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(Updated 10-15-11) PortableDesktop

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stifiling
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(Updated 10-15-11) PortableDesktop

Tested on Windows 7, Windows 7 64, Windows 7 64 vlited, Vista, Windows XP sp3, Windows XP sp3 nlited, Administrator and Guest accounts

(10-15-11)
A safety recovery mechanism is now included. If someone leaves the machine in portable desktop mode, and disconnects their portable device from the machine...the recovery mechanism will execute amongst a restart and return the computer to normal. Restarting is probably one of the first things the computer owner would do if they came to their machine and see it's not quite right.

(10-13-11)
I made a few more adjustments. The program can now be installed anywhere on your portable device. You can rearrange the files and folders into any exsisting, or new folders, or how ever you choose.

I also didn't want the program to come off as being competition to the geek/portableapps menu so using the wallpaper and menu function is optional. If you'd like to use PortableDesktop's wallpaper swapper, add a bitmap named 'pdwallpaper.bmp'. If you want to use the wallpaper and the start menu add or rename a bitmap to 'pdmenuwallpaper.bmp'. Either one or the other. If you have two bitmaps with both names...pdwallpaper.bmp will take precedence. If neither exists the host's wallpaper will be used.

(10-9-11)
I've updated the program.

-64 & 32 bit
-PortableApps (Programs) folder integrated in the Windows start menu
-Wallpaper Swapper
-Keeps Host's desktop icons at their original positions

I wrote in the wallpaper swapper function because I couldn't figure out a way to exit the PortableApps/GeekMenu and execute the HostDesktop.exe program in one click, without leaving the host computer with a different wallpaper. That dominoed into including the function of having the programs visible in the Windows start menu.

Anyone wants any features disabled, or modded versions, let me know.

(3-10-11)
Tested on Windows 7, Vista, and XP

About 150kbs

Install program to the root of removable drive. X:\

Fixed issue with having to be executed from the root of removable drive. Must be ran from X:\PortableApps\PortableDesktop\PortableDesktop.exe

Fixed issue with program icons, installed for 'All Users' being visible on your Portable Desktop.

Put together much better than before.

I happen to like my original version over the PortableENV/Open Desktop version. Not because I made it. I think it works better.

Please try it. Please leave any comments, errors, or suggestions...

(Jan 2, 2010)
Any help, modifications, feedback, mishaps, drawbacks, etc. is definitely welcome.

This was tested on XP & Vista using both, Administrator and Guest accounts.

Install to the root of your flash drive. "X:\"

Your flash drive's, soon to be, desktop icons/files/shortcuts should be in X:\Documents\Desktop

To switch to your portable desktop you'll launch the .exe in root (which must remain) or from your menu.

To switch back to the original computer owner's desktop environment launch HostDesktop.exe either from your newly visible desktop icon, or from your menu.

And that's it. Kind of reminds one of Mojopac, but better. Best to have it autorun w/your menu for the full effect. Using the PortableApps menu wallpaper swapper feature, adds on really nicely as well.

Would be nice to get it to auto-switch back to HostDesktop amongst exit, but you have to manually do it otherwise the computer will look for a folder that is no longer there.

Once again any help is invited, appreciated, and wanted.

This program is Superb! But without a shadow of a doubt, still definitely room for improvement.

(screenshots)
PortableDesktop
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6366812/PortableDesktop.jpg

PortableDesktop Start Menu
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6366812/PortableDesktopStartMenu.jpg

HostDesktop
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/6366812/hostdesktop.jpg

(source)
http://cid-6d272f24aa8e012e.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/PortableD...

(Download)
http://www.mediafire.com/?d9b4kxkzczdd3sf

agdurrette
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screen shot?

Is there a screen shot so I can see what it looks like?

"It's just an online installer. It's not going to mug you.", JTH
"The shell is the key to unlock Linux's greatest advantages."

computerfreaker
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Pretty nice!

Is this for real? I tried running it from my HD, but nothing happened. Copied it to a flash drive, and still nothing. Copied all the files to the root of the flash drive, and still nothing.
I'm probably just getting the folder structure wrong or something...

EDIT: finally got it, after re-reading the original post. Sorry...

agdurrette, there isn't really a screenshot per se - it appears to just modify the host desktop.

EDIT 2: Pretty nice!
Any plans for it? I've got a bug and a couple of RFE's already...

"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."

agdurrette
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Sory about that, I did not

Sory about that, I did not explain my question well.

@ stifiling
Sorry for not trusting you.
Considering you just made a account I wanted to see if you actually have something and not a trojan.

"It's just an online installer. It's not going to mug you.", JTH
"The shell is the key to unlock Linux's greatest advantages."

computerfreaker
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I wondered the same thing,

I wondered the same thing, agdurrette, but my virus scanner (Microsoft Forefront Client Security) says it's clean.
I'm uploading to VirusTotal right now, just to be on the safe side.

EDIT: VirusTotal just scanned D.exe so far, and three AV's have already flagged it. Probably a FP due to UPX being used, but I won't guarantee anything.
https://www.virustotal.com/analisis/62d3c93dd99e6f218cb0293ccdc662baa1ff...

stifiling, I'd like to see the source for this... (in fact, IIRC, your upload will be removed unless you include source with it)

"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."

computerfreaker
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VirusTotal

"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."

agdurrette
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Looks safe, and it sounds

Looks safe, and it sounds cool i will test and let you know what i find.

