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Old 10-25-2009, 08:36 PM
gaffer gaffer is offline
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Default Portable Applications in BSD
Is there an equivalent of portable applications (preferably tiny) in BSD? You know, the apps that you can transport from one PC to another, usually run from a flash drive.
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:22 PM
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Default Re: Portable Applications in BSD
I never really thought about it but I would guess that there is. However, portable applications can be run on any computer system with which they are compatible but typically require a specific operating system, so it wouldn't be possible to run one from PC-BSD to an operating system it is incompatible with; such as, Windows.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:51 PM
gaffer gaffer is offline
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Default Re: Portable Applications in BSD
Yeah, thats what I meant. Obviously the apps would need to be OS compatible. To rephrase, from BSD to BSD or more specifically PCBSD to PCBSD, are there any portable apps. Is a PBI directory (though they are relatively big compared with Windows apps), transportable from one PCBSD machine to another? ?
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Old 10-26-2009, 08:25 PM
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Default Re: Portable Applications in BSD
Due to the design of FreeBSD, most programs are portable between systems supporting the same ABI. You only have to set them up accordingly. You could imagine a flash drive as a portable PBI to go.

The main problem is the occasional stubborn bastardo who hard codes things he shouldn't, which would need patches or configuration tweaks.
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Old 10-27-2009, 05:25 AM
gaffer gaffer is offline
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Default Re: Portable Applications in BSD
Originally Posted by TerryP
The main problem is the occasional stubborn bastardo who hard codes things he shouldn't, which would need patches or configuration tweaks.
In Windows, the so-called portable apps are deliberately coded so that you simply run the executables and thats it. No installing, no compiling. No patches or config hacks required. It sounds like a PBI, right? It knows, remembers, and uses relative paths, so patching/tweaking is usually not necessary. Of course, not all apps can be made portable. But I've seen a trend (in Windows),where a lot of programs also have portable versions.

Don't we all have a spare USB flash drive filled with these apps lying around? Was hoping that PC-BSD had the equivalent.
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Old 10-27-2009, 05:13 PM
TerryP TerryP is offline
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Default Re: Portable Applications in BSD
Originally Posted by gaffer
In Windows, the so-called portable apps are deliberately coded so that you simply run the executables and thats it. No installing, no compiling. No patches or config hacks required. It sounds like a PBI, right?

Actually this sounds like standard software development under UNIX and a few other platforms :-P.


Windows was so kind as to provide standard interfaces for storing most kinds of data (Qt wraps portably fwiw), but that is storing data in the registry. Many of the games I've used for example, look up information through the registry. Even PuTTY stores per user data into the registry, because that is the normal and natural way on Windows.


UNIX convention is to store data in a system directory, either compiled into the executable or found with relative paths; good software also documents an interface to override it, such as an environment variable or command line switch, as well as ways to append to it. User data is stored in hidden files in the users home directory, where they can be backed up just like any other regular file; as opposed to having to locate and export the relivent registry keys. This makes installing software virtually an "Xcopy installation" in WinTerms, in fact that is just what the install program is made for.


Where the question of portability really becomes a problem on FreeBSD, is the ABI and library interfaces required to make the program runnable.


On Windows, you can basically compile code that will run any many related versions of Microsoft's operating systems as long as the dlls are there; it's one of the sweet aspects of developing for it. FreeBSD however, is bit more strict about it (and OpenBSD much more so). You shouldn't for example try running a program compiled for FreeBSD 7.0 on FreeBSD 5.5, and actually expect it to work like a charm. Doing the inverse may work with suitable adjustments but is not gaurrenteed to function correctly, let along at all.

An end result of that, TexLive will probably run on most forms of Windows NT, but your toast if you want the latest release to run on an older FreeBSD.



If I was going to make a USB stick for regular work. I would likely setup a programs folder with batch and shell scripts to handle environment changes. Within it, would likely be a set of folders per OS and version; e.g. /mnt/Programs/FreeBSD/7/bin/vim and G:\Programs\Windows\NT\vim\gvim.exe.


You can use ports, packages, or PBI to create the solution; but PBI make it a little harder. You can have everything pkg_add/pkg_delete/pkg_info and such use placed on your USB stick without ever touching your PC, and can manipulate them on that USB stick from any suitable FreeBSD machine, totally independantly. With a PBI, you have to install the files on your PC-BSD system, and copy the relevint files to your USB stick, and the management interface wasn't designed to handle anything outside the local systems Programs folder. So you are kind of on your own after that, the only plus is everything you need should be in the PBIs folder and hidden folders in Programs; documentation probably hasn't caught up but it is easy to explore how it all works.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:57 PM
gaffer gaffer is offline
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Default Re: Portable Applications in BSD
Portable apps (Windows) should leave the registry untouched, or it wouldn't be truly portable.

Windows users will be already familiar with these:
http://www.liberkey.com/en/
http://www.portablefreeware.com/
http://portableapps.com/apps

I found piddling few (but its a start) w/ Linux:
http://www.portools.com/
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Old 10-27-2009, 10:56 PM
TerryP TerryP is offline
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Default Re: Portable Applications in BSD
Let me phrase simply: many things that go in the Windows registry could just as easily be stored with the .exe for portability; UNIX programmers do the latter and have done so for over 30 years.
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Old 10-28-2009, 12:07 AM
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Default Re: Portable Applications in BSD
Originally Posted by TerryP
Let me phrase simply: many things that go in the Windows registry could just as easily be stored with the .exe for portability;
Agreed. The portable apps that I linked to are all examples of programs that leave the Windows Registry untouched.

Originally Posted by TerryP
UNIX programmers do the latter and have done so for over 30 years.
But apparently, you won't find a lot (at least that I know of) of applications where they are all set for the user to just download and unzip a file and then simply run the program from within that folder. The other ways of installing require fetching a bunch of other stuff and compiling.

The Apple way of dragging/dropping seems to be the easiest way of installing a program.

The PBI (or EPI programs) sound theoretically possible to be portable since the PBI should have all needed dependencies figured out already, but I haven't personally tried it.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:39 AM
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Default Re: Portable Applications in BSD
Originally Posted by gaffer
Agreed. The portable apps that I linked to are all examples of programs that leave the Windows Registry untouched.
Umm...actually they don't. A portable app doesn't leave registry entries behind except those automatically generated by Windows. Every .exe launched in WinXP (and later) will result in a corresponding entry in the WINDOWS\Prefetch folder.

Originally Posted by gaffer
But apparently, you won't find a lot (at least that I know of) of applications where they are all set for the user to just download and unzip a file and then simply run the program from within that folder. The other ways of installing require fetching a bunch of other stuff and compiling.
Ever tried syncing your PDA or iPod to your Linux or PC-BSD computer? These are actual examples of portable apps.

Originally Posted by gaffer
The Apple way of dragging/dropping seems to be the easiest way of installing a program.
What the...? It's a great way of moving files not installing them. I can just imagine someone trying to move a file and accidentally installing an application. It has been a while since I used a Mac and frankly I didn't like it. It's just a desperate attempt by Apple to set another stupid trend.

Originally Posted by gaffer
The PBI (or EPI programs) sound theoretically possible to be portable since the PBI should have all needed dependencies figured out already, but I haven't personally tried it.
It's a work in progress.
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