It’s very common for the work-at-home or primarily work-at-home web worker to lead a nomadic computing life. One of my favorite ways to make this style of working efficient is to keep a USB key with applications I like in my pocket at all times. I’ve written before about good tiny apps to tote for Mac users and Windows users. If you don’t want the hassle of choosing your own tiny apps to load for work-anywhere use, though, there is a good alternative for one-stop shopping: the PortableApps.com Suite.
PortableApps.com is a great resource for finding free, hosted applications ideal to keep on portable storage devices. However, it also offers a free suite of pre-chosen applications that you can get in one, quick download.
The PortableApps.com Suite consists of a set of free, open source applicatinons most of which are aimed at common tasks for web workers. You can load it on a portable USB drive, a portable hard drive, or even an iPod. The software footprint for the applications is 89.5MB for the full version of the suite, and 30.4MB for a lite version.
The apps you get with the suite are mostly well-chosen, including a web browser (Firefox), e-mail client (Thunderbird), an office suite (OpenOffice), a calendar/scheduler, an instant messaging client, antivirus tools, and a backup utility. If you are carrying it on a USB drive, one addition I would recommend is a good FTP application, which can come in really handy when you need to move large files around. Browse around the PortableApps site, especially the links down the left rail of the home page for open source applications that you may find useful.
Unfortunately, the PortableApps.com Suite is Windows-only at this point. If you’re a Mac user, check out the collection of Mac apps you can load individually in the link at the top of this post. It’s a great convenience–and sometimes a life-saver–to have good applications designed to store your preferences right in your pocket.
Do you keep portable applications with you even when you’re not toting a computer?