows apps can be run without any installation process. "Portable" on Windows shouldn't mean "better installer". It should mean NO installer, like the zip version of this browser http://offbyone.com/offbyone/ob1_download.htm

  • Banned Member
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #6
The advantages of Portable Apps
First looked at it, I read it as "The advantages of Portugal Apps", and it struck me.
;D

  • j7n
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #7
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  • Last Edit: 2014-04-24, 04:40:51 by j7n

Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #8

Software shouldn't be designed in a crappy way in the first place.


But it is, for Windows at least. I'm afraid you won't change this :D

On Windows apps can be run without any installation process.


For sure they can, that's no breaking news.

"Portable" on Windows shouldn't mean "better installer".


"Portable" doesn't mean "better installer". I'm afraid you got it wrong. Software can be "Portable" with or without an installer. A zip package can also be "Portable" (it isn't always the case).


It should mean NO installer, like the zip version of this browser http://offbyone.com/offbyone/ob1_download.htm


An installer can be also very useful as it can give you options for how (single/multi-user) and/or what parts of the software to install (custom install)  8)

I knew about Off By One Web Browser. BTW, it was merely a demo, not something to replace a full featured browser.

  • ersi
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #9

I knew about Off By One Web Browser. BTW, it was merely a demo, not something to replace a full featured browser.
It's an awesome demonstration how a browser can be portable.

I agree with your general point that in the software world the definition of "portable" has turned out to be whatever it has turned out to be and I can't change it unless I design my own software. Still, there's also the way that makes sense. Looks like a portable OS makes more sense than a portable app.

Hey, I remember booting some kind of Linux as a window in Windows. Now that's portable! But it was ages ago and only once just for fun. I don't remember what the distro was and how I did it. I did it from the harddrive, I remember this much.

Btw, j7n, that link to Word and Excel is useful! Thanks!

Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #10
So is Opera  :)

  • j7n
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #11
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  • Last Edit: 2014-04-24, 04:40:40 by j7n

  • ersi
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #12

There is now a portable version of Microsoft Word 97, which works very well on work computers that have a newer version of Office installed. Surprisingly it still hasn't been taken down on copyright grounds.

I tried to install the Word and Excel app on my sister's Windows laptop. Norton antivirus identified the apps as viruses. So she is doomed to learn herself LibreOffice.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #13
I find LibreOffice more usable than any version of MS Office (especially if you use ODT, but also with DOC). Only its track changes functionality is inferior.

  • j7n
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #14
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  • Last Edit: 2014-04-24, 04:39:03 by j7n

  • ersi
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #15

I find LibreOffice more usable than any version of MS Office (especially if you use ODT, but also with DOC). Only its track changes functionality is inferior.
To me also OpenOffice and LibreOffice are more usable than the newer releases of MS Office, but my sister is interacting with people who generally have MS Office. When she creates her own documents, she is bound to get complaints like "What kind of file is this? It's not a .doc/.xls!" so she has to learn to save files carefully, and everybody of course hates to learn.

Besides inferior track changes, LibreOffice has not full compatibility with .doc. I have gotten complaints that certain element such as tables, headers and footers have shifted after I tampered with documents. Also, industry-leading translation programs like Trados and WordFast are specific to MS Office and not cross-platform. These are a few aspects how Linux limits my professional chances, but I survive.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #16
Besides inferior track changes, LibreOffice has not full compatibility with .doc.

And DOCX support is significantly worse, although 4.2 promises improvements in at least not losing information it can't process. But I was talking about stuff like how F5 to manage the document structure and such is significantly superior to MS Word's equivalent where for instance you can't manually select multiple headings to promote or demote them, how F11 to manage styles is so much simpler than MS Office, and a few more things along those lines.

The main problem with track changes in Open/LibreOffice is that in its dedicated mode you get this popup dialog that completely removes you from the actual text. Besides that it's serviceable.

Also, industry-leading translation programs like Trados and WordFast are specific to MS Office and not cross-platform. These are a few aspects how Linux limits my professional chances, but I survive.

MS Office 2010, or at least Word 2010, actually seems to run perfectly in Wine, although I prefer to run it on Windows 7. (If "prefer" is the right word.)

Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #17
MS Office 2010, or at least Word 2010, actually seems to run perfectly in Wine, although I prefer to run it on Windows 7. (If "prefer" is the right word.)

