Portable apps can be very handy if you only need a few applications. Portable Virtualbox enables you to bring along the whole OS in a thumb drive, but it can be slow and often take up a big chunk of your USB storage space. What if you can have the best of both world – a lightweight and portable OS that contains all the applications you need?
Prayaya V3 creates a portable Windows operating system on your removable storage device such as USB drive, iPod, external hard disk etc and allows you to install your own applications (and games), customize your own settings and even manage your own bookmarks. You can then bring the storage device around in your pocket and use it on any Windows computer.
Unlike portable virtualbox, Prayaya does not need a full OS image. What it does is to hook the kernel of the Windows PC and redirect the file operations. It only needs to store the important kernel files in the removable drive to work in any Windows PC. This also explains why it doesn’t take up a lot of space in your USB drive. In fact, the installation only requires a mere 15Mb of free space.
Firstly, download the installer in your Windows PC (it works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 32-bit). The trial version is fully functional for 30 days. Plug in your removable device and run the Prayaya installer.
When prompted, select the removable drive as the installation destination.
After the installation, open your Windows Explorer and navigate to the removable drive. Double click on “StartV3.exe” to run Prayaya.
You will be asked to login to your Prayaya account. If you do not have a Prayaya account, click on the “register account” link to create a new account. This will be your main user account, so don’t forget your username and password.
Next, you will see the Prayaya virtual desktop. It is a stripped down version of the host Windows OS (If the host OS is WIndows XP, the virtual desktop will also follow the XP layout).
The basic virtual desktop comes with system applications like Windows Explorer, calculator, notepad, Paint, Games etc. Since my host Windows is running IE9, the virtual desktop also have a copy of IE9 browser.
There is a toolbar at the top of the virtual desktop. This will also be your main command center. The center icon allows you to switch between the host OS and the virtual desktop (or use the shortcut key “Alt + q”).
The installation of third party applications is the same as in any Windows platform. Simply download the installer and run it within the virtual desktop. Prayaya also comes with a software list with hyperlink for you to download the installer.
Screenshot of GIMP running in the virtual desktop:
Virtual desktop or small windows mode
In the Settings, you can configure Prayaya to start in a virtual desktop or small windows mode.
In the small windows mode, you will only see a small window (akin to your Start menu) with links to your applications. This will allow you to work on the host computer and have access to your virtualized apps. For those who have used PortableApps, you will find this interface familiar.
Things to improve
At the moment, there is no ways to save the sate (aka hibernation mode) of the virtual desktop, just like in Virtualbox. Everytime you start Prayaya, you have to restart the apps individually, which can take up a lot of time, depending on the host machine speed. Hopefully the developer can add in the “save state” feature in the next version.
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