2008-04-16

Portable Delphi 2007 for Win32 - Part I.5

It's been a while since I started this project and, despite the long period with no posts, it hasn't been forgotten. But a few factors helped to prevent me from completing it as of yet. First I was in bed for a few days from some nasty flue, then I got up before being ready which eventually led back to bed for a few more days, and by then I had a ton of work to catch up with. Factor that with running into some problems with some of my other "thinstalled" applications and not being happy with the Thinstall price tag (which I'm only using because it's registered to the company I'm working for: there's no way I could justify spending 5 grand in a piece of software!), and then you're starting to see the picture. Today I had a bit of time and, after having found another virtualization suite, one that is free for personal use, I decided to give it a spin.

Even though it has some design flaws that would make it improper to make a "Portable" Delphi, it could be a nice tool to create a semi-portable Delphi and I may be back to it in a couple weeks or so. But, for the time being, here are the main disadvantages I found in Altiris SVS in a couple hours of use:

- Requires the engine to be installed first (admin rights);

- Requires the packages to be "imported" which is kind of an Install in that it expands the package over to the virtual redirection folder;

- Does not allow an easy way to configure *where* the local changes are stored so it's not trivial to carry your settings with you;

- If you want the redir folder to be stored elsewhere other than C:\fslrdr you need to use the command line to manually invoke MSI installer and pass some parameters;

- You're "forced" to work in their chosen locale, that is, my Windows XP is English but, because my location and keyboard are Portuguese, I have the regional settings set to Portuguese. If I want the software to be in English as ALL my programs are, I have to overwrite some of it's files, namely copy the .DLLs from the 1033 folder over the ones in the 1046 folder. (I hate dumb programs that try to be smart!)

- I also ran into a weird bug: after restoring another semi-clean ghost of my C: drive, and having installed the SVS client (and after the mandatory reboot), I decided to try a "bold" move: double-click an SVS package that I had created earlier. It started to "import" it or so it seemed, but in no time I was rendered with a useless Admin console:

Bugged

Not even a cold boot sorted it out! I had to restore the ghost image again and re-install SVS again and then I could use the "Import from Archive" option. And I was able to successfully import the VERY same package. Kind of weird of them to create file associations and then have them screw things up so badly!

So, I'll keep my original idea and, in the next few nights and in the next weekend I will go back to resume my work on Thinstalling Delphi 2007. It's a shame as Altiris' SVS product was priced just about right: Free for Personal Use! Download license from here and setup from here if you want to give it a spin.

BTW: Don't get me wrong on this "negative" feedback: Altiris' product does look promising and it even may have a few advantages (other than the price!) over other similar packages. It's just inadequate for my current project of creating a Portable Delphi. If I get to "play" with this product a bit more, I may come up with a more rounded review focusing also the pluses. It won't be in the next couple weeks due to lack of time and other priorities, such as finishing the Portable Delphi! :)

8 comments:

Christophe said...

Maybe you should also have a try at a program called SandBoxie. As the name says it's dedictaed to run program in a sand box, but can also be used to make program portable.

xsintill said...

i thought thinstall was bought by vmware and made into a beta project called project north star
http://www.vmware.com/beta/northstar/

Fernando Madruga said...

@xsintill: yep, that's correct as I mentioned in part I. However, rather than use a timed beta I use the full product because I have it licensed through the company I'm working for.

@cristophe: Thanks for the pointer. I will give it a look.

Jim McKeeth said...

Another one to try (if you need another one) is www.xenocode.com. It looks like they charge $499, but there may be some end user license restrictions that complicates things. I played with a much earlier version, which was pretty cool. They appear to have come a long way.

It would be great if once you are done a legal way to share your work could be found. I mean more then all of use going and getting a Thinstall license and repeating the efforts.

Fernando Madruga said...

@Jim: If you look back in Part 1, I do mention having tried Xenocode's product. It does have a much nicer UI but was (at the time) failing a simple test of virtualizing ActiveState's Perl. This has been fixed (or so they claim as I haven't tested again), and I even sent them the thinstall project that they were to convert into their format, but that was a few weeks ago and haven't read from them since.

My biggest hope is that meanwhile VMWare decides to price a "personal use" version of Northstar in the 0-100 USD range... Free for Personal use as other products would be just great, but a low price for a professional single user or <10 users or such would also not hurt as well...

Meanwhile, the more I try other products, the more I understand why VMWare picked that one to buy! It may be a bit rough, but gets the job done and is probably the only TRUE way to virtualize an application with no engines nor "unpackaging" to be done... Just run the generated .EXE and be up and running your virtual app in seconds with no fuss!

Anonymous said...

Portable Lazarus would be good enough for a lot of people.

Daniel

Anonymous said...

BDS2007 has been made compact and portable (without the .net crap) a long time ago by the chinese pirate community. to this day, several flavor of portable BDS2006-7 exist on chinese warez forums. most of these installers are less than 80 MB in size, compared to CG's full DVD releases!

Gustavo Carreno said...

Hey Fernando,

It's amazing how one can be oblivious of the nationality of the bloggers once they all are in a huge homogeneous list on your RSS reader...

I just realized, after reading your locale rant, that you and me have 2 things in common: Our love about Delphi and our birth place!!

<tuga>
Oies Tuga dum caneko!!!
Olha, manda ai um mail pra gcarreno "arromba" gcarreno "punto" org pra mantermos contacto. Tenho uma quesiculas a falar contigo :)
</tuga>