Do you mean the paid version or the free ad sponsored one?

  • Frenzie
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #18
the free ad sponsored one?

The what now? :right:

Edit: anyway, if Microsoft is going for the former Opera business model I imagine displaying some lousy ads isn't exactly the hard part of supporting MS Office?

  • ersi
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #19

MS Office 2010, or at least Word 2010, actually seems to run perfectly in Wine, although I prefer to run it on Windows 7. (If "prefer" is the right word.)
I strongly doubt Trados and Wordfast would run well in Wine, and cooperate with MS Office there. And I am not used to working with them anyway. I have used them at various jobs, some employers demand them, but I haven't used them routinely. Also, Trados costs insanely, and I refuse to buy it for myself. I have an MS Office 2000 disc lying around (didn't pay for it), but it's legacy now (no .docx), and I refuse to buy newer versions.

Free software should be more widespread for many reasons and I am making my small mark here professionally.

  • j7n
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #20
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  • Last Edit: 2014-04-24, 04:38:55 by j7n

  • Frenzie
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #21
Btw, I just checked and according to Wikipedia (sourced to some PDF file on the Trados website), Trados supports OpenDocument and plain text files. Of course, that doesn't change a thing if the employer demands it be used in conjunction with MS Office.


There is a "compatibility pack" for Office 2000 adding support for DOCX. I briefly tried it, it worked. But I haven't extensively tested it. The compatibility pack took more space on my hard drive than Word and Excel 2000 themselves.

I remember they released such a tool when Office 2007 came out, but I somehow remember it only as supporting Office 2003 and XP. Visiting the download link proves my memory wrong, but it does seem like support is worst in MS Word 2000. ;)

Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #22
The what now? :right:

There's a version that comes pre-installed on PCs that's free, but shows an ad in the corner. It's basically a replacement for MS Works. Of course, that pertains to the US, I'm not sure about the EU.

For a while, I had Word 2007 working perfectly in Ubuntu. Installation was trivial.

Right now I'm not as sure as I once about that necessity of having Word. At my writers group meeting there was a discussion about publishing books to Kindle and one of the points that came out was to make your final save a .rtf. For my purposes, a combination of LibreOffice for the actual authoring and Lyx for final formatting/typesetting might be a superior option to Word.

  • Frenzie
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Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #23
I actually went without Word for years, but was forced to install it recently due to some incompatibility issues. My initial reason for switching was exactly what I outlined above: I like the GUI and functionality better. In Word working with styles somehow always felt like I was forcing it, especially since it liked to make up new styles out of thin air (style X + feature Y).

When I can, I actually prefer to forgo on any kind of "traditional" authoring tools. LaTeX has the best typesetting, and Markdown the highest usability.

Re: The advantages of Portable Apps
Reply #24
Just to add my 2ct - but from what I've read I just have to agree with some of the previous posters... I like to cite cameyos slogan here "because software should be used, not installed" - in fact, except for some x64 versions where there is no portable alternative and using 64bits makes sense (like gimp) or sadly not avoidable for the majority of bought proggies I want&|need on my system - it's always the portable version I am using not as portable but as fixed on my desktop system, it is just more convenient for me. I am making regular images of my system partition and do revert from time to time to them, and then it is always welcome if the changes/settings for those apps is not lost - though I have moved my_documents and such to another partition the roaming/appdata folder still is on c: and e.g. before I thought about symlinks I always lost my changes with EAC-Profiles between partitionimages. If EAC would have sticked to its old (single user/portable-app like behaviour) of storing its profiles within the app-folder that wouldn't have been a problem. Another example would be Gaim/Pidgin, where some years ago I encountered a problem with its incompatibility towards my updated install of GTK, so I switched to the portable version so that I could keep the up2date version of GTK installed and still use the messenger. Or when upgrading from XP x64 to Win7 as I have done just recently it was nice to avoid the need of installing X Apps again, as I could just use 'em right away from my old Program Partition - e.g. my Opera Install (Of course, system close applications like AV, DShow Filters, Runtimes and such are still kept on the System Partition, but those have to stay consistent with the image - other apps should rely on ini/config files and not the registry and such - common files like dlls and registration with copyprotection systems is another topic)... endless topic, no :beer: ahead, I am all in for "portable" :sherlock: