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A sometimes-forgotten Linux Desktop Environment, Cinnamon is a contender for your desktop that you may not have seen coming. While Cinnamon is developed by the Linux Mint team as a flagship for their distribution, it is also available to download and use on any other distro. This article covers Cinnamon desktop in depth, exploring the user experience and customization options, performance, usability, and recommendations for who should use Cinnamon.

First Impressions of Cinnamon

Cinnamon was initially a fork of GNOME, but with Cinnamon 2.0, it became an independent desktop environment that is no longer reliant on the GNOME library. Upon logging in, Cinnamon looks clean, modern, and focused. It follows a very traditional desktop paradigm from Windows, with an application menu in the bottom left, applications along the bottom panel, and a system tray in the bottom right. It also has desktop icons for all your disks/file systems with “Computer” and your home folder with “Home.”

Cinnamon has a classic, traditional paradigm, but with a distinct touch.

Once you get over the initial “Wow, this looks like Windows,” you see that there’s been some work done on Cinnamon to make it feel distinct from both the GNOME backend and the Windows-esque appearance. The “Themes” application gives you a nice overview of all your look-and-feel settings and options, with tons of color choices available, with the options to change things around.

User Experience

If the aim was to create a DE that follows traditional paradigms, then the Linux Mint team has absolutely done that with Cinnamon. Right out of the box, there are dedicated minimize and maximize buttons, all the window controls are on the right side of the window borders, and the application menu in the bottom left has categories and a powerful search function that not only searches application titles but also descriptions. Navigating the desktop is super simple; the desktop puts you in the driver’s seat while not asking you to drive anything too unwieldy.

Searching “look” brings up the Themes app, giving you a way to have Cinnamon hear what you mean, not what you say

For anything you need in Cinnamon, you simply open the applications menu and either look through the categories or start typing to search. It’s a centralized location for you to start digging through everything the system has to offer, and it unifies all of the applications into logical categories and a universal access point. It’s quite similar to Windows in that way, but the feel of the applications is reminiscent of many GNOME applications. The interface is simple but effective, and it gives you what you’re looking for without getting in the way. A great example of this is Xed, which is Cinnamon’s take on Gedit from GNOME. It’s simple, elegant, minimal, and allows you to quickly write your script, text file, or readme without much hassle.

The Cinnamon X-Apps

Many of the Cinnamon default X-Apps are like GNOME Core apps plus a little extra user-friendliness. Xed, the text editor, is like Gedit with some easier preferences and choices. The ways the apps are designed is partially why Linux Mint has a great reputation of being user-friendly.

Cinnamon’s XedGNOME’s Gedit


Cinnamon also has a great deal more customization right out of the box than its ancestor. While the default interface is Windows-like, you can easily move the panel around (or remove it if you want) and make it macOS-like/Ubuntu-like or any other style you like. You can customize the panel, the icon for the applications menu, the global theme, the accent colors, the icon theme, the window decorations, the window border, and so much more. Almost every aspect of the desktop interface can be customized. The customization isn’t on par with KDE Plasma, but it’s much more thorough than other offerings. It makes space for you to move in and feel at home without overwhelming you. It’s the best parts of Linux without the worst parts: you have the choice and control without the overwhelming amount of freedom that some options give you.

Keyboard Shortcuts in Cinnamon

Cinnamon also comes with great keyboard shortcuts, especially around window tiling. By holding down the Super key and pressing Left, Right, Up, or Down, you can half-tile windows to the left, right, top, or bottom of your screen. Plus, once a window is half-tiled to one side, you can quarter-tile it by pressing Up or Down. The windows tile without any animation or delay, making things feel incredibly fast and like you can just get work done.

Quarter tiling in action

Window management is done with a classic Alt + Tab, giving you an application icon and a drop-down menu of the window preview. In terms of workspace management, it’s a similar setup: hold down Ctrl and Alt and press either Left, Right, Up, or Down. Left and Right will switch workspaces, Down will show you an overview of your workspaces, and Up will give you a gridded overview of all of your workspaces with the option to add more.

