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On this site : https://rufus.akeo.ie/, there are two downloads, one labeled "Rufus 2.8" and the other labeled "Rufus 2.8 portable" I have tried both, and they do not differ in functionality as far as I am aware. I don't know what the difference between the two is, if there is any, as the one not labeled "Portable" is also portable" (i.e. requires no installation").

4

How comes the portable and regular version are binary identical?

That's because the way Rufus detects whether it should run in portable or regular mode is by checking the file name of the executable. The way it works is like this: if the file name contains the letter p, then the code will run in portable mode. And if there is no p, then regular mode is used. As a matter of fact, on the web server, the download for the portable version is just a symbolic link to the regular version, with a p added to the name, so of course the binaries will always be identical.

But there's nothing fancy or mysterious about this method - software like Busybox has been doing this for years and you shouldn't freak out, or tell me that there an issue with the downloads, on account that the size and content of the portable and regular version of Rufus are exactly the same. There exists many ways to make the exact same executable behave in a completely different manners, through external factors, such as its file name...

From Rufus FAQ

The only difference FAQ mentions is below:

Rufus connects to the internet, but I never allowed it to - why?

...

How could I solve this dilemma then? Simple: If you look at http://rufus.akeo.ie/downloads/ you'll see there are actually 2 versions of the latest Rufus version, one called rufus-#.#.exe (as well as the corresponding the portable version) and the other called rufus.exe. They are essentially the same binary file (rufus.exe is actually just a symbolic link to the first one on the web server). However, when Rufus starts, it checks for the name of its executable, and if it finds that it is called "rufus.exe", it does not display the question on whether a user wants to check for update, and enables that check automatically.

  • I don't get what the difference between 'portable' and 'regular' mode as explained in the first entry, and the second one does not talk about the portable version either. – WinMacLinUser May 9 '16 at 1:11
  • I quoted from the official site. If that isn't true then you should contact the developer. – Máté Juhász May 9 '16 at 4:22
  • I understand what 'binary identical – WinMacLinUser May 9 '16 at 5:36
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As the main developer of Rufus, let me shed a little more light on the question by quoting from what I think is a more relevant portion of the official Rufus FAQ:

First of all, I think I need to define what portability is, because a lot of people (including Wikipedia) use a wrong definition, and completely miss the point of what a portable application is really about.

A portable application is an application which gives you the ability to carry and preserve your settings when moving from one computer to the next.

That's it. That's all a portable application does.

Thus, if you are expecting that portability implies anything about NOT writing into the registry on Windows, or not coming with an installer, you are very mistaken. Most of the time, being portable means that the application will write its settings to a text file (such as a .ini file on Windows) that you can carry around with the software, as you move from one computer to another, instead of the registry, and this may be the reason why many people confuse "portable" with "not writing to the registry, ever" on Windows, but there really is no promise being made from a bona fide portable application that it will leave the registry untouched.

And so, with this having been clarified, I can explain that the regular version of Rufus already qualifies as a portable application because, if you happen to have a rufus.ini in the same directory as your Rufus executable (even if it's an empty file), then Rufus will read and write its settings, such as the language you want to run the application into, or the other options that get preserved between sessions, into that file, and should you copy both your rufus.ini and the Rufus executable to another computer, you will see that your settings have been preserved from the previous computer, hence "portable". And at this stage, I also have to stress out that, even when Rufus runs in portable mode, your registry will be modified, since this is NOT what portability is about.

Then, why provide a portable version at all, you say? Well, this brings us to the ONLY difference the "portable" version of Rufus has with the "regular" one, which is that the "portable" version will create a rufus.ini by default (so that you don't have to do it yourself, if you want to use Rufus in portable mode), whereas the regular version doesn't. That's really all there is to it!

This is also the reason why when Rufus downloads an update, it always picks the "regular" version, even if the version you were running was the "portable" one, as you would already have a rufus.ini, therefore, the new "regular" version that is downloaded will continue to run in portable mode.

Now, if you're still confused about what the above means, then you should probably just use the standard version of Rufus. Portability is really ONLY for people who need to work with an application on multiple computers, and want to have their settings preserved as they do so. If that doesn't apply to you, then you should download the regular version.

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    I've edited my answer to address the "link-only" issue. I am curious however how SuperUser is supposed to address the problem of potential copyright infrigement when copy/pasting content. In this case the content is CC-BY-SA, but if there was no permissive copyright provided, then I would surmise that a link-only answer would still be a lot better than straight copy/paste or obvious plagiarism of content. Also the other problem is that none of the links above pointed to the actual relevant entry from the FAQ, which, with the FAQ being quite long, made it easy to miss. – Akeo Oct 8 '18 at 9:53
  • Maybe I wasn't clear. If you look at the links for the original answer, you will see that they point to a specific entry in the FAQ (#....) as opposed to the FAQ in general, and this entry is not actually relevant to properly answering the question. On the other hand, the FAQ entry link I submitted is for the direct answer to that question. Please double check where the FAQ link from the original answer points to. I also explained my reasoning for linking to a different FAQ entry on account of the FAQ being quite long and therefore making it more difficult for people to find the actual answer. – Akeo Oct 8 '18 at 13:54
  • Just to point out - This answer is written by the author of the software and said FAQ e, so... erm... while less than obvious, in its current form I don't quite think the usual plagiarism rules come into play. Making it a little clearer this is the author of the software might help, but there's nothing wrong, at this point in copy and pasting something written by the author elsewhere. – Journeyman Geek Oct 8 '18 at 16:04
  • Okay, I guess I'm going to have to firmly disagree on a few points with @Ramhound. First of all, the original question is What is the difference between “Rufus” and “Rufus portable”? However the FAQ entries being quoted in the first answer are about binary identity (which doesn't explain what the portable version does) as well as connecting to the internet (which doesn't explain it either). I also believe it is very relevant to explain what portability means before indicating how the "portable" and " non-portable" versions of Rufus differ. As such, I believe my answer is what OP looked for. – Akeo Oct 8 '18 at 17:38
  • I understand that it would probably have been preferable to disclose that I am the main developer of the software + the main author of the FAQ. I try to do that most of the time, but didn't see it that relevant when I was originally just posting a link to it. One thing I also would like to point out is that, just like the software, the FAQ is the product of contributions from multiple people, so, while I may be its main author I still cannot claim full authorship for copy/paste and therefore need to rely on the terms of the license (which I surmise are covered through provision of the link). – Akeo Oct 8 '18 at 19:35

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