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Operating Systems Software Linux

Four Linux Live CDs, The Executive Summary 243

prostoalex writes "ExtremeTech published a review of 4 Linux live distributions that do not require installation and run off a CD. Knoppix, Feather Linux, Gnoppix and MEPIS Linux were researched, with Knoppix winning the competition (and Gnoppix not graded, since it's still in beta)." One more (of the seemingly infinite number of live distros) I've recently tried and been happy with is called Slax, and is what it sounds like -- a live Slackware distribution. Slax worked great with my finicky older Toshiba laptop. (However, appears to be down.)
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Four Linux Live CDs, The Executive Summary

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  • by corebreech ( 469871 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @07:59AM (#8080420) Journal
    Remember to tell people that before you evangelize them on Live CD's, or they'll come away thinking that it's Linux that's slow.

    Sadly, it's a mistake I made at the apartment complex where I live. They have two computers connected via cable modem to the Internet for use by the residents. One's running Win2K, the other Win98. Needless to say, the Win98 machine started crapping out after every single piece of spyware on the planet was eventually installed. They knew I was into computers, so they asked me to take a look. I sold them on the idea of using a Live CD (Knoppix) on the premise that never again would they have to worry about residents screwing around with the system.

    For awhile, this worked, but eventually people started getting frustrated. I think the speed in loading applications was the major factor (another was fear that one of the residents would walk away with the CD.) They've since gotten management to buy another copy of Win2K.

    Yes, I failed it. I assumed that they would understand that since it was running from a CD, that the experience would be slower.

    In hindsight, I should have exploited Knoppix's ability to be installed to the hard drive. It would have given them most of what they wanted, and it would've run at an acceptible speed.

    (yes, I know, *all* Linuxes can be installed to the hard drive, but the Knoppix install is basically the CD image sitting on the hard drive as read-only, which for this application had its virtues.)

    It's tragic in another sense... the apartment complex has a large number of people from all over the world who generally end up staying for relatively short periods of time, so their English isn't first rate. Good--and easy to use--i18n support would be a great help to many of them to be sure. I could have actually gotten interested in working on this aspect of Linux (really, KDE) as I've torn out quite a bit of hair trying to come to terms with this problem set, and having people who actually *use* foreign languages as my testers would have been invaluable, to say the least (I don't know a foreign language.)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:46AM (#8080529)
      Think Knoppix is slow? Imagine a bootable gentoo cd. It compiles the applications when you click on them. But its faster. Or something like that.
    • by halfnerd ( 553515 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:36AM (#8080622) Homepage
      IIRC Knoppix does _not_ install the image on the hard drive. Instead it lets the user partition the hard disk and copies over the files from the cd. Once installed on the hard drive, Knoppix is as read/write as any other "normal" GNU/Linux. Knoppix can even be up/down-graded to an ordinary Debian installation using apt, because it's Debian-based.
        • Tut tut. The parent was right. "The Knoppix install" you are mentioning in the grand-parent is in reality as described in o

          You on the other hand are pointing at what is at best a fun hack and certainly not the "default knoppix way". It' s also a rather pointless excersise. A normal Knoppix HD install is faster, can be updated through the apt-get update/upgrade routine and it also cannot be damaged when using non-root accounts (as you should). After all, in
          • It' s also a rather pointless excersise. A normal Knoppix HD install is faster, can be updated through the apt-get update/upgrade routine and it also cannot be damaged when using non-root accounts (as you should).

            Well, there are other considerations here. I wanted this to be set up in such a way as to demand as little of my time as possible, which the Knoppix image approach achieves. I was also concerned about liability... had I done a normal install, then I would be root, and then I would conceivably b
      • " IIRC Knoppix does _not_ install the image on the hard drive."

        during boot in the console type "knoppix tohd=/dev/hda1" can be other partitition besides hda1.

        It will then copy the CD image to that partition and run it from there. This is using the newest Knoppix btw. Check out the boot command cheatcodes noppix-cheat codes.txt
    • by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:42AM (#8080633) Homepage
      Slow is slow. Maybe they understand, maybe they don't. The windows 2000 machine is fast. The knoppix machine is slow. Reasons are irrelevant.
      • I'd like to evangelize for Linux though, so I don't want to do Linux installs that only serve to make people think Linux is slow.

