Make portable applications with VMware ThinApp
This tutorial explains how to create portable versions of many Windows Software with VMware ThinApp (formerly: Thinstall)
- A Virtual Machine with Windows XP or Vista (XP recommended) (VMware Workstation is the software used here, but you can also use software like VirtualBox)
- VMware ThinApp
How to do it
- Set up a XP Virtual Machine
- Install VMware ThinApp in the Virtual Machine
- Run "Setup Capture"
- After running Setup Capture, it asks to install the application: install the software you want to make portable
- Reboot if required (don't worry Setup Capture will start next time the Virtual Machine boots up)
- Customize the options of your application (accept licenses, disable "tips of the day", etc...)
- After doing the above, close you application and run "Setup Capture" again (it might be already open)
- Click "Next" until you get to the "post install scan": wait a little...
- Choose the executable you want to be the main container (for example: Firefox.exe in case of Firefox, this will be the file to contain all the data, the other files will just be shortcuts that link to it...)
- Choose the inventory name: the nome of your application is a good choice and click "next"
- In this screen you are given the option to choose if you want the app to store it's data in the user profile (this way an aplication is "tied" to a Windows installation) OR locally (on the folder where the portable exe is), use the second option if you want the app to be 100% portable and to use it in a USB Flash Drive, and click "next"
- Choose the compression type ("Fast compression" recommended) and click "next"
- Choose the "Isolation Mode" (the default one is OK) and click "next"
- Click "Build Now"
- You can now go to the project folder by clicking "Browser Project"
- The portable executable of the application is the the "bin" folder
- Copy the file out of the Virtual Machine (you can use a USB flash Drive for that)
- Test if the packed application can run on your PC
- If a Software can't be made portable try to chande isolation modes and you can also try to "capture" it in other operating system (see notes bellow)
- Some "ThinApped" software can run under wine
- You can use either Windows 2000, XP, or Vista in the Virtual Machine, you must always pack in an Operating system older or the same that the one where you want to run the app (for example, if you want it to run on Windows XP, you can pack it on Windows 2000 or Windows XP, but not Vista)
- Some applications may not run properly in later versions of Windows from which the one in which they were captured (an application packed in XP may not work in Vista, while sometimes, the same app, if packed on Vista, will run on Vista, it depends)
- Applications that require device drivers to work properly, can't be made portable this way... (this includes most Security Software - antivirus, firewalls, etc...)