"It's just an online installer. It's not going to mug you.", JTH
"The shell is the key to unlock Linux's greatest advantages."

alanbcohen
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okay, what is it?

My home systems have been Linux for several years but I use PortableApps for when I am without my own equipment. I have in the past used Mojopac, so I understand that, as it was. What is this? How is it used? Can it be setup/configured from a non-MS system, or is it limited to an MS environment?
edit: Thanks for the updates. You've included enough information for me to try the next time I'm at a public WinXP machine.

stifiling
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No, no viruses lol. They are

No, no viruses lol. They are really just .bat scripts converted to .exe. Are these the files that are considered 'source'? I'll upload them now. As far as working on linux...i'm almost certain it won't. I haven't tried it yet but will. Just can't play out in my head how WINE could display a windows based 'deskop environment' which is really just editing the registry....on a linux box. Maybe so though, for WINE can do some amazing things. Won't know till i try.

(source files)
http://cid-6d272f24aa8e012e.skydrive.live.com/self.aspx/Public/Portable%...

computerfreaker
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yep, those are the source

yep, those are the source files. Thanks for posting!

I can confirm that those scripts are clean; although they aren't portable (they change a Registry entry), they are very useful.

Thanks for posting those!

"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."

stifiling
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True. they are editing the

True. they are editing the registry, so can't call them portable. but they are changing the registry back, so can't call them not portable either. Either way, nothing else i've come across is seeming to work as well. and i've tried everything. running a VM is slow and ridiculous just to have a feature so small as this. Even Mojopac is virtualization, better then a VM, but still virtualization, and this is absolutely not. Mojopac also doesn't work on Vista. and as of right now I'm assuming this technique doesn't either "jus yet".

I just thought it was a feature a lot wanted, and so far, 'in my view' this is the best yet.

gluxon
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This isn't secure. It doesn't

This isn't secure. It doesn't change back to the original desktop at all. I didn't try it, but that's true according to the source code. I already had part of this done, anyway. Only I couldn't find any way to backup the desktop icon locations. So I didn't release it.

https://portableapps.com/node/18749
Solanus had the idea, and I made part of the program.

No offense, but this really looks like the work of a computer newbie. Give NSIS a try instead of using bat files.

Edit: Okay, I wasn't exactly saying YOU were a newbie, I'm saying that you could probably do a better job.

stifiling
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Gluxon, it works man. try it.

Gluxon, it works man. try it. and you hit the nail on the head...an absolutely fresh out of the womb newbie. i know computers very, very well but have never veered off into anything close to this.

I'm asking for help with it. whatever will make it more secure or what not, i'm all for. but if you follow the layout i have illustrated in the first post, you will see that it does indeed work, ON VISTA TOO!!

if you look at the screenshots, you'll see that it works, and when u're done...if you switch back to 'Host Desktop' it will absolutely put the original icons back on the original desktop.

I saw the thread that you linked to, and tried everything in there. Deskwin, Quickwaytofolders, cylog toolbox, blackbox, everything. None of them, 'in my view' are working as good as this.

gluxon
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You know what? You might be a

You know what? Thanks for not using this comment. "tell him ALL his work looks like the work of a computer newbie, and that he shouldn't lecture people if he can't do better himself", though most people in your situation would.

Consider learning NSIS. The language is basically built for doing stuff like this.

gluxon
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To clarify, I didn't link to

To clarify, I didn't link to any of those programs. The people in the thread did.

stifiling
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Gluxon, just try it. it

Gluxon, just try it. it works. even on non-administrator accounts. On XP & Vista. I see your name all over the place in the forums and with that being the case, you have seniority here and get respect from me. will be honored for you to at least try it and give your feedback afterwards. Positive or Negative. I'm a big boy, i can handle it.

As you can see and I as well....nothing i've done here is "Albert Einstein" rocket science. all very minor, ticky tack lil alterations. And when you look at the big picture, that should be all it takes to switch a desktop environment. For the job at hand (simply switching to a desktop environment on your flash drive), Mojopac, virtualbox, and so on...are overkills. doing way, way too much to accomplish something so small. correct?

solanus
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This does need a bit of work to be viable

It's not at all in the correct PA format, and you have two separate folders that are installed - your nircmd folder should be a subfolder of the app folder.
Also, it adds too many unnecessary icons into the menu - I really don't want to have D, E, G, H, I, J, and Host Desktop icons. That's 7 new icons!
It would be better if there was one app that could detect the drive letter of the flash drive and use that in a variable.
Also, it really doesn't fit in with the PortableApps.com definition of portable, since it's way too easy to forget to switch it back to the Host desktop.
Check out what happens if you don't switch it back, then eject the drive, and reboot. Windows is NOT happy, and the next user that logs on will not know what is wrong; the potential for problems is pretty high.

I know it SHOULD be simple, and I've tried something similar in the past, but there are basic reasons why this can't be portable.
1. The registry and batch files don't support relative paths.
2. Direct registry changes using regedit are persistent.

I think your basic premise is good, and you are right that the other programs are overkill. But gluxon also has a point - many of the portable apps launchers on this site have the ability to make registry changes that only persist while the app is running, and automatically revert when it closes; and they routinely turn absolute paths to relative. These launchers are written in NSIS.