        I'd like people to walk away thinking, "Hey, that Linux is pretty cool!", and then when they walk into a Walmart a year later, and they see the Linux PC selling for less than the Windows PC...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm using Damn Small Linux [] right now, and it's on a Toshiba 4015CDS Laptop. Only one partition on this box, so I started at the boot prompt:
      boot: knoppix tohd /dev/hda1
      and the cd was copied to a folder c:\knoppix on the
      win 98 fs. I use a boot disk, and now do not need the CD at all. I restore from a Memory Stick, and have MozillaFirebird, about 10 mb of files in a tarball on the usb stick. There is a menu item in fluxbox for DSL that automatically installs Mozilla Firebird and Flash 5. When done, all you
    • you can load the entire knoppix cd to ram and run it from there. it leaves around 300 megs for usage and runs a lot faster. unfortunately thats a pretty big if since a gig of ram isnt common yet.
    • If the knoppix live cd is too slow, maybe they could try starting fluxbox or icewm instead of the default KDE. On a slower computer, Knoppix on CD with KDE is utterly hopeless but fluxbox is okay (in my experience).
  • wow. (Score:5, Funny)

    by SinaSa ( 709393 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:06AM (#8080439) Homepage
    "However, appears to be down."

    Obviously the sysadmin for the webserver is some sort of psychic and chose to take the site down than receive a slashdotting.
    • by ( 745074 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:58AM (#8080562) Homepage
      Before the knoppix server dies, here's the tracker [] for the bittorrent [] so everyone can download knoppix.
      here for the bittorrent client.
      Also, MandrakeMove torrent []
    • Re:wow. (Score:5, Informative)

      by zelbinion ( 442226 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @10:45AM (#8080921)
      Er, no... perhaps the site has simply Moved []

      Knoppix is okay, but I really like having a very usable distro on one of those 185mb cd's. The small cd's actually fit in your pocket (typically of my coat) so I can have a useable linux distro wherever I go, AND it works on old hardware (read: PC's that can't boot off of usb keys).

      I don't have a laptop at work (don't travel enough to warrant the expense) but when I do travel, I usually end up having to "borrow" someone's PC when they aren't using it. This is pain to say the least. It is great to say: "hey, let me just use that old junky one in the corner." They usually respond: oh, you can't use that one, the hard drive is broken. Which is when I say "Perfect!", and they give me this very strange look....

      That said, slax is the only 'small' distro I've found that includes the utilities I need:

      1. dhcp
      2. Web browser that supports ssl AND PROXIES!!! (most small distros use the dillo web browser, which does not support proxies. Without proxy support, I can't get outside the corporate firewall, which sort of makes it hard to read slashdot.)
      3. ssh
      4. multi-desktop window manager [click to focus] (yes, I started on windows, flame me...)
      5. vnc viewer
      6. reasonably workable xterm (konsole and rxvt are my favorites)

      Also nice about slax is that is has full PCMCIA support. When I've used it on laptops (belonging to other people, of course) I've been able to use PCMCIA network cards (10/100 and some wireless cards) and it supports flash memory (so I can copy over my ssh keys). I love to have these features in one of those 50mb business card distro's, but they never seem to include a functional web browser, and do include a bunch of utilities I don't care about.

      (sigh) I guess I'll have to build my own distro, if I only knew how/had the time to learn...
      Until then, however, slax is the best distro I've found for what I need.
      • The small cd's actually fit in your pocket (typically of my coat) so I can have a useable linux distro wherever I goThat's gotta be one of the geekiest things I've ever heard. Congratulations.
      • The small cd's actually fit in your pocket (typically of my coat) so I can have a useable linux distro wherever I go
        That's gotta be one of the geekiest things I've ever heard. Congratulations.
      • Re:wow. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Afrosheen ( 42464 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @02:19PM (#8082052)
        You can build your own distro, and not to evangelize but PCLinuxOS 2k4 makes it easy.

