PortableApps.com Debuts Freeware Portable Apps

John T. Haller's picture
Submitted by John T. Haller on October 22, 2009 - 11:59am

PortableApps.com Flash DrivePortableApps.com, the world's most popular portable software platform, is proud to announce the debut of freeware packaged in PortableApps.com Format. The freeware releases began with the releases of 2X Client Portable, FreeCommander Portable, Google Chrome Portable, SpyDLLRemover Portable and Skype Portable in the last day. The release will continue with IcoFX, XMPlay and many other popular software titles.

The decision to add freeware to our lineup is the result of months of work and is part of our overall strategy to ensure that a single, open source, open development, open format portable environment remains the industry standard.

Read on for more details...

Freeware Publishers Welcome, Commercial Publishers Contact Us

PortableApps.com Format, the standard for portable software, is now available for third party freeware and open source software publishers to package in. The full details on the format and the installer are available in the PortableApps.com Development Section. Because of our unique dual-licensing, publishers can package their freeware applications in our open source installer without needing to change their applications or licensing. Freeware publishers can begin packaging their apps in PortableApps.com Format today and contact us for listing in the PortableApps.com Directory. Commercial publishers will be able to do the same soon, just contact us for details.

PortableApps.com Itself Remains 100% Open Source

The most frequent question people ask is whether this means PortableApps.com is switching to a closed source model for our utilities, platform, installer and other tools. The answer is absolutely not. We believe open source is the best model to provide our software and to ensure the continued reliability, security, feature enhancements and flexibility of our platform. That means that the PortableApps.com Platform (including the menu, backup utility and upcoming updater), the PortableApps.com Installer, the upcoming universal launcher and all our other tools remain 100% open source, all under the GPL, and will remain so. Even the full PortableApps.com Suite remains 100% open source software.

Why Closed Source Software Is Important to Open Source Platforms

The next question some people ask is, "If you're so committed to open source, then why add freeware to the PortableApps.com lineup?" There are a few reasons. First off, there are several applications that do not have a full-featured open source equivalent, especially on Windows. So, it makes sense to ensure that people have access to the software they need to get through their day.

The second reason is that excluding freeware and commercial software from an open platform is a bad idea. As portable software becomes more popular, more and more software publishers of both open and closed source software have expressed interest in releasing portable packages. If PortableApps.com was closed to freeware and commercial software, the publishers would simply look for another venue that would accept their offerings. As we've seen, that venue will usually be a closed-source, possibly hardware-locked, encumbered one that is hostile to open source software. As more software moves to it, more publishers on both sides become interested in it until you're left with fewer choices. It can even happen where open source projects only release their software in the closed format because that's where they believe the most users are. We've seen this happen in the past and we want to ensure that it won't happen again.

The final reason is because it's the right thing to do. Keeping an open platform and allowing all software to compete on a level playing field just makes sense. Many users have some 'favorite' software of theirs and they won't consider moving to a platform that doesn't have it, no matter how logical your argument that X software is nearly equivalent. This is one of the reasons so many users who don't know much (or don't care much) about open source refuse to move to Linux. "It doesn't have PhotoShop. I can't play my favorite games." What if Linux *did* have PhotoShop and their favorite games? That's one of the reasons software companies should be encouraged to write software for Linux (and PortableApps.com), regardless of license or pricing.

Users Who Want to Can Still Have 100% Open Source

For users who wish to use only open source software, we will soon be debuting a new PortableApps.com Directory that will let you filter the application listings to only show open source software. Currently, freeware is clearly marked as such. The upcoming PortableApps.com Updater (also open source) that will allow you to update all your software will have a setting allowing you to select whether to show all software or only open source software. It's similar to picking your 'universe' in Ubuntu's software utility.

Download Today

You'll find our new freeware offerings in the PortableApps.com Applications Directory available today. Additional apps will be posted as they are announced. Download some new software today!

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computerfreaker's picture

Been waiting a long time for this - YAY!!!! Biggrin
*New Year-style mood*
*tosses confetti*

Keep up the great work, John! You rock!!! Biggrin

"The question I would like to know, is the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. All we know about it is that the Answer is Forty-two, which is a little aggravating."