Cinnamon focuses on the keyboard, which is playing to the strengths of Linux particularly well, especially with a lack of easy touchpad gestures in Linux. Being able to hold Super or Ctrl and Alt and use the arrow keys to navigate the system, especially with the quick snap of the keyboard shortcuts, gives you a really logical and simple way to work around the system, and once you embrace those shortcuts, you won’t go back.

Cinnamon’s Workspace Expo is a great way to quickly look at everything happening on your desktop with Ctrl + Alt + Up

Cinnamon Extensions

There are all kinds of Cinnamon extensions available, like a Compiz Cube for your workspaces, a background blur in overview, and wobbly windows, a favorite among its diehard fans. The Cinnamon Extensions give you access to some functional changes in the desktop rather than the typical visual changes afforded by the Themes app. It’s another layer of customization that gives you flexibility in your system.

Cinnamon Desklets

Another great strength of Cinnamon is its Desklets. These are little applets that you can add to your desktop to give you a larger clock, a dedicated application launcher, CPU usage graphs, and many others. It’s a great way to be able to quickly glance at important information without having to crowd a system tray or open another application. It’s all just baked into the desktop.


Cinnamon performance is excellent. At idle on a freshly-booted Linux Mint 19.3 virtual machine, CPU usage is around two to three percent, and idle RAM usage is at 566MB. That’s quite a small footprint, especially considering its lineage. That makes it ideal for older machines with less powerful CPUs and that have lower maximum RAM specifications. I could envision an older ThinkPad running very well with Cinnamon, especially given all of its useful keyboard shortcuts.

An Htop view of Linux Mint 19.3 running Cinnamon

As mentioned before, there are very few animations, which can feel a little un-modern. However, it increases overall system performance and makes things feel lightning fast. Switching workspaces, tiling windows, opening the application menu, everything feels incredibly fast. It makes me want to work faster in order to keep up with the desktop, almost like the desktop challenges me to keep up.

The Cons of Cinnamon

Cinnamon is an excellent desktop environment, but there are some negatives to it. The Mint Icon theme feels a little dated, and it feels like somebody made a caricature of an icon theme from 2007. It’s simple enough to change, like with all Linux desktops, but there’s clearly been much thought that’s gone into the design, theming and accent colors that I’d love to be able to stick with the Mint icon theme. It’s a bit of a letdown.

Another downside is some of the extra applications that come with Cinnamon. Things like Transmission, HexChat, two distinct fonts apps, and two distinct USB formatting and writing applications makes me wonder how much of it is really necessary. I often find myself uninstalling a fair number of applications that come stock with Cinnamon just because they get in my way. The X-Apps are great, as they add usability to the GNOME Core apps, but it’s just hard to get past HexChat in my applications menu.

Where to Experience Cinnamon

The obvious choice is Linux Mint. The Linux Mint team has been iterating on Cinnamon for a good while, and the polish that they’ve achieved is commendable. On top of Cinnamon itself, there are tons of useful applications developed by the team and integrated into Mint specifically, which makes for an incredible user experience. Things like Warpinator, Timeshift, and the Driver Manager give little user-friendly edges to Mint that are hard to find elsewhere.

Who Should Use Cinnamon

Anybody looking for a lightweight desktop that looks good and works well out of the box should give Cinnamon a try, especially if you consider yourself a keyboard shortcut kind of person. Using Cinnamon even for a day or two will give your desktop a new lease on life and help you realize the potential of how quickly and efficiently you can get work done.

Now that you’ve learned some of the ins and outs of Cinnamon, make sure to check out how to enable Autologin in LightDM and why you should use Timeshift in Linux Mint to back up your computer.

John Perkins

John is a young technical professional with a passion for educating users on the best ways to use their technology. He holds technical certifications covering topics ranging from computer hardware to cybersecurity to Linux system administration.