        Basically you setup the distro the way you want it, apt-get rpms via synaptic (yes that's right, apt-get and rpm in the same sentence), setup all your bookmarks, address books, etc. Then you run the mklivecd shell script and voila! Your own distro, with everything you want and need and nothing you don't.

        Go to and hunt down the left side for the pclinuxos download link and forums link.
    • Re:wow. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Visualocity ( 68770 )
      "Obviously the sysadmin for the webserver is some sort of psychic and chose to take the site down than receive a slashdotting."

      With some great foresight too;)

      The domain's pending deletion from the PIR registry, so it's likely been off for a couple of months. Often when a domain is expired, its DNS is inactive. Domains usually are not deleted at the registry level for 70+ days after expiry.
    • Re:wow. (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's not entirely down, []
      Slax is by far the best live-CD I've used, keep up the good work (fits on a 20 min / 8 cm cd too).
  • DSL? (Score:5, Informative)

    by crache ( 654516 ) <josh AT crache DOT org> on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:07AM (#8080440) Homepage
    Im surprised they left out Damn Small Linux ( It packs a complete desktop package in 50 megs. This includes:
    word processor
    email client
    picture viewer
    image editor
    file manager
    instant messenger
    PDF viewer
    mp3 / cdplayer
    irc client
    ssh clients games
    sql database
    web server
    nintendo emulator..

    really knoppix packs a lot of stuff, but do you need it all? 50 megs will fit on an infamous "business card cd"
  • by radicalskeptic ( 644346 ) <> on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:11AM (#8080449)
    Has anyone had luck getting a Live CD for PPC to work? I've tried Gentoo's [], and it didn't boot properly on my PowerBook--but oddly enough booted up in my roommate's CD drive just fine... which is really odd considering we both have the exact same model PowerBook!
  • by zonix ( 592337 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:13AM (#8080452) Homepage Journal
    Slax worked great with my finicky older Toshiba laptop. (However, appears to be down.)

    So, seems to have been slashdotted before the actual story was posted? Hmmm, I'd say that's a rather curious temporal anomaly? :-)

    • by t0ny ( 590331 )
      So, seems to have been slashdotted before the actual story was posted? Hmmm, I'd say that's a rather curious temporal anomaly? :-)

      Maybe somebody used a r00t exploit on 'em...

    • by CleverNickName ( 129189 ) * <wil AT wilwheaton DOT net> on Sunday January 25, 2004 @06:28PM (#8083254) Homepage Journal
      So, seems to have been slashdotted before the actual story was posted? Hmmm, I'd say that's a rather curious temporal anomaly? :-)

      I suggest modifying the forward http array to emit an inverse slashdotyon pulse into the heart of the anomaly.

      I'll be in Ten Forward if you need me.
      • by zonix ( 592337 )
        I suggest modifying the forward http array to emit an inverse slashdotyon pulse into the heart of the anomaly.

        Ah, I see where you're going! An inverse slashdotyon pulse requires a lot of power, though? Perhaps, if we use the main deflector dish instead? We could reroute emergency power to the dish and then set the polarity to the http frequency required. This should restore bandwidth to the remote server's tcp/ip plasma coils a bit faster.

  • Morphix (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:15AM (#8080461) Journal
    Personally I've tried Morphix [] and I liked it very well. You can also install it to an Hard-Drive by double clicking an icon on the desktop if you dont want to boot from cd. It's based off of Debian GNU/Linux as well as Knoppix.

    There's 4 Official 'Flavors' of Morphix including:
    • LiteGUI - a small, lightweight desktop, that provides things like a wordprocessor, spreadsheet, browser, email client, IM-software and media player (avi / mpeg).
    • Gnome - a desktop for people that want more than the basic tools. However, there is little you can't do with this cd image (full printing support, photo-camera tools, a few games and OpenOffice to work with Word-documents, for example)
    • KDE - a desktop that is between LightGUI and Gnome when it comes to the amount of tools pre-installed. Like Gnome, there is support for multiple users, but it doesn't contain OpenOffice, and hence doesn't deal with Word-documents as well.
    • Game - a small lightweight desktop with only a browser and a lot of Open Source games, and one or two Free commercial demo's/games.

