Hot desking with Firefox on a stick, how about Java on a stick?

USB keyA few weeks ago I blogged about a list of features I believed the next generation web browser required in order to really satisfy Tim O'Reilly's Web2.0 vision.  One of the things I listed was the ability for me to take my extensions and preferences with me.  Be careful what you wish for.

I stumbled upon the excellent work from John Haller and his continued effort to port a good portion of open source projects to be able to run seamlessly from removable storage such as a USB key or an iPOD.  So far he has completed FireFox, Thunderbird, Open Office, Abiword, FileZilla, Gaim and Sunbird.  Having tried the FireFox one I was well impressed.  Painless and fast.  With the speed of the USB2 connection, loading wasn't noticable and with the size of USB keys coming into the high GB's the dream of Kirk to completely remove all the moving parts (aka hard disk) from his laptop is coming quicker than we probably thought.

This is invaluable for the magpie users, those that don't have any fixed addressed, and simply hijack whatever machine they are closest to.  For example, in a remote office, or even a conference.  Simply whip out your complete desktop on your USB, plug it in to the nearest PC, and you ready to go with no long installation or bootup process.  Heaven.  With iPOD type of devices we are talking upwards to 60GB available, though in reality, 2GB is more than enough for the base applications you'd want to take on the move.

But why limit this to the main stream applications I thought.  How would Eclipse operate on a USB key?  And if that didn't cause too much grief how about further extending that and moving the complete J2EE development environment onto the key.  I am looking at our SpikeSource J2EE stack and thinking that I should spend a little time and see what the results are.  It shouldn't be too difficult since most of the hardwork of decoupling the software from their default installation directories and all the plumbing has been done already by us as part of the stack. I will report back my findings.

This would give me the ability to take my whole development environment with me instead of lugging my laptop.  I could even hijack some of the airport terminals and instead of using their bandwidth I would simply use their hardware resources.  Another perfect user group would be students who maybe can't afford a PC of their own.  They could use any machine within the campus or internet cafe and still have all their data with them.  Backup is much easier, since it's a single image copy.  Security tighter as all data comes with you on the removable device, nothing is left behind.

Jeremy Zawodny forced himself to use GMail and Yahoo! Mail exclusively for 30 days to see if he could live in an online only world.  Maybe I should set myself a similar goal and see I could live in a hotdesk world.


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