Windows only: Free application Portable Ubuntu for Windows runs an entire Linux operating system as a Windows application. As if that weren’t cool enough, it’s portable, so you can carry it on your thumb drive.
Built from the same guts as the andLinux system that lets you seamlessly run Linux apps on your Windows desktop, Portable Ubuntu is a stand-alone package that runs a fairly standard (i.e. orange-colored, GNOME-based) version of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution. It just doesn’t bother creating its own desktop, and puts all its windows inside your Windows, er, windows.
The coolest parts about Portable Ubuntu are:
- It actually works (in most cases, on most systems).
- It fits on a (larger) thumb drive and can run entirely from it.
- It can work on, and save to, your Windows folders and files.
- It’s persistent, so changes you make and apps you install are carried around with you.
- It’s easily manageable from Windows, and works great on dual monitors.
Wanna give it a go? Grab the latest Portable Ubuntu package (about 438MB as of this writing), then double-click to unpack it to a folder. On Vista or Windows 7, you’ll have to open your command prompt as an administrator (hit Windows key, type in cmd, then right-click on the “Command Prompt” option that appears and select “Run as Administrator”); on XP, you’ll probably just have to launch a command prompt. Head to the folder where you extracted your Portable Ubuntu, and enter run_portable_ubuntu and hit Enter to launch the .bat script. Your machine will whir and decompress for a while, and you’ll likely get a few prompts to “Unblock” coLinux and a few other apps’ abilities on your system. Unblock all of them, and you’ll eventually get a small, move-able menu bar on your desktop, as seen in the top screenshot. Drag this wherever it’s comfortable to keep it, and you’re on your way.
Portable Ubuntu is a free, portable download that runs from Windows systems only. Drop your Linux-inside-Windows ideas and other geeky stuff in the comments.