Tech Line

Windows XP -- To Go

With this handy tool, you can carry your personal XP OS and programs with you on your pen drive.

Virtualization guru Harley Stagner has been turning me on to quite a few tools lately (see last week's column if you need a refresher) and here is one more that I thought I'd pass along. If you want the freedom and security to carry your personal Windows XP OS around with you, take a look at Mojopac.

With Mojopac, you can save personal files and install applications on a Windows XP virtual machine that lives on portable storage, such as a USB pen drive. You can then plug in the pen drive to any Windows XP computer and access your files and applications.

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To start using MojoPac, follow these steps:

  1. Download the MojoPac installer here. Note that you will have to register for an account in order to access the download content.
  2. Once the download completes, run the MojoPacInstaller. Then navigate through the installation wizard to install the software. Note that the installation will be stored on a USB 2.0 compliant device (IEEE 1394 works too). You will be prompted to select a device during the installation.
  3. When the installation finishes, select the option to Start MojoPac now.
  4. When MojoPac starts, you should see the MojoPac Product Activation window. Enter your username and password, and then click the Activate 30-day Trial Version radio button. When finished, click Activate.
  5. You should now see the MojoPac Initial User Setup window. Enter your full name and the remaining information requested, and then click Finish.
  6. You are now prompted that you are running MojoPac for the first time on your system. Click Yes to copy your files to your MojoPac PC.
  7. In the MojoPac Data Copy window, you can select which user data files you want to copy. By default, your Internet Explorer settings and Firefox settings are copied. You can also select to copy the contents of your My Documents folder along with the path to any other data folder that you specify. Once you finish defining the data files to copy, click Finish.
  8. To run MojoPac, open your USB drive in Windows Explorer and then double-click on Start.exe.
  9. In the Welcome to MojoPac window, click Start Mojo.

At this point, your virtual MojoPac PC should boot and appear on the screen. Now you can download and install any programs or applications that you want to carry with you on your MojoPac PC. You can also install programs directly from an installation CD. Note that the C drive on the MojoPac PC is a virtual hard drive that lives on your USB drive -- no installation files get written to the host system.

If you start any network application and it appears to hang, click the button to switch back to the host system to see if any prompts appear from a personal firewall installed on the host. If so, click the option to allow the traffic. Then click the MojoPC icon on your system tray and select Switch to MojoPac to return to the MojoPac PC.

Once you are finished working with your MojoPac PC, just click Start and select Shut Down. This will gracefully shut down the MojoPac PC. With your PC setup, you can take it with you wherever you go. Everything that you do in the MojoPac PC remains in the MojoPac PC, so no footprint is left on the host system.

With installed application support, the MojoPac developers have been able to test a limited set of applications, which can be viewed here. Is you’re wondering “This sounds too good to be true. Where’s the catch?” there is one small catch. The 1.0 version of MojoPac requires Administrator rights in order to run. Naturally, this will limit where you can run your MojoPac PC. In MojoPac 2.0, users without Administrative rights on a host system will be able to run a limited mode of their MojoPac PC. This is documented on the MojoPac requirements page.

Since a MojoPac PC will piggyback another XP OS, the disk space consumed on your USB 2.0 or IEEE 1394 device will only be the space of the user files and program files that you decide to install on your MojoPac PC. This allows you to carry around a PC on as little as a 128MB removable drive. Although MojoPac is just in its infancy, it looks to quickly establish itself as another helpful tool in the virtualization space.

About the Author

Chris Wolf is a Microsoft MVP for Windows --Virtual Machine and is a MCSE, MCT, and CCNA. He's a Senior Analyst for Burton Group who specializes in the areas of virtualization solutions, high availability, storage and enterprise management. Chris is the author of Virtualization: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Apress), Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley), and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).learningstore-20/">Troubleshooting Microsoft Technologies (Addison Wesley) and a contributor to the Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit (Microsoft Press).

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