Computing on a stick

Portable computing has been mentioned before in this column in an article on Ubuntu Linux and how some bright spark had created a portable version of it and a selection of programs that you can carry with you on a USB memory stick and use in any computer that you came across.

And now, thanks to reader David Buxton, I have news of a similar sort of system based on Windows-compatible software. The product is called LiberKey and it can be downloaded free from It is basically a collection of free portable programs grouped together with a menu system which you can use to start the particular program you want to use at the time.

There are a couple of different versions of the LiberKey including the Basic, with 28 programs, the Standard with 106 programs, and the Ultimate which includes 202 different program. These are predominantly utilities to help look after your system, edit audio and video files, burn discs, create documents, and many, many others; no games, unfortunately.

You can see on the website what each of the packages contains and download the one that suits you best. If however, you find that you need other programs, you can easily download them and add them to your LiberKey installation.

Getting LiberKey involves selecting the version you want, and clicking the download button. The Ultimate version download is 197Mb in size and needs 575 MB of disk space for installation.

Once the download is complete, you double-click it and, when asked where to install the system, you select a location on your computer or on a flash disk drive with enough space to accommodate it. Installation is fairly quick and once complete, you can activate LiberKey by opening the folder where you installed it, and double-clicking the program file.

When it starts, a little menu window pops up giving you a list of all the programs that have been installed and you can then start any of them by double-clicking it. I managed to start it easily enough and was able to run a number of the programs that I had installed.

There were one or two strange occurrences such as, for example, when I tried to start the Firefox Web browser. It just wouldn’t start but, seeing as the error message was in French, I’m still none the wiser about what had gone wrong.

I chose the Standard version of LiberKey and I must confess that many of the programs didn’t look at all interesting and I probably would never use them. One example is a replacement for the Windows file explorer and I must confess I don’t see the point of that.

Quite a number of programs I fiddled with promise to be quite useful. One was a clever little utility for creating photo albums for the web and the other can record whatever you’re doing on your computer screen, together with a narration, if you want to create a tutorial for somebody.

As I say, some of the programs look useful but a harder question to answer is whether the whole LiberKey concept is going to be useful or not. I honestly don’t think that I am likely to find it so, but I can see that for those hopping from computer to computer, it might be very handy to carry around a full set of programs configured just the way they like to use them.

One prime use for such a system might to avoid leaving traces of your activities on the computers that you use. I can’t guarantee that using LiberKey on a computer won’t leave traces and even if it doesn’t, I think you would still have to be very careful to save the files you create onto your flash drive, and not onto the computer by accident; the consequences of saving a file in the wrong place could potentially be fatal to your career and/or relationship.

LiberKey is a very interesting concept and one which will find favour with some.

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4 thoughts on “Computing on a stick

  1. I think that apps that can be used anywhere are the future but I’m not so sure that they will actually be carried round on a memory stick. I think online apps could be the winner although, with SA bandwidth as it is, maybe apps on a stick are the answer. Thanks for the links, I’ll check them out.

  2. this has nothing to do with the article but I am so fed up that I must “off-load”. I also bought a new computer 2 weeks ago (Acer), all my data was stored on an external H/D, easy to export it to my new p.c., that is what I thought. Before I had a chance to transfer, the external crashed. It was still under guarantee, Incredible was quite prepared to exchange for a new one, yea right, I would be sitting with 360 gigs of nothing. What would you do in such circumstances? Appreciate to hear from you, Annetta Lewis at nettylew@telkomsa. net

  3. Hi Netty. As one who has just toasted his data hard drive by mistake, I feel your pain. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much you can do about getting redress from Incredible. There are people than can recover data from crashed drives but I understand its an expensive process and would only be worthwhile if your data was irreplaceable. Sorry.

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