When cleaning up my office this week I came across my old Software-Suitcase. A massive thing that used to be ma companion wherever I went if I had to do tech support. I remember working for the educational department and having this silver ‘flightcase’ with me all the time, because it contained all the software and tools I needed to do my job as an IT-guy. It used to house over a 100 jewel-boxes with software ranging from Operating systems to exotic tools and what have you. It required constant attention, making sure the discs you used the most did not get scratched, making sure you had the recent version of all the free and shareware tools and of course, tracking them down on the right disk. And lets not forget the horror of horrors : Leaving the cd in the tray of some computer and only finding out about it the next day .. AAARHG !
Your external drive : Software repository nr 1 : These days my ‘support briefcase’ has been seriously “midget-ized” With the coming of external media I have dragged all the software I need whenever i’m ‘out there’ to my 40 gigabyte, bus powered USB Harddrive. Its as small as hell and so very easy to maintain. By dragging all the disks I need the most onto it in nice little folders I can easily install whatever I want wherever I want and never have to worry about leaving behind cd’s. Its much easier to swap out older with newer versions of software and with the ‘find’ command you can look for any tool anywhere.
Your external drive : Toolbox Mobile : But if you want to : Go one step further. I mean, If you can pack all your geeky software collection in there, make sure to make it your mobile toolbox as well. A separate directory carries ALL of my portable applications. That way I can just hook up my drive to any machine and either do what I like to do best with my OWN applications or use the tools to repair the buggered box back to health.
Your external drive : Mobile operating system in progress. Just like the Dutch bring their own water on holiday you can just as easily bring your own operating system. Why not BOOT from your portable hard drive and turn in into your very own OS. ( A howto on doing it with Ubuntu can be found HERE , and there are plenty more options to try like THESE ONES )
And finally : With the advent of digital books all around us its time to stop running to your company printer to make a hardcopy of “the linux Bible’ you just downloaded from Bitorrent. Downloading books in order to print them is so pre-kyoto. These days we need the trees and if you want to carry around your entire MSDN collection you are going to need to store them digitally (or get a goon to carry them for you) So store your online library on that USB drive and with the wonderful function called ‘FIND’ you can access and search through them at a pace that would be impossible if you where still in the page-flipping days. One tip : If you are dealing with end users and find yourself explaining the same things over and over again, try making small how to’s and instead of printing them out and giving them to the users , keep a copy on your usb drive. So the next noob will just have to control copy past to embrace your wisdom !