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Finding Mac OS X Portable Apps

Mac users can choose from many portable apps, too, including the Firefox Web browser, Adium instant messaging client, and Thunderbird e-mail client.

FreeSMUG (Free OpenSource Software Mac User Group) has a goodly selection of Mac-ready portable apps. You can also find lots of apps on the SourceForge OS X Portable Applications page.

Installing Mac OS X Portable Apps

Installing the portable version of Firefox on Mac OS X is straightforward.
Installing portable apps for OS X is a different process than for Windows, but still very simple.

The app will download in a single archive file called a "disc image." Once the image has downloaded, click it to open it. Open the Finder, navigate to your phone/drive, and then drag the portable app's folder from the disc image to your phone/drive. (Or, if you prefer, drag it to a folder on the phone/drive; I have a folder named 'OSX-Apps' to keep my Mac apps organized and separate from my Windows apps.) Once the portable app folder is on the drive, you can eject the disk image if you wish to get rid of it.

To run the portable app, open the Finder, navigate to the app folder, and click the app shortcut. It will drop into your Dock, and you can then run it as you would any other program.

Finding Linux Portable Apps

Installing the Portable Firefox on Linux.
Linux enthusiasts who are smartphone users can get in on the portable-app action, as well.

Pendrivelinux is the go-to site for step-by-step tutorials that provide a multitude of portable options for many of the most popular distributions, including Ubuntu and PCLinuxOS.

Running a full-blown Linux OS like Ubuntu from your smartphone is probably the most powerful and customizable way to run portable desktop apps. You can access hundreds of software packages through the Synaptic package manager. Additionally, using portable apps allows you to create a system rescue option for disaster recovery.

On top of that, you can also run many Windows-based portable apps on Linux machines that have Wine (a Linux program that simulates a Windows environment) or Crossover (the for-pay, professionally supported version of Wine) installed. Your mileage may vary, but I have had success running's Firefox Portable Edition in Wine on Ubuntu 10.04.

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