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Lumina, A Lightweight Desktop Environment

Lightweight systems need lightweight desktops. XFCE was once the favourite lightweight environment for many, then it grew larger. It might still consume less resources than its heavier siblings, but it keeps adding so many more features that some now say it’s bloated. Then there is LXDE, LXQt, and razor Qt, which are all excellent choices but not as light as fluxbox or openbox. While the former selection offers more usability on the expense of marginally more resource consumption, the latter can feel clunky and alien to use. Lumina takes the middle ground. It is super-light, user-friendly and very customisable.


For installation instructions, it is best to visit the Lumina website to select the most suitable scenario.

User Interface

When you first log in, you will find a plain desktop with a single top panel and an oddly-placed calendar widget.

There is no start menu, but you will see a “user” button. To the right, there is a clock, and the so-called “system dashboard,” from which a volume controller, a battery status indicator, a workspace switcher, a locale switcher and a logout button are visible.

which will make the calendar grow a title bar, then moving it wherever you like or getting rid of it entirely. Once you find the preferred location, the desktop can be locked again.


You can have favourite places, applications and files stored here which shows immediate usage potential.

The last section is Desktop Preferences, which offers Desktop Configuration (which is basically Lumina configuration, also accessible from a terminal by typing lumnina-config), Screen configuration (for multiple monitors, screen sizes, etc.), and XScreensaver config.

In Desktop Configuration you can change the system appearance and behaviour. A nice touch is the built-in wallpaper rotator that works right out of the box. The theme selector offers a few weird-looking colour schemes by default.

Themes can be customized. The settings panel enables the user to edit the template’s CSS, which means the desktop can be turned into whatever you like (or are capable of).

The Panels tab will allow you to configure the default panel and add other panels if you like. Under Application, you can manage startup applications

and file associations from an extensive list. You can, of course, define keyboard shortcuts and various session

and window-system-specific settings. Interestingly, the window decorations (that changed upon changing theme) could only be set up from here instead of the theme menu. Also, being offered seems to have resembled the default window controls.


Lumina is not so much your usual DE, coming with all sorts of applications and office suites, etc., but rather an interface through which you can interact with the system. As such, it only has a simple set of applications available, consisting of the already mentioned “lumina search” which is also accessible from the menus. A simple file manager called “Insight” (lumina-fm), a basic screen capture application (lumina screenshot) and “lumina desktop-info,” tells you about the DE. Anything else you’d have to install yourself.


Lumina is really lightweight. It is fluxbox-based, which is, of course, one of the lightest window managers out there. Lumina tops fluxbox’s sub 10MB memory use with further 70 MB with the standard settings. This means that this completely customisable, user-friendly and not bad-looking Desktop Environment uses less than 80MB of RAM, which is not exactly heavy by any standard. With that much memory demand, it definitely does not get in the way.


For small, old, or purposefully lightweight systems, Lumina is one excellent choice for a desktop environment. It is probably less well known then some others but definitely easier to use than similarly lightweight window managers. Lumina is super light and very customisable. The modular plug-in based approach makes it possible to have it as stripped down or (relatively) feature rich as the user likes. Although some features might look unfamiliar at first, especially for someone coming form a heavier or different environment, Lumina makes configuration not only straightforward but intuitive as well. For now, its availability is somewhat limited, but hopefully it will soon come packaged for more distributions. Until then, you might as well consider switching to Debian, which would be an excellent base for a lightweight system, or consider installing from the git source.

Attila Orosz

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Boaty Mcboatface Has Been A Very Busy Scientific Explorer

Boaty, the long-range autosub, has had a year. It went to, and came back from, a trip under the Antarctic ice. Shortly after, it set off on a new mission to survey the coastal ecosystems of the UK, returning back to researchers in mid-June.

Boaty McBoatface, famously named as such because of an internet contest gone awry, is one of many autonomous underwater vehicles that researchers at the UK National Oceanography Centre (NOC) use to collect data from the ocean. 

