Carry an entire operating system in your pocket

Scott dunn
By Scott Dunn

Running applications from a USB flash drive on a public computer is convenient but exposes you to malware and other limitations of the host PC.

By installing a Windows-like version of Linux on a flash drive, you can take a complete operating system wherever you go and work in a safe, secure environment, even in an Internet café.

Assessing your portable alternatives

Several months ago, in the Oct. 18, 2007, issue, I explained how to run free, portable applications from a USB flash drive (also known as a thumb drive, pen drive, memory stick) to simulate having a computer you can carry in your pocket.

Although keeping your favorite free applications and documents on a flash drive is handy, any use of a public computer (such as those found in a hotel business center or Internet café) exposes you and your data to risks from malware, which can threaten your security and privacy.

But what if your “pocket PC” included not just applications and data but an entire operating system, too? It would be even more like having a genuine computer in your pocket.

After my Oct. 18 article on flash-drive computing, some readers suggested using MojoPac as a way of carrying around Windows XP on a USB device. Unfortunately, MojoPac does not really give you an entire operating system.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2008-03-20: