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Time to say Goodbye ...........

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robertcampbell
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Time to say Goodbye ...........

Hi everyone,

After close to 3 years of using PortableApps it is time for Me to say goodbye. Ive had several problems in the past and I received more support from the community then from the actual owner/developer of this software. In fact the majority of his replies were that my drive was failing. Im here to tell You that my drive that I have been using for PA and I am still using right now is and has been working fine the entire time with 0 read/write errors and that the problem is/was indeed with the PortableApps program itself.

Furthermore, the majority of apps/programs that are even worth using already have a portable version/option and the repackaged PortableApps version isnt even needed. I found this strange that PortableApps would repackage software that was already portable into their own custom portable package/install. This led Me to believe there was more going on here and in fact after some research I found backlinks and other things that raise some pretty serious privacy concerns for Me.

For awhile though I just decided to be careful how and for what I used these apps with so that I could minimize the data being sent to PortableApps servers through the launcher. This changed recently when PortableApps decided to brand the launcher and apps with even more branding and making apps install into custom "PortableApps.com" program folders. This in combination with data being sent back to PortableApps servers is simply too much for Me to handle.

If You use this program/launcher for a few programs that are not personally identifiable or information/mission critical You might be fine continuing to use this; but, for Me and my needs the data collection, new repackaged/branded launcher, and slow downloading/installing of apps has gotten to the point that I can no longer use this program.

I considered just opening a new post for each issue that I had but let's face it ....... Most apps that are worth using now a days already have a portable/standalone version and for the ones that dont there are probably better/newer options available.

So after using the same drive for almost 3 years with PortableApps and being told that most the errors/problems were due to my "faulty" drive which I still use daily AND the fact that the new launcher, apps, and the way the installer now installs into a branded folder I can no longer recommended or even use PortableApps anylonger.

To the community here I wish You all the best and thanks for the time You took answering my questions in the past. I also urge You to look into other options for Your portable needs as I mentioned previously more and more apps are being released with a portable version as standard. No longer is the need to send information back to PortableApps.com.

- Wish You all the best.

SimonGeek
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I agree with you but a few clarifications

Hi, I'm a simple user like you. I decided to answer you to express my personal experience, especially since I have encountered some things you said. I too have been using PortableApps for years, mainly to keep the registry as clean as possible. I confirm that the support in the forum is rather poor, you are often ignored for no apparent reason.

On the availability of natively "Portable" versions, some clarifications must be made. Even if they are classified as such by the authors themselves, often they are not. Many of them, therefore, are "Standalone" and not "Portable". "Portable" differs from "Standalone" in that the latter leaves junk on your PC instead of storing data in its own folder. If you are looking for "natively portable" softwares, I recommend "The Portable Freeware Collection", paying attention to the descriptions that guarantee "portability".

I too, like you, have noticed that PA.c "repackages" software even when there is no need for it, but maybe they do it to automatically catalog them on the Platform.

As for the "blacklists" I haven't found any around, maybe you have read the opinions expressed by managers of similar sites. I don't allow myself to get into the merits of course.

If you are concerned about your privacy, you can also disable automatic updates in the Platform settings.
UPDATE:Keep in mind that software updates are important to close any security vulnerabilities.

Launchers, as you indicated, have indeed changed and they are auto-generated by the "Generator" and don't include "all the code" like in the past (i.e. launcher.nsi, plugins, header functions, etc.).

So, I understand your decision.

UPDATE: I agree with John T. Haller that unfounded accusations should not be made. Despite what I wrote, I have great faith in PortableApps.com. This and a few others can be considered safe sites, many others (always from personal experience) are full of malware (especially trojans) and some are also Closed Source.

John T. Haller
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Clarification

I checked your comment history and the bulk of what you referenced is regarding a single thread about two years ago: https://portableapps.com/node/61713

In that thread, you were having an issue with LibreOffice Portable's installer hanging about 1/2 way through. You were also looking to see if there were a way to cleanly cancel a failed install. I explained that it was not possible to do this as NSIS, which the PA.c Installer is based on, does not support it internally and it would require quite a bit of work to do so. I also explained that the most likely culprit was a drive overheating. I've seen about 1/2 a dozen such examples over the last 19 years of working on this project and it can happen even to name brand drives. You stated that this only happened with LibreOffice, which lent further likelihood to it being the drive overheating issue. NSIS will fail when there is a drive error without retrying and intermittent drive errors are likely when some element of a drive (usually the controller) gets a bit too hot. Of course, I can't be sure, but I recommended getting a new drive in the hopes it would avoid you losing data in the future.

There was another thread where you'd said that Chrome wasn't updating properly. I fixed it and replied to your issue that it was working properly an hour and 29 minutes later.