The 11-foot-long sub completed a mission at the Thwaites “doomsday glacier” in late March. “My understanding is that from a technical perspective, that was highly successful. It did achieve its objectives,” says Matthew Palmer, chief scientist for Marine Autonomous & Robotic Systems (MARS) at the NOC.

Now comes the hard part: analyzing all the data it gathered and crunching the numbers. “You spend a few days in the ocean and then you spend the next three or four years trying to work out what it’s telling us,” Palmer says. 

The team is not wasting any time. Boaty has a busy year ahead of it, with multiple missions lined up, some a bit closer to home. 

The run from Plymouth, UK to the continental shelf south of Ireland was intended to prove that Boaty could indeed complete long-distance journeys, even in fairly unusual coastal environments. And it was the longest journey yet for the autosub. Boaty went for 5 weeks on its own to depths of over 1,000 meters (that’s more than 3,000 feet), collecting measurements on temperature, salinity, ocean physical structures, current velocities, and more. It surfaced daily to phone home sensor data and receive new piloting instructions from the team in Southampton.

“The UK is quite uniquely situated…surrounded by a broad shelf sea. In the US, by comparison, its shallow coastal ocean is often quite narrow, so doesn’t last very long before it drops away into the deep ocean. In the UK, we can travel hundreds of kilometers before we reach deep ocean,” says Palmer. “The challenge here is to go across the shallow ocean, where you’ve got ships, you’ve got fishing vessels, and it’s a hazardous environment for us.”

[Related: Boaty McBoatface’s new mission is more serious than its name]

NOC’s fleet of robots. National Oceanography Centre

The team is also tweaking the onboard command and control on those vehicles, including testing giving these vehicles artificial intelligence. “It makes sense because once these vehicles go beneath the surface, we can’t talk to them. They need to operate on their own,” says Palmer. This would be an upgrade to the program Boaty used in Antarctica, where it was following a set mission, although it had to take into account environmental conditions it came into contact with like rapid, unexpected changes in density. Then, it would adjust its settings accordingly by running through a series of what-ifs, and-or scenarios. But this more old-school, rules-based approach may not work in more complex settings.

One benefits of giving it more autonomy in this way could be that it can decide to investigate something interesting it finds. “So if I’ve got a vehicle, it needs to recognize an important science feature that I might be interested in seeing. I might not want it to come all the way to the surface now and tell me about it,” Palmer says. “I might want it to stay down and say ‘ok, I’ve found a really interesting patch of phytoplankton,’ for instance. ‘I’ve got this list of ideas of what I might do, depending on its size. I might stay with it for a certain period of time. I might drift alongside it for a few days.’” 

“One future aspiration is that we have fleets of these things out monitoring our oceans on an almost continuous basis,” Palmer says. A system like the Argo float program, is an example of a successful application of this capability. “I think that does help set very high aspirations on more controllable types of vehicles… It might be Boaty, it might be other vehicles such as ocean gliders. Also, we might design smaller AUVs that do shorter periods of time. They’re much cheaper, you can use them for a few hours or a few days, and that would complement the long term science that the autosubs do.” 

Having fleets of these robots out near shore without the need for frequent trips by big research ships would allow the research teams to do more science with a lower carbon footprint. Palmer thinks that there’s a lot of opportunity to grow and develop this technology globally, including in lesser developed countries that are often coastal nations, as a way to better monitor their marine environment and fisheries.

Some of the emerging opportunities for these robots have been accelerated because of the current energy crisis in Europe and the UK. One of the benefits of the UK’s shallow surrounding seas is that you can put structures like wind farms in it fairly easily. 

“We’ve currently got a quite small footprint of offshore wind farms in the UK that’s starting to provide a significant amount of our energy. But what would upscaling that 10 times look like?” Palmer wonders. “What would that actually start doing to your physical ecosystems and biological structures in your oceans?” For example, if it changes the tides, it could affect the country’s current flood defenses. And, having wind farms could impact fishing, leisure, and transportation in the surrounding area. “It’s a really serious question that needs to be addressed,” he adds. 

