Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Essential Software for Thumbdrives? 65

MaufTarkie asks: "My manager just handed me a 256 megabyte thumbdrive. I already know about UnixKit for Windows and the WEP Key Generator Utility for Wi-Fi Networks, but I'm interesting in hearing what other people are putting on their drives. My drive will potentially touch a range of systems (Windows, Unix, and MacOS X), so any software is fair game. What are some essential tools I can (should) put on this?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Essential Software for Thumbdrives?

Comments Filter:
  • by .milfox ( 75510 ) on Friday September 03, 2004 @09:06PM (#10154795)
    PuTTY. Don't leave home without it.

    Also, a VNC client and a X server works too.
  • My List (Score:3, Informative)

    by keiferb ( 267153 ) on Friday September 03, 2004 @09:10PM (#10154813) Homepage
    VNC (client and server)
    MS Remote Desktop Client
    • Re:My List (Score:3, Informative)

      UNIX/Windows Text editor
      Hex editor
      A decent dictionary file
      My resume (backups of course ;-)
      Manuals of common equipment-or addons to equipment you know you work on
      PDF reader
      Semi-common Wi-Fi drivers (hate to not be able to network computers)
  • Firefox! (Score:3, Informative)

    by vandalman ( 746235 ) on Friday September 03, 2004 @09:11PM (#10154816) Don't leave home without it!
  • 256MB you might as well put Cygwin on it. It gotten to the point that's the first thing I install on any windows machine I have to work with.
    • by \\ ( 118555 )
      How do you get around Cygwin requiring registry additions to function properly? I find installing Cygwin on my usb keychain is worthless for random machines that have different drive configurations, or that I don't have Admin access to. Pretty annoying.
  • Firefox is an absolute must. It just pains me every time I go somewhere and my only choice is IE. Firefox can be run of a pen drive very easily.
  • by brianjcain ( 622084 ) on Friday September 03, 2004 @09:15PM (#10154833) Journal
    Everything from sysinternals [], 7-Zip [], VNC, PuTTY, ClamWin [], etc.
  • unxutils (Score:3, Informative)

    by \\ ( 118555 ) on Friday September 03, 2004 @09:43PM (#10154942) Homepage
    unxutils [] is great, doesn't require windows registry crap like cygwin does.

    also, this topic is a dupe from like.. last year or so. someone will find the url..
  • Lynx and Pine for both Windows and *nix. You can surpringly still surf a great number of websites successfully under Lynx. Install them both on the thumb. I'm 99.99% sure they don't use the registry. Also a good idea to back up your bookmarks (home and work), so you'll have them everything. If you help out other people (IE family), it's a good idea to have things like AdAware and/or Spybot S&D on there, along with AVG (free windows anti-virus). Your resume in various formats is also a great thing to
    • Do people still keep bookmarks? I'd be interested to see what pages people find worthy of bookmarking-- I gave up on the concept after losing my bookmarks back in the pre-firebird days.

      Any site worth revisiting I type the name of in my address bar and let googles I'mFeelingLucky do its magic.
      • i keep hundreds of bookmarks.

        I also export them when i remmber, and back them up to a txt file too.

        I have quite an extensive filing set, but not to many as to get confusing. To keep it tidy, i trim it when i back it up.
  • Anti spyware (Score:2, Informative)

    by Laser Dan ( 707106 )
    Adaware and Spybot S&D.

    I have them on my flash drive and I nearly always end up using them whenever I go to any friends houses.

  • I remember when when the most important utility I needed for a Mac was SCSI Probe
    • Re:Nastalga (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I remember when Nastalga was spelled Nostaliga.