You guys just made my month, if not the whole year!

Great! Fantastic! Excellent work! PA.c really is shaping the future--changing the way people use computers.

Limits are for people with no imagination.

Hello John;

I like the plan for PortableApps Platform's future. It sure seems you and others have put alot of thought into it. I personally like two of your reasons and have two personal ones. Some things are just not available in open source. The other is that I can select to ignore anything other then open source if I choose to do so. Lastly your plateform and the software I use from this site are outstanding. If not they are not released until they are. The standards are that high. I only use two programs that are not from PortableApps.com. It makes sense for other programs wanting to get into portable do so with this platform. I would hate to see multiple platforms that would make a person have to decide on which one to use because of the programs that run under it. The last few lines are my own thoughts.

Frank D. Hubeny

purpler's picture

really awesome, keep up filling the apps database Smile
maybe some day Adobe or MS contact you to portabilize some of their software Smile

Thank you John (and everyone) !

I think you did the right thing (once again :)). Officially supporting freeware may be the best thing to do to keep user using an OS platform.

Until now, I could not make my choice between :
1- Open Source / 100% Legal but Limited choice / No Updates
2- Close Source / Barelly legal but Huge choice / Automatic Updates

But as soon as updater will be released, it will be the best of 1 and 2 Smile

Thank you again for this great work

NathanJ79's picture

This is the best news all day! Chrome and Skype, others... PortableApps moving closer toward mainstream. This is big... wasn't some major OS to be released today? Hmm... Nothing new from Fedora... Ubuntu 9.10 is still a week away... must not be anything worth a crap... So yeah, great news, guys!

And it's great to see portable freeware legally released. Time for some catch-up!

computerfreaker's picture

Time for some catch-up!
WOW, is PA.c ever doing that. What's the level now, 20-25 apps in 2 weeks?? Somebody opened the floodgates... and freeware apps too!! Biggrin
I feel like I'm dreaming...

"The question I would like to know, is the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. All we know about it is that the Answer is Forty-two, which is a little aggravating."

qwertymodo's picture

This announcement is the end result of WHY those 20-25 apps have been held back, John was obviously busy working on, well, THIS. And yes, it's amazing Biggrin

Quamquam omniam nescio, nec nihil scio.

horusofoz's picture

No doubt there has been a huge amount of work going into this and a lot of patience on your behalf in listening to users impatience waiting for official freeware portables. So well done John. This is awesome. Straight up awesome 8)

PortableApps.com Advocate

That link just reloads the same page.

Anyway, does all of this mean you can finally give Winamp Portable its own listing now?

BTW, there are many semi-portable freewares, in the sense that they don't require installation but do write to the registry. I can name some if you want to give them PortableApps versions.

Darkbee's picture

There's also plenty of Freeware that doesn't require installation AND doesn't write to the registry. Surely those would be even more prime candidates for portabilazation? Smile (ClipX is one example I can think of off the top of my head, and maybe ColorCop too)

OliverK's picture

once its official released, yeah

Too many lonely hearts in the real world
Too many bridges you can burn
Too many tables you can't turn
Don't wanna live my life in the real world


Thank you for your hard work and thanks to all people who are helping and contributing to PortableApps.com

John you are setting very good example about the true meaning of the Open Platform. I, as you, believe that Open Source Model is the best, but it is not the only model available. By providing "open" access to PA for everyone you are creating opportunity for commercial software to compete with FOSS and the winner will be the users.


This app is a zip type utility specifically for one file type: SF2 files, which are from the soundblaster and they're used for making soundfonts (the SF in SF2), which are a collection of audio samples.


This app is very intrusive on the registry, taking over extensions that other apps should control. I tried using thinapp, but upon running the thinapp version, it blows up followed by dr watson.

I tried to use the portableapps nsis, but I failed miserably. I guess I need a tutorial, if there are any please post a link.

qwertymodo's picture

Very intrusive = very difficult. You can go ahead and ask, but it should go in the request apps forum.

...and welcome to PortableApps.com Smile

Quamquam omniam nescio, nec nihil scio.