Galaxy Note 5 Impressions (From A Galaxy User)

Note 5 vs S6 Edge Plus

Note 5 Review

Fast forward a few weeks and I’ve been using the Note 5 as my main smartphone for the past week. How does it compare to past Galaxy Note devices and is it a true Galaxy Note device? Let’s take a closer look as I share my first thoughts on Samsung’s latest phablet.

Design The contentious changes

As with all previous Note devices, there are a few things that set the Note range apart from the rest of the Galaxy family and in the Galaxy Note 5, these have been changed. How do they impact on the ‘Galaxy Note experience’?


Downloaded Apps: 48

Email Accounts: 9 (all Gmail)

Screen Brightness: 60%


Removing the back cover and the swappable battery also means that Samsung followed the design of the Galaxy S6 by removing the microSD card slot. The Galaxy S6 came with either 32GB, 64GB or 128GB storage but with the Note 5, Samsung has dropped the largest storage option.

I’ve got the 32GB version of the Note 5 and before this, I had the 64GB version of the Galaxy S6 Edge. When transferring everything over to the Note 5, the smaller storage option became an issue as I couldn’t transfer over my videos (my S6 Edge has 30GB worth of photos and videos).

This is quite frustrating as in previous years, a memory card would have solved this issue and while it was easy enough to clean up my photos and remove the rubbish that had accumulated there, it was quite frustrating that I had to do this. Having previously insisted that a lack of space was something that never affected me, this was a reality check that was probably needed.

Given that I stream music and only install a handful of apps, my storage is mainly used by photos and videos and I fully expect that the lack of storage on my Note 5 will affect me sooner, rather than later. Granted, cloud storage makes it easy to offload everything to the cloud to free up space, but I can already see that 32GB may not quite cut it for me.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 International Giveaway!


One thing I have noticed across both the Note 5 and the S6 Edge is Samsung’s reasoning behind dropping the expandable storage; the company claims that microSD cards slow a handset down and also claims that its UFS storage is up to 4 times faster than a microSD card and I agree with both.

On my Note 4, I remember the handset becoming quite slow when I loaded over 30GB worth of data onto the microSD card, but with the S6 Edge and Note 5 having the faster storage, I’ve noticed it’s a lot faster to access anything stored. That being said, if you’re thinking of picking up the Galaxy Note 5, be sure to carefully consider how much storage you need and spring for the higher capacity version.


Action Memo: Very similar to the Note 4, the Action Memo lets you scribble a note with ease. A particularly cool feature is being able to take the pen out and write a quick memo on the screen while it’s switched off but you’ll find that you actually disable this feature pretty quickly.

Smart Select: Just like previous years, you can select a small section of the screen and then share/edit it and the lasso tool especially, is a welcome improvement to the Smart Select experience.

Screen Write: This has to be one of my favourite features on the S-Pen, as you can take a screenshot of a page and then scribble any notes on top of this. A particular cool new feature inside Screen Write is the ability to scroll capture, which means you can capture an entire webpage or book, even if its not all displayed on the screen.

App Shortcuts: This is an interesting addition to the S-Pen as you can now set shortcuts to your three favourite apps. I have this set up to be S-Note, Twitter and Instagram but I hardly use those shortcuts from there; instead, an alternative is to use apps that are compatible with the S-Pen, such as Evernote, OneNote and S-Note.

Other Changes

So what about other changes in the Note 5 experience? There’s a few key differences that I’ve noticed – not least in the camera and the performance – that form a key part of the experience.


After the impressive performance of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge earlier this year, it was to be expected that Samsung would keep mostly the same internals for the Note 5. That means we have an octa-core 64-bit Exynos 7420 processor with two pairs of four cores and a Mali-T760MP8 GPU.

A key difference is the additional GB of RAM in the Note 5 and this makes all the difference; while my Galaxy S6 Edge did eventually shows signs of struggling, the Galaxy Note 5 is still as fast as when I first started using it, despite having all of my data and apps on it.

