Having spent the last year newly encountering encryption, and of course GnuPG, and its various implementations as a portable user, I have to insist a true portable implementation is desperately needed. The base install for Gpg4Win touts itself as portable capable, and can be installed to USB using the mkportable.exe with the code. Without installing anything on the HDD, I cannot get this to work, nor is it a true, clean front end. Gpg4Win I loathed, found unnecessarily messy and disconnected. I also looked at a little package, woefully outdated, that someone made called Gpg-2-Go, and this fails to function from its .bat file unless the old Gpg v.1 files are used, and it is ensconced in the installation folder and encrypts files stored there. Finally, there is the Portable Apps version, the portable base code for GnuPG for use by Thunderbird and Seamonkey, which illustrates what in my view is one of the typical misassumptions being made, i.e. that an implementation of the software should be incorprated into other software, typically email clients. I also found Thunderbird/Enigmail depositing key files on the HDD while used portably, a disaster. I prefer to use GnuPG in its original form, via command line, which I have learned, but so far I have found this impossible without installing GnuPG on the HDD.
Technically, encryption software like GnuPG is similar to a compression codec, pointing at a file of any kind (and GnuPG can be used to encrypt files of all kinds, including compressed folders or media files, utterly overlooked by its email implementation) and transforming it into another kind of file, in this case via password or keys. Clean compression software has been around for ever, and in my view the ideal app would be something like WinRAR, or Portable App's own 7Zip Portable, a simple front end, ideally with an additional command line view allowing for typed commands and terminal feedback otherwise, with a simple explorer for selecting files and a minimal toolbar for creating, importing and listing keys (key management), signing, detached signing and encrypting, symmertical encrypting (via password only), cipher selection (dropdown list, perhaps), ascii toggle, and keyserver functions, with the full toolset handled within a single interface and including the power of command line operation. Like Thunderbird and Seamonkey portable such a front end would operate with the GnuPG base files. Keys would remain accessible to users, allowing them to be located, moved and imported for each use if desired.
What I find bizarre is that no one has approached the issue in this way, and that the implementations for what is now the most common form of encryption are so shakey and troubled, at least where portable usage is concerned. Portable implementation in some ways highlights many of the security issues with which encryption software is concerned, since it avoids permanent HDD installations or data by definition, though potentially exposing users to foreign computer systems, though this need not be the case if one elects to use encryption software from an external drive like a USB key even when using home computers or portable devices like netbooks.
As it is I tend to reserve GnuPG usage for a different OS, currently unable to use the software portably with Windows in a manner I find satisfactory (or in fact at all).
I would love it if someone would create the ideal GnuPG portable implementation, clean, command line capable, base file dependent, and completely host system independent. Please consider.
Any useful recommendations, meanwhile, would be appreciated.