Those two comment threads are the sum total of all the interactions we have had.

Much of the rest of what you state above is not correct. And it can be verified by third parties, even by yourself.

"This changed recently when PortableApps decided to brand the launcher and apps with even more branding and making apps install into custom "PortableApps.com" program folders. This in combination with data being sent back to PortableApps servers is simply too much for Me to handle."

There have been no changes to the default locations of our app installs or the paths supported by the PA.c Installer in well over a decade. There is no surreptitious data collection going on and you can review all the code for the PA.c Platform, Launcher, Updater/App Store, Backup/Restore and Installer as all 5 are open source with the code licensed under the GPL. I make all of this code available so everyone can review for themselves that what I state is true. Along with all the other benefits of the GPL.

"This led Me to believe there was more going on here and in fact after some research I found backlinks and other things that raise some pretty serious privacy concerns for Me."

You seem keen to imply some sort of nefariousness is going on while at the same time not stating what it is you are implying. I'm unsure why. I've been running this project for almost 19 years now. It's always been open source. You can verify all of it going back in the code history at any time you'd like.

As for app repackaging, a good percentage of our apps make available a zip version of their apps. Often pieces of the app will break as you move paths (most recently used files, plugins/themes, etc). Sometimes the settings themselves are saved on each PC or they leave significant things behind. Our definition of portable doesn't permit things like this. And our portable package does have other benefits: https://portableapps.com/about/what_is_a_portable_app#whypaf

If you only use the apps on a single machine or don't care about the other portability issues, there's no issue with using a zipped version or one extracted using something like 7-Zip Portable or Uniextract. A site like Portable Freeware Collection will be a good resource for that. I participate in the forums there and update listings there as well.

The only issue that has been an ongoing one is some locations experiencing slower downloads at certain times. This is due to the SourceForge worldwide network of download mirrors donated by various universities and network providers that will sometimes have problems. This isn't something we can control but I do have a backup internal set of download servers I can manually switch to in the event of major outages. This was used during the most recent SF mirroring issue on Jan 18/19 when global downloads of everything released after Oct 2021 began failing. There may be some residual issues on some SF mirrors for a few days.

You're free to use whatever software you'd like. And you're free to use our software with third party launchers. You're also free to use non-PAF apps with our platform without issue. But please refrain from making unfounded accusations.

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

robertcampbell
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Well ....

Correct; I suggested a cancel install option because LibreOffice would hang and never install properly. You explained it wasnt possible which; in my opinion is a flaw not a feature. I was having to just pull my usb drive when installs would hang which would cause errors. I have even let it install overnight and into the next day with no difference. If its not possible to cancel installs due to NSIS then I would consider thinking of a different way to remedy this because all it takes is one hung install to wipe a drive when it cant be safely removed.

The drive is fine and wasnt/isnt overheating. If you have only seen (6) cases of this in 19 years then I dont even see how You would imply (more then once) that its probably my drive that was at fault and not the app or installer (which at least in the case of the Chrome install was the problem; not the drive)

The install path did in fact definately change at some point because I never had a branded Portableapps.com folder that these apps were being installed into before the update. Essentially You replaced the "Programs" or "App" install folders with one branded "Portableapps.com"

There are repackaged apps on this site which already have a portable version so I could only speculate on why You would repackage them if not to add Your own branding.

If You can tell which apps I have installed on my portable drive/PA Launcher then You can also tell more information about how I use those apps and that bothers Me.

Each repackaged app that You offer for download/use does in fact have a backlink to PA.

I will look into the Portable Freeware Collection.

I didnt come here to say that PA is spyware or nefarious but I did say that since the new launcher it bothers/worries Me that everything is backlinked and just knowing which apps I have installed on my drive (regardless of what/how I use them) bothers Me also. If PA knows I have the PA packaged Chrome installed for example then Im not sure whats stopping it from sending my usage history back to PA as well.

Finally, I never really had an issue with PA's download speed. I mentioned the install speed was slow; sometimes taking upwards of an hour to finish downloading and installing larger programs like Libre or Thunderbird etc. Im using a 3.0 drive in a 3.0 capable port and while its not the fastest version available on the market the speeds of USB 3.0 are definately not the bottleneck.

I voiced my experience and my concerns. I didnt start a thread saying that PA spys on everyone and that PA is this or that. I posted my issues that I had and my opinion on those issues based on the solution/outcome. I do also personally think it has too much branding.

That aside You mentioned using non-PAF apps with this platform. How? Is it possible for Me to take any app and add it to the PA platform or did You mean that I could simutaniously have PA launcher and other programs installed seperatly on the same drive? That would be something I would look into.