Since NSIS can overcome both of the reasons I listed, you should be able to use it to implement your idea with only one exe, and have it revert to the host settings on exit.

Take a look at the source codes of some of the launchers here, you should be able to work out the code you will need.

Good luck!

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

stifiling
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Solanus, do it for 'us' man.

Solanus, do it for 'us' man. I'm tired of thinkin about it. my eyes are hurting, my head is hurting. You and Gluxon (I emailed crazy2be as well) have the skills, and know how to take it to the next level. i was using the Deskskin app for a while. I'm not trying to be the genius of the year. i posted a project in hopes of community participation to perfect it.

i don't want a gold star, am not trying to compete or anything like that.

I really just want a portable desktop.

gluxon
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You know what, sorry, you

You know what, sorry, you kind of caught me in a bad mood, since there's all these repeated questions and spam ALL over the forums. I urge you to keep the app in your development.

One more thing, I read the whole post, which I should have done in the first place. Anybody that willingly chooses Linux over Windows is not a computer newbie.

Consider learning NSIS though, it has a Windows/WINE limitation, but you can go really far with it.

Alright, let me help you a bit. Drop into the PortableApps.com Chat sometime. I'm on almost all the time after school.

And guess what...

Welcome to PortableApps.com Smile

Bruce Pascoe
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Hell, for that matter,

Hell, for that matter, anybody that willingly chooses a specific OS period is not a computer newbie. Smile

solanus
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Oh, sorry if I came off too critical!!

Your concept is really the most logical approach to the issue!
Honestly, there's no reason this couldn't be a part of the menu someday - it would only take a minor mod of the code John used to do the background swap.

I think most devs could make this work. I'm willing to take a look at it and share any code that I come up with!

Thanks for getting this idea moving forward!

I made this half-pony, half-monkey monster to please you.

stifiling
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Thanks guys. That's all i

Thanks guys. That's all i wanted to hear. i will jump in the chat room and hopefully, together, we can eliminate a few of the remaining issues that have been mentioned. It's really just those last couple things that solanus mentioned left. auto-launching from one launcher, rather then manually launching from one of the numerous corresponding ones. and auto switching back to normal amongst exit.

dinosoep
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how is the work going on? is

how is the work going on?
is it possible to change the directory for one login session?

gluxon
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Well, I was thinking that we

Well, I was thinking that we really should have a better than "Portable Desktop"

I was thinking PortaDotty Blum

Stands for PortableApps.com Desktop of Tough Titanium Yummyness Blum

Bruce Pascoe
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Pointless acronym is

Pointless acronym is pointless. Blum

crazy2be
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What about PortableEnv?

What about PortableEnv? That's what i called my version.

tgrantt
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PAIP?

Why not Portable Improvements in Many Places?
Or Best Loved Interface Manipulation GUI? Smile

I am not my signature.

Bruce Pascoe
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Hehe.

PIMP!

But that second one (BLIMG) makes no sense. I'm guessing you were going for BLING or BLIMP, but you're off by one letter in either case. Blum

tgrantt
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Doh!

You'd think an English teacher would know the difference between N and M. You'd be wrong. Memo to self "Don't try to be funny. Don't try to be funny. Don't try...."

I am not my signature.

crazy2be
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Here's a C++ version...

...using the WIN32 API. I have been in contact with stifiling about this, and he has requested my help. As a result, i have made a couple of C++ programs to that deal with most of the current issues, but are still far from perfect, source is included:

>> Download

crazy2be
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Quick Fix

Quick Fix for the registry, it now uses the API. Should work properly when you log off, and much smoother.

>> Download

Bruce Pascoe
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Hm

Seems to work, except the positions of the original (local) icons are lost when switching back to the local desktop.

crazy2be
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It is possible to save the

It is possible to save the portion of the registry where it saves the icon positions and restore it with the folder, i just have to find out where that is...

gluxon
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Believe me, solanus and I

Believe me, solanus and I have been trying to find it for a while Blum

Bruce Pascoe
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I found it a while ago

I remember finding it in my own registry a while back, but I don't remember where it was now. Sad

Bruce Pascoe
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Hmm

I just realized the fatal flaw with this approach: Windows shortcuts use absolute paths. Therefore if you put any shortcuts to stuff on your drive on the portable desktop, they'll no longer work when you move to a different computer and the drive letter changes. Sad

crazy2be
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There are a few ways to get

There are a few ways to get around that, although none of them are particularly easy.

1. Replace the explorer desktop with something else, this could be accomplished with a customized Clickonic and a minimalistic LiteStep, while leaving the normal explorer shell open.

2. Do a scan for all .pif files when switching to the new desktop, and replace the old drive letter with the new one in all of them.

3. Have some kind of hook into explorer that makes it add shortcuts that don't actually exist, and are defined in an ini file or something.

gluxon
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Option 2 is the best I've

Option 2 is the best Smile

I've done that with Eclipse's tabs.
You can just copy the code. Smile

crazy2be
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The difficulty there is that

The difficulty there is that pif files are binary, so correctly parsing them could be a chalange. With LiteStepPortable, I created all of the shortcuts based on what was installed whenever the program was started, although this made the startup time significantly longer due to the data that then had to be written to the USB, and doesn't deal with user-defined shortcuts. Another option is having all of the shortcuts defined in an ini file, and have the shortcuts created from that, using relitive paths.