Darkbee's picture

This is certainly taking PA.c in an interesting direction, and I think for the most part a positive direction. John has given some solid arguments as to why PA.c should broaden its horizons, seems sound reasoning to me.

On the plus side, I'm hoping that I'll eventually be able to get ALL my portable apps from one location because there are still quite a few freeware apps I'm using not in the PA.c format. One that I'm really excited about it XMplay, which is a superb MP3/Audio/Media player, that easily surpasses Winamp and others in playback quality.

I think maintaining my entire portable apps collection is about to get a whole lot easier! Smile

Hi! Does this mean Juice will now move out of Development as a portable release?


Also, as practicality was mentioned as one of the reasons to accommodate freeware, may I request that the current Portable Menu have support for groups to help with organising all these applications we're gonna install?


computerfreaker's picture

Does this mean Juice will now move out of Development as a portable release?
And the SysInternals launchers? And Camstudio? I use both the SysInternals launchers & Camstudio, and both are great... Smile

"The question I would like to know, is the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. All we know about it is that the Answer is Forty-two, which is a little aggravating."

OliverK's picture

Camstudio is NOT ready. I need to work on those . . . .

Too many lonely hearts in the real world
Too many bridges you can burn
Too many tables you can't turn
Don't wanna live my life in the real world

I wanted to put in my two cents worth and tell you "Thanks!"

In my mind, the PortableApps intent (and programs) were the best available for drive portability and protection from registry entries.

Although not as important, integration with the menu system and the data backup system are both a plus. My thinking on this is that these two categories have other options, so they aren't essential.

Yet there was always a desire to check out freeware apps that they (someone else, or some other web site) said were "portable". In a lot of cases, they might have been portable in one way or another, or maybe just gentle on the registry. We have been taking a bit of a risk with these.

Doing freeware here with all the features of PortableApps.com will certainly eliminate the "wandering" by offering us more options right here in a protected environment.

Again, thanks!

neutron1132 (at) usa (dot) com

How does the upgrade work? Is it automatic?

For example with uTorrent, when 1.8.5 is released will YOU update it so we simply need to d/l the launcher again to reinstall and update to 1.8.5 automatically?

The reason I ask is that its a little more complicated with Skype. Before the official portable release, I had to download the skype installation and do a full install then use the portable launcher to move the setup to the portableapps directory, after that I was able to uninstall the original setup.

What I want to know is will this be an automatic setup just as if upgrading say Firefox Portable? Will I lose my settings/contacts/etc?



Live for an ideal and leave no place in the mind for anything else.

From PortableApps you will have to install the latest and it will overwrite the old one. All your settings will be preserved. Anyone can correct me if I am wrong.


Dagenham's picture

Great news, really, I've been waiting for this a long-long time. Thanks for the "update".

Sorry if this was already asked. Could you add an offline install option to the installers for freeware portable apps? This would really help users who likes using download managers (like me :-)).

John T. Haller's picture

Nope, it's necessary due to licensing. Any packages or suites with them bundles are illegal.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Would this condition not depend on the individual app being packaged. "Closed-source" only directly implies the source-code is not available with the app, it does not necessarily mean repackaging/modfication/redistribution is prohibited (even if this is convention - it's not set in stone).

John T. Haller's picture

It depends, but the way copyright law works, you have no right to modify, repackage or to even redistribute an unaltered copy of a piece of software UNLESS you have been given the right to. Even if an app is given away for free (as in no cost) by a publisher, you can't even give a copy of it to a friend unless they say it's ok. OSI-certified open source licenses give you this right.

Most freeware licenses (and they are ALL different) give you the right to give an unaltered copy of the installer to someone else (aka, share it). Hardly any (as in less than 1% of the ones I've seen) give you the right to modify it or repackage it outside the standard installer, which is necessary to package it portably or include it in a suite of applications. So, the sites that are repackaging things without permission are actually in violation of copyright law, in violation of the app's EULA and often in violation of trademark law as well.

Unlike those sites, we actually do things legally around here. That's why we have permission from folks like Mozilla, TeamViewer GmbH, 2X Software Ltd., Foxit Corporation, Marik Jasinski (FreeCommander), Adam Atomic (Canabalt), Attila Kovrig (IcoFX), Pierre.e Gougelet (XnView), Rootkit Analytics (SpyDLLRemover) and others to repackage their software as portable and release it.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

...for your detailed reply. I was however well aware that such rights are not implied in any way without an open source licence, that wasn't my suggestion in any way.