    In addition to those 4 Official 'Flavors' there's quite a few Derivitves [] including ones for HAM Radio users and a MAME system.
    • Re:Morphix (Score:3, Interesting)

      Games? Try Dosbox:
  • Slax (Score:5, Informative)

    by crache ( 654516 ) <josh AT crache DOT org> on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:18AM (#8080470) Homepage
    The poster mentions Slax, and its website being down: It is currently accessible at but not for long..
  • by MrRTFM ( 740877 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:18AM (#8080473) Journal
    The great thing about Linux (as far as home users go) is the number of 'free' games and utilities installed by default. It's something to play around with.

    People aren't going to install Linux and jump into a spreadsheet for the boss - they want to stuff around - and that's whats good; there are a heap of small games and odd utilities to keep the newbie amused for a reasonable amount of time.

    With the live CDs, this is a great way to show home users *easily* what sort of stuff is installed for FREE with Linux.

    Now, if there was just an easy way for them to access their Outlook email...
  • The speed of live CDs is becoming less of an issue as RAM sizes get larger. On my 512Mb notebook, Knoppix runs just fine.

    What I find more interesting than "standard Linux on a CD" is the concept of packaging a specific application along with a live CD. For example, the systemrescueCD boots up and gives a good set of tools for doing backups/restores of your disks.

    What works for backup/restore also works for games, demos, even large-scale applications that do not require intensive local data storage. The advantage of a live CD based on something like Knoppix is that it will run on practically any PC out there, booting in less time than it would normally take to install and configure.

    There is little reason why a lot of software should be hard-installed onto PCs, and many reasons why it's a pain in lots of cases.

    The counter argument is that "yes, but I want to be able to switch back from my game to my other applications." But this ignores the huge market for single-purpose kiosk-style systems, in home, in shops, and in business.

    I would estimate that 30% or more of all PCs run only a few specific applications, and that most of the future expansion is into kiosk-style areas where live CDs are a perfect answer.

    Why is this interesting? Because Linux has a significant lead in this technology mainly thanks to Knoppix. Thus a large part of Linux's future growth may well come from a native technology, which is much nicer than trying to win market share by imitating Windows.

    • Here are some instances I can think of:

      - home entertainment systems
      - small office use (with data saved on network disk)
      - education and training (data on USB drives)
      - standardized corporate desktops (data on network)
      - cybercafe workstations
      - point-of-sale terminals
      - industrial kiosks
      - voting systems
      - automated tellers
      - DJ workstations
      - application demos (both standalone and interactive)
      - games

    • Custom Live CDs? (Score:5, Informative)

      by quinkin ( 601839 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @10:00AM (#8080666)
      I feel I should put in a plug for Linux Live [] at this point.

      Although I haven't used it myself it is what the slax distribution was created with.

      To quote from their website:
      "Linux Live is a set of bash scripts which allows you to create own LiveCD from every Linux distribution. Just install your favourite distro, remove all unnecessary files (for example man pages and all other files which are not important for you) and then download and run these scripts. "


  • by turkeyphant ( 648612 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:21AM (#8080481) Homepage Journal

    The article only seems to mention using these distros as a means to introduce oneself easily to Linux. While this is an obvious use of Linux-on-CD type distros, it's by no means the only one. Personally, I've found these things to be fast enough for the difference to be barely perceptible from proper installs.

    I've been using Knoppix [] for a while now and have found it to be really rather awesome. The possible uses are almost limitless and this will improve even more if the ability to write to NTFS volumes is ever introduced.

    For example: Recently a friend managed to fuck up his Window XP install beyond repair. I burned him a copy of the ISO and Knoppix sorted it out in minutes. It's blisteringly fast, the hardware auto-detection has to be seen to be believed and the amount of software on that one disc is mindblowing. It's certainly worth keeping a CD copy handy...

    However, I'm intrigued as to why MandrakeMove [] wasn't included in the article. I much prefer to use Knoppix because of its ability to mount hard drives, but MandrakeSoft have been very perceptive in their implementation of USB keys. By carrying around configuration options and personal data on a USB storage device, anyone equipped with a MandrakeMove disc can convert any CD-bootable PC around the world into an equivalent of their home desktop. Many people have predicted that this could become a lot more commonplace in the future where computer users would have to rely a lot less on a home workstation-centric lifestyle. I haven't investigated, but I would guess that persistence can be gained in Knoppix by somehow copying the contents of the ramdrive somewhere more permanent.