I'll have to take a look at the windows shortcut api, if I can find it...

gluxon
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Wait, .pif files? Don't you

Wait, .pif files? Don't you mean .lnk?

crazy2be
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Same comment applies . Pif

Same comment applies ;). Pif files would have to be dealt with as well, eventually, and lnk files are binary aswell. I wonder if we could use .URL files for relitive paths?

Here's a question: what if we had an "executable maker", a program that would make executables to launch programs by relitive paths? (that is, make the programs when the portable desktop is just launched). Then we would not have to do all of this stuff every load.

Also, on an unrelated note, the portable desktop does not work on one of my old windows computers, it comes up with errors that I can paste here later...

crazy2be
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Bingo

Looks like .url files are almost *exactly* what we need! You still have to use an absolute path, but the plaintext format is significantly easier to parse and modify.

[InternetShortcut]
URL=C:/Documents and Settings/crazy2be/Desktop/SpaceMonger.exe
IconFile=C:/Documents and Settings/crazy2be/Desktop/SpaceMonger.exe
IconIndex=0
HotKey=632
Modified=A08D686F8A99CA01F2

An example .url file is above. Since colons are not allowed anywhere in a file or directory name, we just have to load each file, find :/, and replace the character before each occurrence with the new drive letter.

Edit: I get the following errors trying to run this portable desktop on an old XP machine. I have verified the key does indeed exist, and is modifiable by me. It works on another XP machine of mine, just not this one.

---------------------------
PortableEnvListener
---------------------------
The handle is invalid.


---------------------------
OK   
---------------------------

---------------------------
PortableEnvListener
---------------------------
Cannot create a file when that file already exists.


---------------------------
OK   
---------------------------

*Explorer restarts*

Actually, it seems to work fine, just comes up with the errors. No idea why it comes up with the errors, however...

AtmanActive
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Good work

Crazy2be, this is good work. It actually works and it works very well.

The only thing that is still missing (for me) is some sort of path setting, either in some kind of GUI or some ini file. It should, of course, accept full relative paths like '..\..\SomeFolder\MyDesktop' and internally convert it to absolute path so it can be imported to registry.

I can see where is this going, it is very, very nice.

Keep up the good work!

crazy2be
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The plan is to have the path

The plan is to have the path set from a ini file relative to the drive root, since that is the way you want to set it 99% of the time. if you can come up with a good reason to use relative paths instead, i'm all for it. However, i think it would be confusing to the user if they moved the program and their desktop moved with it ;).

AtmanActive
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Not portable enough for me

I'm all against using just drive letter portability instead of true relative path portability. Here's why:

- I use my portable collections, which became like whole 'virtual ghost machines' from several different locations, including local hard drives and including having several of them on the same partition. I ***want*** to have, let's say:
D:\MyPortableApps\
and
D:\Just-Testing\version1\BugsBunnyApps\
and
D:\Just_Downloaded\My_Brothers_Apps\
and
D:\Upload_tomorrow\My_Sisters_Apps\
and
V:\
and want them all to work when started from inside their folders (not at the same time, of course). I'm using PStart and RocketDock to manage each of these collections, so PStart handles autostarting of everything inside that collection.

- By forcing only drive letter portability (like Appetizer does), folder structure is more or less forced to remain frozen, and in my humble opinion that is -1 on true portability. It also forces the user, more or less, to keep all of these 'important/autostarting/handling/managing' programs in the drive's root which clutters the tree and is unacceptable for me. I don't want to see, when I open my portable drive, all of the folders I'm working with and then just bellow them all of these 'do-this.exe', 'do-that.exe', 'fix-this.bat', 'fix-that.bat', and so on.

I believe that all PortableApps people should think outside the box, and do things that could work in all possible scenarios both imagined and unimagined Smile which is, for me, the very essence of portable computing idea.

Just my 2 cents.

crazy2be
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Well, you can subst.

You can use the subst command to mount these folders as virtual drives:
subst :

Of course, that's not an ideal solution. I don't want to set the ini file to take relative paths by default, since, as i said above, 99% of the time, people don't want their desktop to move, and just want it relative to the drive root. That leaves me with a couple options:
1. Have another setting in the ini that specifies the path is a relative path. Not ideal, because then relative paths don't "just work".
2. Prepend the drive letter if the path starts with a :, so something like
Desktop=:/Documents/Desktop
sets the desktop relative to the drive letter, and something like
Desktop=../Foo/Bar
sets the path as a relative path. Now, the question is what to do in a case like
Desktop=Documents/Desktop
Do you assume that as a relative path or as a path from the drive root? I would be temped to do the latter, and make it so the relative path equivalent is
Desktop=./Documents/Desktop

Also, thanks for the feedback. That's what keeps this thing alive and improving :P.

AtmanActive
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Do like Appetizer does

Appetizer uses this syntax:
($Drive)\PortableApps\Documents\Desktop

So, you could have a clear if...then...else case.

