I am just starting out with the Arduino, and I want to develop and create sketches at my school. The only problem is that the school's computer doesn't allow any application to run if app tries to create a folder on its hard-drive. Are there any ways to make the standard IDE portable, or is there another portable option?
The standard IDE is portable as it runs as a stand-alone Java application. As such it requires no "installation" so to speak, and projects exist. So if you have it on rewritable media (e.g. a USB flash drive) and you store your projects on that same media, you in effect have a portable IDE. It will (I'm pretty sure) however, keep all it's build artifacts in temporary folders under the current users HOME directory.
There are a couple of projects working on online IDEs for Arduino. My project, called wifino, is probably the most developed at this point. You can try out the beta at http://ide.wifino.com. Code still needs to be moved to the Arduino using avrdude, but we're working on a deployment client for windows, mac/linux, and (drum roll) iPhone using 802.11b/g networks.
I ran into issues with this while teaching arduino to one of my classes. Without admin access, you can't install the device driver for the arduino and with Windows 7 the JVM is not installed by default.
I built live debian DVDs that have the IDE installed and just have them boot the cds to work with the arduinos. Should work fine until campus IT gets wise and blocks booting from CD/DVDs
I don't believe that @vicatcu has the complete answer to the question. In reference to Processing 2.0 to 2.2, not only the sketchbook location, but also the preferences file itself, modes and other folders are placed on the hard drive. But with a few quick modifications to a file that strongly urges against modification, we can achieve portable Processing.
As @vicatcu mentioned, the sketchbook folder location can be set in the IDE via File>Preferences>Sketchbook location. But I'd suggest not to do that; simply set that path with the defaults.txt file. Additionally, the settings path must be set.
These sketchbook and settings paths can be modified in "lib/defaults.txt" by uncommenting lines #sketchbook.path= and #settings.path=. You can use local paths such as "sketchbook.path=sketchbook" which will put these folders into the Processing IDE folder. The folders will then be created when you start up Processing. Note that when relative directories are used, the Processing folder must be user-writeable, so don't put it into "C:/Program Files". Also, Processing should not be running until after you make the changes to the defaults.txt file.