I was only speaking of apps that do explicitly allow redistribution. As you say this is less than 1% of apps you've seen (I haven't researched it so I don't know, but I'm very surprised it's as low as that), but I know of at least one - that is the Opera internet browser, which is distributed by at least 2 other individuals (Markus Obermair and Archetwist) under the Opera Composer Distribution Agreement.

That's the only single example I'm aware of in any detail, and you may be right that it's a "less than 1%" case, but it's one. I'm sure there's at least a few others out there amongst the many great closed source apps in development.

(P.S. Thanks for the list of companies you've agreements with too, it's interesting. I didn't realise you had a repackaged XnView here... [goes off to find it and download it])

John T. Haller's picture

Opera requires a special distribution license to modify and redistribute a portable version (permission from Opera and you signing an agreement agreeing to specific terms and use). Opera@USB/Markus has such special permission directly from Opera.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

computerfreaker's picture

Hi John!

Know I've asked about this one before, but now PA.c is doing freeware so maybe this time... if not, no worries Smile

Can you do Safari now, maybe? Or is Apple still being difficult? Blum

"The question I would like to know, is the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. All we know about it is that the Answer is Forty-two, which is a little aggravating."

I'm really only interested in the open source programs. And I think having things like uTorrent might slow the inclusion of better open source alternatives like Deluge or Halite. Frankly, I think there should be a whole separate site for corporate cra, I mean software.

Put all violators of the Constitution in jail.

Wow, that's interesting. And from their website:

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group Announces Revolutionary Deal to Publish Legal Film and TV Content using the BitTorrent Platform

BitTorrent’s agreement with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to prevent film piracy and promote innovation in online digital distribution of content.

Toshiba is better to the environment than a lot of common electronic companies. Check out Greenpeace's Guide To Greener Electronics 8)

Awesome!! Biggrin Good to know PortableApps is still 100% Open Source.

No links in signatures - mod Chris

A few months ago I got a U3 drive, simply because it had Skype, which I needed for work. U3 is annoying as hell, the way it has that extra "CD partition" and the way it automatically pops up, but I needed Skype.

So when I saw that I can now get Skype on PortableApps (not to mention Google Chrome and uTorrent) I was ecstatic! Now I can finally delete that U3 filth off my memory stick Biggrin

Good work! Love you guys.

I have this folder in my computer with PortableApps stuff. It has been growing by leaps and bounds, even though I don't download everything. It's starting to become a bit hard to remember exactly what is what, so I had to split it into categories lately.

Now there is this new fact, that there are freeware apps too. I for one welcome them -- no more ugly hacks to run Skype, for instance. But... not all of those are immediately evident as freeware (FreeCommander is a good example of a freeware that can easily be mistaken for free software). And for some people, this is an issue.

I dislike using separate folders for freeware; it's not a distinction based on what the software does. So, I was thinking... now that the installers have standardized icons, instead of using the app icon... what about using a *slightly different* installer icon for freeware? For instance, changing the color of the USB drive on the icon? That would make it easy to tell apart the freeware from the free/open source software. Maybe a third color (greyscale?) for early, not-ready-for-prime-time releases would be a good option too.

John T. Haller's picture

There's really no reason to if people have already downloaded it. The distinction is far more important before they do. That's why in the app directory, all freeware is clearly marked as such. All announcements state it in the first paragraph and via a tag (Open Source Releases vs Freeware Release).

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Darkbee's picture

Do you care once you've downloaded them? If you're (not you personally but in general) so offended by non open-source software then you're probably unlikely to download it in the first place.

In my case, I try where possible to use open source software but if I can't find a viable open source app then I look to freeware. I have a number of useful freeware applications that I'm not ready to let go of yet! Smile However, I certainly don't care to differentiate once I've downloaded them. Whether it's an open source browser or a freeware one, it goes in my "Internet" category. Actually, I mirror the PA.c categories almost exactly.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Wow i check again my favorite software no post in there. . . . But good job for this. But in sometimes i download pa. In there but is corrupt but my dta is complete. Please correct it no corrupt before upload or post , john. But john quickly to bring information and reupload and improve or repair it with quickly! Great job for john and member portableapp very nice to build portableapp! And like freeware software?