($Drive)\Take\Me\To\USB

..\..\..\Take\Me\To\Any\Path

If you need any help, just let me know. Graphics, icons, documentation, web space... you name it.

crazy2be
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You are right... i should

You are right... i should come up with a consistent, expandable, maintainable way to specify "relative to the root". The :/ or Beee solution is a lot easier to implement, but this is really the better solution. Just means that i won't finish that tonight :P.

crazy2be
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Well, i didn't finish it tonight.

But it's still early morning, so here you go. This version supports using $(Variables) (CASE SENSITIVE) in the ini file, the only builtin one is $(Drive), one usually equates to E:\. However, you can define your own:

[Main]
Var1=Foo
Var2=$(Var1)/Bar

Also, if the first non-whitespace character is a '#' or a ';', the line is considered a comment and ignored. Multi-line values are possible:

[Main]
MultiLine=P
O
D

However, none of the lines following the first one can contain an = sign, nor can their first non-whitespace character be ; or #.

One final thing before i provide the download: Be weary of using the \. (note in my examples, i use a /). At a later date, i may decide to make the \ into an escape character, as is the standard in most of the (non-windows) world.

>> Download 0.0.5

AtmanActive
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How would I do it

Well I don't know anything about C, my coding experiences include Perl, Javascript, Actionscript and AutoIt. So, maybe I'm just talking rubbish here, but then again maybe some of this can help you or inspire you in some way.

In Perl, strings are marked with $some_string and arrays with @some_array.

First I retrieve my exe's full path, I get this from Perl itself, so I have:
$my_path = "D:\here\there\who\what\my.exe"
and I have the one from ini:
$ini_path = "whatever"

I would check the sanity of ini path by:
if (length($ini_path) == 0) {die "no path supplied in ini file"}

Then, I use Perl's string split function which builds array from the string that is split:
@my_path_elements = split("\", $my_path)
@ini_path_elements = split("\", $ini_path)

First case, examine if the path supplied is an absolute one. Perl's 'chop' function returns the last character from a string.
$test_ini_path_drive = chop(@ini_path_elements[0])
if ($test_ini_path_drive == ":") {$destination_path = $ini_path}

Second case, examine if the special word ($Drive) was used, if yes, just replace drive letter with my exe's drive letter:
if (@ini_path_elements[0] == "($Drive)") {@ini_path_elements[0] = @my_path_elements[0]}
After that rebuild the path by joining:
$destination_path = join("\", @ini_path_elements)

Third case, full relative path reconstruction. I would do this by subtracting final number of my exe path's array elements for each ".." I find in ini path's elements. This would fail if the user inputs something like "MyFolder\Here\..\" but I would treat that as illegal and throw an error at the end by checking again if the destination path is sane. Perl's 'pop' function removes the last element from an array, and 'push' function adds a new element at the end of an array. So, I would walk the ini path array element by element. But before all that I need to get rid of my exe's path last element which is my exe's filename:
pop(@my_path_elements)
Now, let's go for a walk:
foreach $temp_element(@ini_path_elements) {
   if ($temp_element == "..") {pop(@my_path_elements)}
   else {push(@my_path_elements, $temp_element)}
}

After that rebuild the path by joining:
$destination_path = join("\", @my_path_elements)

That's it. After all this I would check once again if the destination path is a sane directory path and if yes - proceed, if no - die with an error.

I hope all of this can help you in any way on your quest.

I would recommend against character escaping with '\' and using '/' as path separator as this would definitely introduce confusion for the users of windows desktop world.

Perl coders: I'm aware that what I wrote here has syntax errors, character escaping errors, and could be done in a million more different ways. I just wrote it like that to make it as much as understandable as possible for most people, including ones that don't know Perl. So, please, deffer from correcting me Smile

crazy2be
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It's easier than i imagined

All i've done is create a $(Path) variable that you can perpend to a relative path (although it's not automatic yet). So:

Desktop=$(Path)../Foo/Bar

Would get you a relative path. I can upload that version later, right now i'm confused as to how to determine if it is a relative path. I guess i could scan for a :, and if none is found, then assume i have to perpend the $(Path).

EDIT: Actually, just searching for a : would be a bad idea, because then people would not be able to set the desktop to a location on a server, e.g. //Servername/share. I might just add the $(Path) variable, and leave it at that.

dragonmage
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Desktop=Documents\Desktop

I think it's pretty standard for that to mean "relative to the exe" The program would look for Documents\Desktop in the directory it is running from.

Stevoisiak
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Very nice looking

From what it sounds like, this looks to be an amazing program! However, I'm gonna wait a while to begin using this, because it sounds a bit buggy, and I REALLY don't want to screw up the school computers. Biggrin

Edit: I can test in Windows 7. I'm reseting the OS soon anyway, due to a fatal ubuntu bug involving the Grub update.

Simplifying daily life through technology

dinosoep
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very smart, I already screwed

very smart, I already screwed them up Smile
but I was able to recover it except for the little detail active desktop crashed and I am still trying to restore it.
its not the fault of this software, just uplugging it to early XD

crazy2be
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If you break it...

The original setting is stored in a reg file on the USB drive, Reg_Backup.reg. It should be saved in the working directory of the program (i'm not sure what the menu sets it to, if you are launching it from that. Otherwise, if you run it from explorer, it will be in the same folder as the program). As long as you don't run the program again, that will contain the original path, and double-clicking it should allow you to restore your original settings (for the desktop path that is).

crazy2be
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Few more updates - 0.0.4

Version 0.0.4, now a few fixes:
- Loads settings from ini file, currently only loads the directory that you want the desktop to be set to.
- Fixes shortcuts on the desktop to use the current drive letter, only works with .url files, since they are the only plaintext shortcut file format that i can find.
- Nice icons (well, maybe not *nice*, but they are better than the nothing that existed before).

