NirLauncher is a free launcher from NirSoft that allows you to start portable applications from a USB drive. The launcher program already comes with more than 100 useful tools for Windows admins. With a few mouse clicks, you can add the Sysinternals Suite tools or your own portable applications.
NirLauncher is a real contender to PStart, which I chose in my tutorial for creating a bootable rescue USB flash drive. NirLauncher’s main advantage is that it already comes with a ton of nifty free admin tools.
The only downside of this free launcher is that adding and removing tools is a bit cumbersome because you have to edit a text file (nirlauncher.nlp). With PStart, you can just drag new apps to the user interface and remove them with a mouse click.
What I like about NirLauncher is that the tool categories are separated by tabs. If you have many tools on your rescue stick, you will like this feature. What I am missing here is the search function. If you forget the exact name of a tool, you have to scroll through all the entries.
Perhaps the coolest feature of NirLauncher is that you can add all Sysinternal tools in one go. NirSoft provides a configuration file for this purpose. All you have to do is to copy all the Sysinternal tools to a separate folder on your flash drive together with sysinternals.nlp. Then you have to drag sysinternals.nlp from the Sysinternals folder to the NirLauncher user interface.
You’ll find the Sysinternals Suite in the Packages menu. You can also switch between packages by using the F3 and F4 key, or Ctrl-1 and Ctrl-2. Each package has its own user interface with its own tabs. This makes this free launcher the perfect utility for tool suites.
There are three things you have to consider when you prepare your rescue stick for NirLauncher. First, some of the NirSoft apps might trigger false alarms in your antivirus software. This is because system tools sometimes show similar characteristics to malware or hacking tools, which lead the heuristics modules of virus scanners to the wrong conclusion.
Second, I recommend extracting the NirLauncher folder directly to your flash drive and not to your hard drive. It might cause problems if you run NirLauncher first from the hard drive and then copy it to your USB drive.
Third, even though all of the NirSoft tools are portable apps, not all of them will work under Windows PE.
I have tried NirLauncher under Windows 7 and Windows PE 3.0. Hence, you could use the free launcher as an alternative to PStart in step 2 in my tutorial for creating a rescue stick and launch NirLauncher automatically whenever you boot up from your USB stick. Another option would be to launch both PStart and NirLauncher at startup. Yet another way would be to simply add NirLauncher to the PStart menu. This is my choice. And if you want a geekier looking free launcher, you should check out RocketDock.
I will skim over all the tools that come with NirLauncher these days to see which tools are still missing in the 4sysops free admin utility list. If you would like to review one of the tools for 4sysops, please let me know.