IT issues vary so much that you
may not know what tool you’ll need for any given project. For instance, you might need a portable antivirus, a
P2P client, a text editor, an office suite, a web browser, disk utilities, and so on. Collecting all of these tools on a single USB drive can be a long and arduous project. Thankfully, there are outstanding toolsets available like winPenPack.

Some of the applications available with winPenPack are:

Three versions of winPenPack

All three versions of winPenPack are open source and free.

  • Full: This is the “kitchen sink” version of winPenPack. It includes nearly every tool available for release.
  • Essentials: This is similar to the Full release, but
    larger applications are replaced with smaller tools that serve the same
    functionality (e.g., you get AbiWord instead of LibreOffice).
  • Personal: This is just the menu. You add
    applications as you need them or as you see fit.

Using winPenPack

There is no actual installation for winPenPack — you simply
download the zipped file of the version you want, unpack it, and move the
resultant folder (wpp_VERSION_RELEASE, where VERSION is either Full,
Essentials, or Personal, and RELEASE is the release number) onto your USB drive or your phone. With the folder on your USB drive, you can run the
winPenPackNet.exe executable to launch the program.

When you first run winPenPack, you will be asked to select a
language; as of this writing, there are only three choices: English, Spanish,
and Italian. Select your language, and the winPenPack menu will appear (Figure

Figure A

The WinPenPack menu in action.

When you start winPenPack, you will see a System Tray
icon. From that icon, you can gain access to the menu (by right-clicking the
icon), exit winPenPack, or exit and eject the USB device.

From the menu hierarchy of winPenPack, you can launch any of
the available applications. Let’s say you went the ala cart route with
the Personal version, and you need to add new applications to winPenPack. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Go to the WinPenPack Downloads page.
  2. Locate and download the application you want to
  3. Unpack the downloaded .zip file.
  4. Copy the newly created application folder in to
    the ROOT_FOLDER\Bin directory of your USB drive (where ROOT_FOLDER is the
    WinPenPack main folder, such as wpp_menu_net_2.8.70).
  5. Right-click the menu category you wish to place
    the application into (e.g., right-click Multimedia to add X-Avidemux).
  6. Select Add Software.
  7. Fill out the necessary information in the
    resultant window (Figure B).
  8. Click OK after you finish configuring the
  9. Test the newly created launcher by
    double-clicking it from its new winPenPack menu location.

Figure B

Creating a launcher for X-Avidemux.

If you don’t find a category that
matches the application to be added, you can create a new one in the menu
by right-clicking an empty area in the menu and selecting Add Category. When
the resulting window opens, fill out the information for the new category. You will probably find that the new category winds up in one of the previously
created categories. If this happens, you can move it by following these steps:

  1. Locate the new category.
  2. Right-click the category and select Move
    Elements | Parent Level.
  3. Right-click a blank area and select Save List.

This should bump the new category into the root of the menu
structure. You can start adding new software entries into the new category or move them from one category to another.