USB Thumb Drives and Your Open Source App Arsenal

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 22, 2009

Do you carry a USB thumb drive with you? If you don't, you should. These have fallen radically in price, and can be useful in numerous ways. For about $150 you can get 64GB drive that fits in your pocket, and keep it loaded with countless free, open source applications, or versions of Linux that you can run on any computer any time. With a 64GB drive, you can also easily back up files to your thumb drive, and conveniently transfer files back-and-forth between computers.

Hiawatha Bray, writing for the Boston Globe, points out a number of good thumb drive offerings to know about. For example, the $40 Aluratek USB Internet Radio Jukebox finds thousands of Internet radio stations and displays tuning software that lets you navigate to various kinds of content. This is an interesting approach to tying Internet-based content to thumb drives.

Bray also describes how easy it is to backup files using a thumb drive. We've written before about the PortableApps suite of free, open source applications that you can put on a thumb drive in one download. The applications are top-notch, and include backup utilities. You also get OpenOffice, Firefox, anti-virus software, and much more.

Mac users can find a similar one-download solution for putting open source applications on thumb drives at MacLibre. And, for Linux users, see our previous coverage of PenDriveLinux. It gives you downloads and instructions for many portable Linux versions that you can keep with you on your thumb drive. These drives are really inexpensive for lots of capacity now, and they can save you in an on-the-go pinch.