The biggest thing that needs to be fixed now is that it doesn't save the position of the icons. This will be tricky to do for the mobile desktop, although i should be able to manage it for the host desktop (if i can reliably find the key).

Other than that, it would be nice if there was some way to get explorer to re-read the desktop registry key and update it's shortcuts without having to kill it and restart it, since it isn't very smooth right now.

>> Download

Pyromaniac
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No bugs were found that messed up the computer

But I was wondering how to edit desktop. I was going to read through all the posts but I gave up after half way.

I am using a public library computer by the way.

I was deleting the icons from the new desktop and found out that, after i switched the icons had gone away from the host desktop. (luckily they were in the recycling bin, so i restored them).

Just a heads up.

Great work by the way. I was making a desktop called PortableApps.com Desktop, which would integrate several programs together into one program. (I won't tell you which because I don't wanna spoil it.) Visit my website to learn more.

And to put it in PortableApps Format, just make a launcher: like this (in case you don't want to spend time on the real thing:


!define NAME "Portable Desktop"
!define FRIENDLYNAME "Portable Desktop"
!define APP "Portable Desktop"
!define VER "0.0.0.0"

Name "${NAME}"
OutFile "..\..\${NAME}.exe"
Icon "C:\icon.ico"
VIProductVersion "${VER}"
VIAddVersionKey ProductName "${FRIENDLYNAME}"
VIAddVersionKey FileDescription "${FRIENDLYNAME}"
VIAddVersionKey FileVersion "${VER}"
VIAddVersionKey ProductVersion "${VER}"
VIAddVersionKey OriginalFilename "${NAME}.exe"
!include TextFunc.nsh
!insertmacro GetParameters
CRCCheck On
WindowIcon Off
SilentInstall Silent
AutoCloseWindow True
RequestExecutionLevel user

Section "Main"
	${GetParameters} $0
	StrCmp $0 "" LaunchWithoutParameters LaunchWithParameters	
	
	LaunchWithoutParameters:
	
		newadvsplash::show /NOUNLOAD 1200 0 0 -1 "$EXEDIR\Other\Source\Portable Desktop.jpg"
		SetOutPath $EXEDIR\App\Portable Desktop
		ExecShell "open" "$EXEDIR\App\Portable Destop\Portable Desktop.exe" ;"/d ..\..\Data" SW_HIDE
		Goto TheEnd

	LaunchWithParameters:
	
		newadvsplash::show /NOUNLOAD 1200 0 0 -1 "$EXEDIR\Other\Source\Portable Desktop.jpg"
		SetOutPath $EXEDIR\App\Portable Desktop
		ExecShell "open" "$EXEDIR\App\Portable Desktop\Portable Desktop.exe" ;"/d ..\..\Data" SW_HIDE
		Goto TheEnd

	TheEnd:
	newadvsplash::STOP /WAIT
SectionEnd

And after you put it in PortableApps format, put your new post like this: https://portableapps.com/node/11965

Hope this helped

crazy2be
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Well, if they are *Local

Well, if they are *Local Computer* shortcuts, that is, they are in the "All Users" desktop, shortcuts that are seen on every desktop, then they will still be there after this program switches the *User* shortcuts over. Unfortunately, the only way i know of to get around this is modifying the Local Machine registry (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE), and most users won't have permission to modify that (or change the local computer shortcuts for that matter, i'm surprised you could on a public computer).

The other possibility is that something broke... Did some of the icons disappear? Or did you notice no change when you ran the program?

crazy2be
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Also, i don't see anything

Also, i don't see anything further about it on your website, only that it's "coming soon" :P. What were you going to integrate? I was going to make it so that this could change other shell folders too, My Documents for example. Wallpaper changing functionality is already provided by the menu.

Of course, you could go the whole way, and customize the taskbar, start menu, and programs menu, but then you are getting into something like LiteStep Portable, a nice program that very few people use because it's not especially user-friendly (it also looks ugly-- although i guess tastes change, given that i designed the original theme).

What is your plan? You can email/pm me if you want, c ra zy1 b e gmai l{.}com

Pyromaniac
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There was some freeware I was going to integrate

Yod'm 3D (it was going to be a download installer)

and the rest would be open source stuff.

I'll email you more details (I wanted to surprise everybody).

AtmanActive
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Icon Positions Research

In your quest to solve icon position misbehave, maybe this can be of some help:

DesktopOK

Maybe, watching the registry while this program works could give you some clues as to how it is done.
It looks like there are two different approaches for x86 and x64 (just my wild guess).

gluxon
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Solanus and I have already

Solanus and I have already tried that Cry

Nothing interesting popped up in the registry. It appears that Windows saves the icon locations on system shutdown.

AtmanActive
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...more research...

Some discussion and code on MSDN here:
http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/winforms/thread/d7df8a4d-f...

