Carry the free winPenPack toolset on your USB drive

The open source and free winPenPack comes with a complete set of useful tools for anyone who wants to carry IT applications with them.

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 A).

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 add.
  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 launcher.
  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.

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....