      The good ol' days.
      • Re:Nastalga (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Better yet, I remember when Nostaliga was speeled NOSTALGIA!
  • Essentials (Score:3, Informative)

    by zaphodchak ( 644557 ) on Friday September 03, 2004 @10:13PM (#10155094)
    I take a list of HTTP port 80 proxies, Firefox, several 64k, 4k, and 256b demoscene demos (i.e. Farbrausch), copies of 7-zip and UPX, a hex editor, SectorSpy, another data recovery tool,a couple of alternative file explorers, Dr. Delete and DSdel for deleting files, puTTY, a bunch of NirSoft apps, Media Player Classic, Paint Shop Pro 6, a ramdrive app, some process and services viewers, some gimmicky little password finders/revealers (i.e. stores password viewer and some asterisk-revealers) various other programs, a directory, and a little tool for changing the resolution through command line (indispensable), as well as a few other porgrams. It fits in around 40 megs, or will after I import my Firefox profile, and get it to run directly from the thumbdrive without creating a mess on the c drive. I plan to put some more stuff on there, but the secret to getting all that stuff into 40 megs is compression. Play around with settings. All the programs are UPX-ed, all the folders/archives are 7-zipped. I may change this later, but it works pretty well for now. (Caveat: Simply 7-zipping an exe will result in a lower filesize than first UPX-ing and then 7-zipping, however, you have to deal with a large decompressed filesize.) Also, remember to delete useless files, like install logs (you won't be uninstalling anything from your thumbdrive) help files (if you don't need them, they can be bulky) etc. Remember to keep a hard copy on your hard drive of the programs you put on your thumbdrive, in case you mess it up, which has happened to me a couple of times. I'll have to watch this thread to see what you guys are putting on yours. I'll be adding more stuff, mine's a 128MB, but I'm trying to pack it as tight as possible.
    • Re:Essentials (Score:2, Insightful)

      by james11111 ( 804249 )
      Which: hex editor, ramdrive app,process and services viewers, gimmicky little password finders/revealers, various other programs, a directory, and little tool for changing the resolution through command line.
  • I know that if you go to all the links, it will explain what each one does, but could you please provide a few words next to each software you recommend so that we know what each of them is? I don't feel like visiting every single link on this page if most of them will not interest me.
  • -Firefox, as suggested by several others (now in a convenient pre-tweaked for portability format [])
    -Trillian, which runs off a thumbdrive easily, though you do have to edit trillian.ini every time the drive letter changes).
  • Viruses? (Score:2, Insightful)

    If managers are 'handing these drives to people' at random, leading to people asking slashdot what they should stick on them, clearly it's time for some malcontents to write some sort of cross platform malware to use said drives as vectors.

    I'm not advocating this, but it's what generally happens when storage devices are bandied about aimlessly, and that's what 'managers' are doing here.
    • Re:Viruses? (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Ironic that you would post a plan like this with a user name like yours.
  • Short-ish list (Score:4, Interesting)

    by magefile ( 776388 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @01:10AM (#10155876)
    -puTTY - terminals should be available on any Unix-ish or Mac-ish comp., but in case you're in an Apple store (where Terminal is locked off), maybe a Mac SSH client, too

    -Firefox - shameless self-promotion: here's my quick, easy, robust way of getting Firefox to work on a USB drive: Firefox@York. Note that this not only allows you to have extensions (which some portability how-tos don't), but you can use the same profile for the Mac, Windows and Unix versions of Firefox (diff binaries, same profile).

    -Adaware and Spybot. Maybe a ClamAV or AVG installer

    -Useful links - I have Trend Micro's "House Call" online virus scan [], Windows Update,, etc.

    -Perhaps a POP3 or IMAP client like Thunderbird? Or even a full-fledged PIM, depending on size

    -A list of CD keys for all your software

    The next thing to go on my drive will be Open Office. Only one binary (I think), since it's Java-based, but getting it down to size and getting it to understand that it's on a portable drive will be the challenges.
    • I have found nPop [] to be the greatest little POP3 reader on the planet.

      Small size and big functionality = Essential place on thumbdrive

      Would also stick on Trillian [] (windows only, but handy none the less if you are that way inclined). Thanks to those with the Firefox information too!!

    • The next thing to go on my drive will be Open Office. Only one binary (I think), since it's Java-based, but ...