Some C++ source code here;
http://www.hyperbina.com/tech/blog/?p=16

A DLL built to help with this here:
http://www.nthelp.com/50/save_desktop_layout.htm

These guys mention a registry key:
http://www.winhelponline.com/blog/fix-desktop-icons-layout-not-saved-res...

... will keep researching...

crazy2be
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Great Info!

Using this, i can get the positions of all of the icons on the desktop before i kill explorer. However, in order to get it to load the positions again when it is started, i have to write to the desktop key that saves icon positions, and that is in a binary format whose contents are not immediately discernible. However, this puts us one step closer!

What i would be really interested in is a way to get explorer to "reload" the desktop, including the setting of the desktop key, without having to kill it and restart it. This would make the whole experience smoother for the user, and might even help us solve the icon positioning problem. However, when i looked for a solution to this, i only found solutions to reload the contents of the desktop folder, not reload it's location.

crownixx
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killing explorer

In AtmanActive post, the link winhelponline website provide a way to close the explorer.exe "politely".
Can you replicate that method instead of killing explorer.exe? Some articles in the website said killing explorer.exe is not a good idea unless we had too

crazy2be
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The teqnique described there is just about useless to me

Since it would involve some very elaborate fake keypresses and mouse clicks. However, the latest version *does* tell the shell to close before forcibly killing it (in case there are any remaining explorer processes). I might be able to do this a better way, although it would be significantly more complicated. Right now, i use the SendMessage API as described above (search for SendMessage on this page).

EDIT: Actually, i'm using a small version of what is described here, it will not correctly shut down explorer cleanly as i have it implemented if the filemanager is set to run in a different process. I'll work on that after i get icon positions properly saved.

crownixx
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Of course it is not good

Of course it is not good solution to use keypress and mouse click simulation to get the clean shut down explorer.exe
There is a way to do it programatically. You try the code below
PostMessage(FindWindow('Progman', 'Program Manager'), WM_QUIT, 0, 0);

Guys in this link made an observation what message Explorer sends as a response on Shift-Control-Alt+Cancel. They got the message as above.

In the webpage here

This is an undocumented solution to ask the explorer politely to close down and the explorer obeys. Windows itself uses this approach to close the explorer down. Using TerminateProcess can make things unstable, especially in win9x.

And the link here is the final question and answer to complete the technique of closing explorer.exe cleanly.

TIPS: If you can't read the answer given in the webpages above, try google the webpage. Then use the "Google Cached" to view the webpage. You will see the answer

crazy2be
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Allright, see if you can figure this one out.

Thanks to the links you gave, i managed to scrap together a program that gets all of the icons off of the desktop and outputs their names and positions to the console. The console output looks like:

Icon found at (23, 2). Index 0, name Recycle Bin
Icon found at (23, 83). Index 1, name Mozilla Firefox
Icon found at (23, 164). Index 2, name Notepad++

(yes, that is the entire output)
Now, the question is, how does this correspond to the registry key? The registry key meantioned throughout my research, your research, and any research i have seen by others is "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\1\Desktop". However, i cannot decern how the contents of this key are determined by explorer.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00


[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Shell\Bags\1\Desktop]
"Mode"=dword:00000001
"Sort"=dword:00000000
"SortDir"=dword:00000001
"Col"=dword:ffffffff
"ColInfo"=hex:00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,fd,df,df,fd,0f,\
00,04,00,20,00,10,00,00,00,28,00,00,00,00,00,01,00,00,00,02,00,00,00,03,00,\
00,00,b4,00,60,00,78,00,78,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,\
00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00,00
"FFlags"=dword:00000224
"ScrollPos920x674(1).x"=dword:00000000
"ScrollPos920x674(1).y"=dword:00000000
"ScrollPos784x682(1).x"=dword:00000000
"ScrollPos784x682(1).y"=dword:00000000

crazy2be
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Doy!

Why didn't i think of that before? Using the SendMessage() API call, i can simulate a shutdown event, and get explorer to save the icon positions. Then, i can do my swap, start explorer again, and use the same technique to change back to the host desktop. Shutting down explorer like this is decidedly simple:

HWND Explorer = FindWindow(NULL, _T("Program Manager"));
SendMessage(Explorer, WM_ENDSESSION, TRUE, ENDSESSION_LOGOFF);

Saving the registry keys might be a bit more annoying, i wonder if there is a built-in API function to save them...

crazy2be
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Nothing is ever that easy...

Well, in theory this should all work. However, i get totally bizarre errors than i can't find reference to elsewhere on the net. To make matters worse, the errors only happen *sometimes*. Sometimes i get the following error:

Access is denied.

Other times, i get

Only part of a ReadProcessMemory or WriteProcessMemory request was completed.

And still other times, i get any number (from 1-3) of the following errors, with one of the two above errors preceding.

The specified resource type cannot be found in the image file.

The even more confusing part is that ReadProcessMemory and WriteProcessMemory are not anywhere in my code... However, it still seems to work, the errors are just there to confuse you i guess...

If someone who knows what they are doing can take a look, it would be appreciated. Right now, i am tempted to simply ignore the errors (that is, don't check for them).

>> Download 0.0.6

gluxon
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For the name, what about

For the name, what about POD?

PortableApps.com's Open Desktop

crazy2be
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Actually, i kind of like that

Actually, i kind of like that name. It fits it well, as the acronym describes the product in a way. I mean, it's like a POD that stores your personal information. Only question is, what other programs use it already? I don't see anything conflicting on wikipedia, but we need to do research before a name is chosen.