Like all smartphones, the Galaxy Note 5 will eventually slow down but 4GB RAM means it should take much longer than previous years to do so. The extra RAM also means having 15+ apps open in the background doesn’t impact the performance of the smartphone, and this is certainly a welcome improvement.


As we touched on in the Android Authority Podcast last month, the Galaxy Note 4 is arguably an iconic smartphone because it was the first time Samsung smartphone cameras could challenge any other device. Samsung followed this up with a very impressive Galaxy S6/Edge camera and this same camera comes to the Note 5, so you could reasonably expect it to be better than the Note 4, right?

With OIS turned on (not all images are shaky)

One of the features that transformed the Note 4 camera was Optical Image Stabilisation, which meant images captured were no longer full of noise (like on the Galaxy Note 3). Naturally, this came to the S6 and Edge along with the Note 5 and while the S6 Edge had a great camera, I’m less than impressed with the Note 5.

Whether it’s down to this particular unit, the design of the Note 5 or the size but OIS doesn’t seem to be doing as good a job as it did on both of the previous devices. Instead, images occasionally come out quite shaky (which would suggest this is down to OIS, which is enabled in the camera settings). On most occasions, however, the Note 5 camera certainly impresses as you can see below.

When you do get a non-noisy image, the images themselves are excellent and Samsung has definitely bought the quality of the S6 and S6 Edge camera to the larger form factor. Overall, the camera is probably one of the best you can get on an Android smartphone and if the camera on your smartphone is important to you, the Note 5 probably won’t disappoint.

Final Thoughts – is the Note 5, a real Galaxy Note?

Schedule A Desktop Flow To Run In Power Automate

So for today, I’ll go over how to schedule a Power Automate desktop flow to run inside Power Automate online. Let’s go to the Power Automate online and get one of the flows scheduled. All we have to do is basically just type in chúng tôi and it will take you to this homepage. This is what it would look like if you were already signed in.

Cloud flows could be any flow that we’ve created through chúng tôi You can check out our Power Automate Masterclass course from our Enterprise DNA expert, Henry Habib, for more on this topic. Typically, most of Henry’s flows would be under cloud flows.

Most of the flows under here are flows that I already set up that trigger or run those desktop flows on a schedule.

There’s also a Desktop flows tab, and a Business process flows tab. And then there’s another tab for Shared with me. If another user within your organization has shared a flow with you, it would appear in this tab.

But for today, I’m just going to concentrate on the cloud flows. In my situation, I schedule these desktop flows to run during the night so that when I wake up in the morning, I have the Power BI refresh schedule turned on.

These flows are downloading the data that I need to import into Power BI desktop. These refresh already have the updated data when they’re scheduled to run in the morning,

On the Cloud flows tab, you can see the highlighted clock icon which lets us know that this is a scheduled flow. The grayed out clock icons are current flows that I don’t have turned on. I have them set up, but they’re not scheduled to run so I have them turned off.

And then at the bottom, it gives you a 28-day run history. As you can see, on February 27th at 1:45 this morning, this flow failed.

This action will open up a new page where we can see the step-by-step processes and determine which steps proceeded and where it failed. We can see that on the right hand side of the screen, everything was good until this point.

You can use this feature to investigate and see the finer details on why your flow may have failed, and the reasons why.

Let’s go back to the main screen. Some other cool things that we can do from this page is run the flow, edit the flow, and share the flow with another member inside of our organization using these buttons.

So this is what the main screen looks like once you actually have some cloud flows set up. In my case, most of these are triggering desktop flows.

Let’s create another one of these cloud flows by going to the top button that says New flow.

There will be a menu where we can choose from different types of flows: Automated cloud flow, Instant cloud flow, Scheduled cloud flow, Desktop flow, or a Business process flow.

This new flow is going to start on February 27th at 1130 at night, and it will repeat every night, moving forward until we tell it to stop.