      Heheh! Actually OpenOffice is written in C++, not Java. []

      But it feels like a Java app, doesn't it? Also both Java and OpenOffice were slower earlier and have been speeding up at roughly similar rates. :)
  • by Zork the Almighty ( 599344 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @03:29AM (#10156245) Journal
    Fill the USB drive with local exploits. You may also want a small FTP server and IRC bot.
  • by DocSnyder ( 10755 ) on Saturday September 04, 2004 @05:02AM (#10156434)
    "Swiss Army Knife" distributions like tomsrtbt or a modified Debian bootdisk fit well onto an even small thumbdrive. They are very useful for fresh installations or to make a system with fscked LILO table bootable. Larger USB sticks can take a Knoppix distro.

    On the host side, "mtools" provide easy access onto the thumbdrive. Just chgrp floppy /dev/sda, edit /etc/mtools.conf to map drive A: to /dev/sda and access the USB stick with "mdir", "mcopy" etc. like a (nowadays unneeded) floppy drive without mounting it.

  • Maybe TrueCrypt []?
  • ultimate boot CD (Score:4, Informative)

    by Clover_Kicker ( 20761 ) <> on Saturday September 04, 2004 @04:19PM (#10158750)
    Take a look at the tools bundled in the Ultimate Boot CD [].

    There's a DOS mode virus checker, some RAM checkers, Linux rescue boot disks, partition tools, HD wipers, and all kinds of good stuff.

    Hell, you may consider putting the compressed ISO on your key, 'tis only 57MB.

  • I put Linux on mine. RUNT Linux is a USB based linux distribution. on a 256 MB drive, it will only take up half the drive leaving the rest available for storing other useful files and programs. I've found that having a USB bootable linux distro on me at all times is very helpful on many occastion. Check it out. A new version is due out very soon.
    • RUNT is perfect for this purpose. It stands for Resnet USB Network Tester, so the name says it all. After all, when you think about it, sometimes a Linux distro is actually the best utility. In the past I would often use a bootable CD distro like Knoppix as a diagnostic and rescue utility. But it means having the disc onhand, which I don't always. But since RUNT works from a USB Flash drive, I can keep it on my keychain at all times. If the system supports USB boot, you're golden! But even if it does
  • All the tools from major LiveCD distros eg. tinyLinux, Toms Boot disk etc.
  • I tote Antivir XP (no I don't work for them ;) around on my miniscule 64mb thumbdrive (Freebie from Micro$loth :) []

    its free, its pretty small and its databases are updated fairly regularly.
  • Ok, I got a 64 meg one for my b-day. So I was wondering what apps I would need on there. I was thinking of taking a small 50meg distro and redoing it to fit my needs. and add a lil more to fill up the whole thumbdrive.
  • This is more aimed at those of us who always end up repairing all your non-tech friends PC's.

    1. WinImage Self Extracting images of
    a) Ghost 2003 Bootdisk, Drive imager also burns CDR, DVDR, Zip and external USB 2.0
    b) Ghost 2003 Bootdisk, Drive imager also burns CDR, DVDR, Zip and external USB 1.1
    c) Windows 98 Emergency Startup Disk
    d) Windows 98 Bootable disk with GDisk plus batch files.
    2. Mozilla
    3. ZoneAlarm Free Version
    4. AVG Antivirus Free Version
    5. Ad Aware Free Version
    6. Winsock Repair f
  • On mine (Score:2, Informative)

    by Yablo ( 98362 )
    CDEX []
    IRFanView []
    Winamp []
    iTunes []
    FireFox [] w/AdBlock and various other extensions
    Some music []
    Assorted pictures
    Spybot [] & AdAware []
    XP SP2 []
    DefilerPak []
    Novell VPN client []
    Citrix client []
    Farbrausch demos []
    PuTTY []
    and the all-important XEvil []
  • Tiny Apps (Score:3, Informative)

    by sysadmn ( 29788 ) <.sysadmn. .at.> on Tuesday September 07, 2004 @10:47AM (#10176759) Homepage
    Windows users should also see
  • What about morphix? It's a knoppix derivative and I'm not sure how much it takes up but you should be able to find a configured version that runs right off of a 256Mb drive like that. Then you could have all of the above utils PLUS a full linux distro! Personally, I can't wait for 1Gb drives to hit the $40-$50 range.
  • The story contains the wrong URL for the Unixkit for Windows [].

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety = 1000 nail-bytes