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I am looking for a way to set up a development environment for web applications (using PHP and either MySQL or SQLite) on a USB flash drive: that means at least a web server, a database manager and hopefully an IDE to work on the application.

Now my problem is that I work on several computers with different OS (mainly Windows 7 and Linux). This requirement renders most of the solutions I found very difficult to implement, because it usually ends up by installing every software twice (one for each OS) without mentioning the config problems.

Is there a way to get around this ?

As I looked for OS independent software to do this, I thought of Java: is it possible to manage this with Java based software (which ones ?) and will it work no matter the OS ?

Related questions that I found here:

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The only solution I can think of would be virtualization. Sun Virtualbox runs on pc/max and linux. If you created a vm on your flash drive, theoretically, you would be able to take that to your other workstation and load it. Then it would simply be a matter of installing your web stack and development tools. The OS that makes the most sense logistically for this is a really stripped down linux.

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Thanks for your answer, I tried that a while ago with Ubuntu but it was really (really) slow and took ages to boot up. Do you think it depends on the system installed on the flash drive (maybe Ubuntu is too bloated) or on the performance of the host system ? – Aabaz Sep 6 '11 at 9:41
Probably a little of both. Virtualization is not going to be as fast as native, but that's the cost of portability. You also need enough memory and cpu power on the hosts to be able to keep the guest in memory. Personally I only have the server components in virtualbox, and have dev tools on my workstations where i want the performance and responsiveness. The code stays in version control so i can sync things that way. – gview Sep 6 '11 at 17:21

The only way i see OS independence is to use a portable windows versions of what you need, and run the software in linux on wine.

Alternately, run a server (VM or physical) for development, use local versions of the tools in question, and upload it to the server, which should hugely simplify things. If its within a lan, use remote access for the tools you need. In short have one workspace and use your other systems as thin clients to it.

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