- Regards

John T. Haller
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Additional Details

The issue you had with Chrome in topic 63919 was due to an incorrect hash in the updater database. The platform's updater downloads the installer without issue but the downloaded installer didn't match the hash that it was expecting, so it (correctly) tells you it is invalid and can't be installed. Essentially an incomplete installer mirrored out to SourceForge's servers. This issue is unrelated to the issue you experienced with LibreOffice.

Your issue with LibreOffice is indicative of a hardware issue with the drive. This is not uncommon even in name-brand drives. Several variants of the Sandisk Fit, for example, are reported to get hot enough to crash or corrupt files. USB 3.0 doesn't tell us anything about the drive other than that it can connect via the USB 3.0 protocol. It doesn't say anything about the flash memory used (SLC, MLC, TLC, QLC), how it handles caching if it does at all (many drives will use a pseudo-SLC cache), or what kind of flash memory controller it uses. Most flash drives are meant for low-duty use and the rated speeds listed are for large file transfers like a 5MB+ file. When installing something like LibreOffice, you're copying over 18,000 small files which is a LOT more work for the USB flash drive. A name brand USB 3.0 drive that advertises itself as 190 Megabytes Per Second may only see about 0.5 Megabytes Per Second when doing lots of random writes. Yes, that's not a typo, that's a real world test of a drive only getting 0.26% of its rated speed. It may start off fast while it's using its pseudo cache but slow to a crawl when it fills it up while trying to transfer files out.

The default install path for apps has been X:\PortableApps or similar since about 2008. The install path for the PortableApps.com Platform (Menu, Updater/App Store, Backup/Restore) has been X:\PortableApps\PortableApps.com since about 2009. Nothing has changed in either respect since you began using our software. If you'd like, you can download PortableApps.com Platform 1.5 to verify the platform setup. It was posted and digitally signed on March 6, 2009. You can also download PortableApps.com Installer 0.91.0 to verify the installer setup. It was posted and digitally signed on May 28, 2009. Earlier versions are also available from our SourceForge but weren't yet digitally signed.

Initially, we used splash screens on all apps due to the slowness of USB1/2. Our standard now is more based on the work going in and the speed of launching. The ones with the Mozilla apps, for example, are a part of our licensing agreement so users know to look to us first for support of portable-related issues. Same with our agreement with The Document Foundation for LibreOffice. Even without tons of complicated stuff when we just use an existing environment variable supplied by the base app or a command line switch but are still adjusting paths, we'll leave off a splash but still include our name in the help file. We don't want end users going to a publisher for a packaging error we made. We also link to the base project within and to their donations page, which we place before ours by policy. If a user loves an app, donate to the publisher. If they love that we helped make it portable, donate to both, perhaps. We do this same arrangement on the site for the app pages as well.

If you're unfamiliar, NSIS is the second or third most popular installer software on Windows. It was originally written for winamp by nullsoft, the publisher. But it was open source, so it grew far beyond there. If a local app installer is not packaged as an MSI (or an EXE containing an MSI), it's most likely written in NSIS. Ever install Firefox? NSIS. Same with foobar2000, Thunderbird, Inkscape, etc. Most of the apps we package that have local installers use NSIS for their local installer. Unfortunately, NSIS doesn't have a way to cleanly cancel half way through an install of an app. There are ways to enable the cancel button, which in and of itself requires some work to handle, pause the installer, and confirm with the user, but no way to then rollback the changes. There is a topic discussing this on their wiki if you're curious.

As for tracking, the PortableApps.com Platform doesn't report back what software you have installed to us. You can read the code and verify this yourself (or hire a developer to do the same), if you'd like. It's all open source. The only thing we currently pass back is your Windows version and whether there was a TLS hack employed on Windows XP/Vista so we can setup the most secure download possible. And we track that a unique download was made when you download an app though this isn't tied to your platform install or to you. Fun fact: Any piece of software you run on your PC can get a full list of every piece of software on your PC due to the way the Windows security model works unless it's a sandboxed app from the Microsoft App Store.

Portable Freeware Collection is handy and indexes apps that are portable mostly from the publishers themselves. They list out how portable an app is. In their nomenclature, they have a term called 'stealth' which is equivalent to our definition of what a portable app should be allowed to leave behind. They also list whether an app is portable on movement, something we require. Some users from here also participate on PFC's forums and vice versa. I linked to a useful thread of theirs in our Windows XP/Vista/7 Compatible App Packages topic, for instance, as they've been cataloging stuff there, too.

If you'd like to run non-PA.c Format apps and have them in your PA.c Platform, you just have to install them in a location similar to your other PA.c Format apps. Check out this support topic here: https://portableapps.com/support/platform#addingotherapps

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

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