Of course, that's just my opinion. Are there more name suggestions?

gluxon
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I haven't found anything

I haven't found anything conflicting with POD on google or anywhere.

Could I please have you email? Smile
Thanks.

crazy2be
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Click on my signature, i just

Click on my signature, i just added it.

computerfreaker
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Better obfuscate that image a

Better obfuscate that image a bit, maybe something captcha-style. That's pretty readable for an OCR, and bots are already "skilled" at breaking captchas, let alone plaintext.

"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."

crazy2be
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Is it better now? I figured

Is it better now? I figured an image was better than plaintext, since bots can undoubtedly get rid of spaces and replace with @ to find emails that way...

crownixx
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I don't have any name for

I don't have any name for suggestion but i would like to request from you to create a new topic for this tool. It is hard for us to get your latest PortableEnv as it could be anywhere in the post structure.

crazy2be
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Yeah, this one is getting a

Yeah, this one is getting a little crowded :P.

EDIT: New topic here

stifiling
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Updated.

Updated.

AlleyKat
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Win 7 x64 no go

This doesn't seem to work on Win7 x64 (Aero-based theme), run as user or admin. No errors, no nothing, just starts and ends with no visible reactions or feedback whatsoever.

Could be affected by my dual monitor setup I guess.

Not quite sure about the instructions - "run from root of drive", well, it doesn't end up in the root of the drive on installation? Tried copying the PortableDesktop.exe to the drive root, no difference.

stifiling
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Install the program to X:\ (X

Install the program to X:\ (X = Removable Drive's Letter)

it will install to the default location X:\PortableApps\PortableDesktop\PortableDesktop.exe

are you running it from that exact location?

I just tested this on Windows 7 32...and it's working.

AlleyKat
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Yup!

Yes sir, did that - drive I: here, and it did install properly to i:\PortableApps\PortableDesktop and show up in platform on update, was the first way I tested. Also made file in i:\Documents\Desktop\ (HostDesktop.exe).

I don't even see it showing up in task manager when clicking it in PA.c - simply nothing happens.

stifiling
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hmm...I'll have to wait till

hmm...I'll have to wait till I get to a machine with that OS, and make the necessary adjustments.

Starport592
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I really like this specific

I really like this specific program a lot. Like A LOT. Not sure how it'd go with ViruaWin though. I'm gunna try it right now Biggrin

"Welcome to the Internet, where men are men, women are men, and children are the FBI."
--Matthew Tam

"It is better to take what is not yours, than leave it there, neglected..."
--Mark Twain

Starport592
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Never mind

OMG It works great. THANK YOU SOO MUCH.

"Welcome to the Internet, where men are men, women are men, and children are the FBI."
--Matthew Tam

"It is better to take what is not yours, than leave it there, neglected..."
--Mark Twain

Starport592
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Return to normal on eject

Weeell, I don't know if this is allowed or not, but just a quick thing that I do when I use this program:

I have a program called "Eject USB.exe" and I renamed it "eject.exe" and went into the PortableApps/PortableApps.com/App/Bin folder and deleted the existing "eject.exe".

Then I replaced it with the new program.

That game me an idea. What if you wrote like a batch script that went like:

echo @echo off> volume.bat
echo set getdrv_=%%3>> volume.bat
dir | find "Volume"> go.bat
call go
if exist volume.bat del volume.bat
if exist go.bat del go.bat
::
rem show that we got it

start /w "" "%getdrv_%:/PortableApps/PortableDesktop/HostDesktop.exe"
start "" ""%getdrv_%:/PortableApps/Eject/Eject.exe"

exit

Then compile that into an exe with like bat to exe or something and make the directory local. Then when you hit the eject button on the portableapps.com menu it automatically changes back and then ejects.

"Welcome to the Internet, where men are men, women are men, and children are the FBI."
--Matthew Tam

"It is better to take what is not yours, than leave it there, neglected..."
--Mark Twain

stifiling
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i was trying a technique

i was trying a technique similar but what stopped the show was the fact that, if you're using the wallpaper feature from the geek/portableapps menu...it doesn't swap it back to the original wallpaper. Eject 'kills' the geekmenu program, leaving the wallpaper stuck.

I've been using a modded version of 'portable desktop' which does the wallpaper swap when you launch the program and switches it back when you launch host desktop..rather than using the integrated wallpaper feature from the menu.

thanks for the great reply as well. i didn't know anyone was still interested which is why i never veered off into trying to make it 64 bit.

Pyromaniac
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Tested latest version

And I have some questions/suggestions. First off, have you considered having it in PortableApps.com Format? That way, we can add it to our Menu and have PortableDesktop start automatically with the PortableApps.com Menu. I do like what you've done with it though. It was slower to start than I'd like it to be, but that's my only real criticism. Very nice, though.

Pyromaniac
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Download link

is gone.

stifiling
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Sorry about that. I'll put it

Sorry about that. I'll put it in PA format today. Want to ask you, when you say it's a lil slow, are you using usb 1.1 or 2.0? is the portable drive loaded with loads and loads of files? or not really too many?

Pyromaniac
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C:\

I didn't install it to my flash drive.

EDIT: Your new installer doesn't work either.

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