When you do run a scheduled cloud flow based on your desktop flows, your computer should not be asleep. It has to be on during this time. If you did this and your machine was asleep, you would see the next day that it failed.

From there, select your time zone.

If we want to run this flow multiple times, obviously we’d have to change frequency at the top. We can also separate these numbers by commas so that the flow will run at different times throughout the day.

In this case, the first option is what we’re using today. This screen will then pop up.

If you go to the Power Automate homepage and look at the prices, there is an extreme difference between attended and unattended.

We’ll be using attended flows, which means that we have to be signed in in order for the flow to run. You can run them unattended, but the price difference between the two is huge.

These are really the only two steps that you need in order to set up a desktop flow: Recurrence and Run a flow built with Power Automate for desktop. It’s not really that hard to get these flows set up and going once you get the hang of it.

If you enjoyed the content covered in this particular tutorial, please subscribe to the Enterprise DNA TV channel. We have a huge amount of content coming out all the time from myself and a range of content creators, all dedicated to improving the way that you use Power BI and the Power Platform.


Give Your Phone The Power Of A Desktop Pc

Mobile computing has long been dominated by laptop computers, but powerful new smartphones such as the various Android phones–including the new Motorola Droid X–are rapidly becoming the portable computing devices of choice.

However, a lot of tasks, such as word processing and Web browsing, are still more easily accomplished using the larger keyboard and monitor of a traditional laptop or PC. Consequently, most mobile professionals continue to lug around a bulky laptop in addition to their smartphone.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could ditch your laptop, carry just your smartphone, and still be able to work in a Windows PC (or OS X or Linux) environment when you need to? You can do that, with the help of portable apps. In contrast to phone apps–which are designed to run on the handset itself, using the phone’s hardware and operating system–portable apps run on a host computer, using the computer’s RAM and display, but they save all their data and settings to your portable drive (or your phone’s internal memory).

USB Drive Mode

All you need is your smartphone, the USB sync cable that works with it, and the right selection of portable apps, as well as access to a desktop or laptop PC–even if it’s just as a guest.

First, plug your phone into the computer using the phone’s sync cable. Next, select USB Drive mode. This process should work with all operating systems, most smartphones, and most other type of phone that use a sync cable. If your phone doesn’t use a sync cable, you’re out of luck.

[Story corrected on 7/19/10 to reflect the iPhone’s inability to support Drive Mode without jailbreaking.]

Finding Windows XP/Vista/7 Portable Apps

If you’d like to work as if you were at your desk, try chúng tôi Portable. Another useful app is the portable, cross-browser RoboForm2Go, a password manager that is secure and encrypted.

For another good source of useful portable apps, check out the Portable Freeware Collection.

Installing Windows XP/Vista/7 Portable Apps

Installing portable apps in Windows is a fairly straightforward process, similar to installing “normal” programs. The main difference is that with portable apps you need to specify the location where you want to install the app–namely, your smartphone’s internal storage.

If you have never installed portable apps before, going with chúng tôi is probably the easiest way to start. You can choose to download and install the Platform utility, an app launcher similar to the Start menu that makes it easy to install and access your choice of portable apps, documents, and other files.

Or you can try the bundled PortableApps Suite, which includes portable versions of the Firefox Web browser, Thunderbird e-mail client, Sunbird calendar/task app, ClamWin antivirus scanner, Pidgin instant messaging client, Sumatra PDF reader, KeePass password manager, CoolPlayer audio player, PNotes sticky-note tool, and chúng tôi office suite (a decent cross-platform alternative to Microsoft Office). It even has a couple of games.

Keep in mind, however, that the Suite is a 137MB download and that it unpacks to 400MB when installed. The installation process is simple (you just download the installer, run it, and specify your phone’s drive letter), but the package may be overkill for your needs. Personally, I use only the Platform app with Firefox Portable, Chrome Portable, Pidgin Portable, and Notepad ++.

Next: Portable Apps for Mac and Linux

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