Andibad, i interesting about this portable app website and great can save all file to my flashdisk 2-8 gb and no file in host computer, i like that.

It's good to see an open-source project that values 'software freedom' for users rather than sticking to an exclusive 'free software' policy. Kudos to PortableApps!

richard.a's picture

I would like to add my personal sigh of relief about sanity prevailing, if I may.

I fall into the seldom listened-to group of Linux advocates who uses Windows and Windows apps and have been berated frequently for (for example) daring to suggest "Start Menu" mods to look and feel like MS Windows are acceptable in OS to attract non Windows users to *nix platforms.

In my personalised PortableApps I have succesfully integrated the following closed source items which I use a lot of the time. I am typing this on an AcerAspireOne with a dedicated PA flash card in the 2nd slot so I don't clutter up the tiny computer with "stuff"...

ISP's monthly usage meter (MUM for Internode)
QuickVerse Bible Translations
mIRC chat clients
PDF Creator
PaintShopPro ver 3
RegClean and RegCleanr
RealVNC viewer and server
TightVNC viewer and server
"Some Text" PDF conversion utilities

From my USB Scanner bundle:
PhotoStudio 2000
OmniPagePro OCR

So well done guys to promote the idea of choosing the user chooses Smile

As a non-guru, non-geek, as I opened, the much needed sanity really has got to prevail in this area. For too long "opensource only" has been the dominating demand of those who are noisy on slashdot

Again, well done chaps.

Richard in Australia
where we fix things that break with fence wire

Have you noticed editing is always needed for the inevitable typos that weren't there when you hit the "post" button?

Just saw this announcement now and signed up to the site immediately. Great to see this announced finally. Was a regular visitor to portableapps.com years ago - kinda became disenchanted with the site at the time because of this limitation - glad to see sanity prevail.

(Ironically, the captcha I was given on registering for the site read "rms"... spooky.)

I'm very happy by this announcement. It means a greater selection, not just all the wonderful points that were made. I will be able to struggle less, as well.

I suppose I do have a question though. Are the rules for submission the same as they are for Open Source apps? Or is there more leeway...like say we package it, submit it, and you request permission for it? Or is it still governed by the type of license? I ask because its dizzying trying to keep up with what you can do with whatever freeware is being enjoyed.


Whether from God or from man, the best things in life often come in small packages! -- Sr. Mina, BSP.

kirbylover4000's picture

Its nice to see you now have freeware. Firefox Portable Edition is a good browser, but I enjoy Google Chrome Portable more now. I am happy to also see 2X, FreeCommander and Skype portable, i use them regularly and it helps to have them on my usb drive when i'm away from my main computers and need to chat to someone on Skype, for instance. Again, good job!

This is an airconditioned room - Do not open Windows!

I like Google Chrome, although I find myself continuing to use FireFox portable.
But I would absolutely love to use SketchUp in a portable setup. Any chances on that?

What about freeware that is no longer supported by the developer, either because the developer is no longer in business or cause they only released the one version as freeware and they no longer support said version because they have a newer version? can someone(like myself) portablize an app like this and have you guys host it here?

John T. Haller's picture

When freeware goes dead, copyright law is still in effect. You need the copyright-holder's permission to repackage/redistribute something. That's one of the disadvantages of freeware vs open source.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

so any freeware that i come across that i would like to portablize i need to make sure i get permission to repackage it at the very least.(well, so that i can legaly post it here that is...)

NathanJ79's picture

Yep. Well... you can repackage it for your own use, pretty sure the copyright cops won't bust your door down, but it is contrary to the conditions of the typical Freeware license.

Redistributing however, no, PortableApps.com won't condone posting a freeware app without permission from the developer.

but i could post the launcher for the app until such time as i receive permission to repackage/redistribute said app. correct?

John T. Haller's picture

Launchers are a handy way to accomplish that.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!