    • by cxvx ( 525894 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:39AM (#8080519) Homepage

      As for getting knoppix to do the same, it's just a matter of adding a home=/dev/sda1 (or your actual pendrive location) parameter during startup.

      It could be that this is automated/autodetected with mandrake though.

    • by yellowcord ( 607995 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:12AM (#8080579)
      I do it already. With Knoppix 3.3 theres a program that will make a permanent home directory. Point it at your USB key drive at boot and you are laughing.
      "knoppix home=/dev/sda1 screen=1280x1024"

      If you figure out how to edit the ISO (I'm guessing loopback device) you could even get the CD to do this automatically.
    • I much prefer to use Knoppix because of its ability to mount hard drives, but MandrakeSoft have been very perceptive in their implementation of USB keys.

      Actually, MandrakeMove mounts the hard drives just fine. The beta had icons on the desktop for it, but they took them out for the final (which I think is good). Over the holidays I used MandrakeMove on PC's of friends and family, and it worked very well, got much done. It's slick, fast (!), Just Works (TM).

      Yes, MandrakeMove is a glaring omission.

    • blisteringly fast?

      I've only used Knoppix when I was waiting for a replacement hard drive but definatly was not fast. It's purpose in my mind is to be used when your regular operating system is either trashed, or in my case, not accessable. In no way should this setup be recommended for people to use linux fulltime. It's good for troubleshooting, other than that, install the operating system to the computer and hope the user doesn't fuck it up too quickly
  • Create your own (Score:5, Informative)

    by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:24AM (#8080487) Homepage
    I followed these instructions on the Linux Journal site to create a Fedora and RedHat 9 based live CD:

    Only sticking point was the initial partition. I tried with a loopback mounted ISO but there were permission problems. Then went to a NFS mounted share. It worked but required a second machine. Finally just stuck another drive inside and created a bunch of 700M partitions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:25AM (#8080491)
    It is made by a german Knoppix hacker named Kano, who has a big page of patches for Knoppix here:
    It comes with kernel 2.4.23 patched with forcedeth and XFS.
    It uses grub, Xfree86 4.3, is based on Debian/sid.
    ACPI and DMA enabled by default (can be disabled with acpi=off respectively nodma)

    The forum (german and english):

    Download: x/
    Torrent: IX-X-MAS-2003- PREVIEW.iso.torrent
  • To: CEO
    From: John Smith, IT Manager, MCSE
    Subject: Four Linux Live CDs

    Dear Sir:

    I know your time is precious, so I'll just provide an executive summary.

    * Linux doesn't run Microsoft Office
    * Linux doesn't make Bill Gates any money
    * Linux users are commies. (I read it from my friends on the Microsoft newsgroups. They're always right.)
    * Running Linux makes us Unamerican (possible fear of PATRIOT Act backlash?)

    SUMMARY: Avoid Linux. Buy Windows. (No, this has nothing to do with the fact that Microsoft just off
  • Giant leap forward (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saphena ( 322272 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @08:57AM (#8080560) Homepage
    The ability to run linux straight from the CD with no low level hard disk interference may not be enough of itself to encourage investigation and/or take up of linux by Windows users but it certainly represents a leap forward.

    Most Windows users are not computer nerds, they're just people who *use* computers - installing an operating system onto a hard disk, with or without risk to their existing setup, is just way beyond their skills or desires.

    Speed issues can be helped out if not resolved by use of RAM disk as demonstrated by
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:16AM (#8080585)
    Kurumin and Kalango (yeah, like I was going to give the links... lamer!).

    They're pretty much Knoppix adaptations, knoppix options still present and all, but an interesting fact:

    Some small VARs here sell computers without OSes and they demo their computers with Kurumin, which not only eases the selling process (try telling your customer to believe the computer will work), but also require much less work, since there's no installing to do... and more importantly, no uninstalling, too!

    Kinda of a frightening experience, to see Linux in TV... to M$, of course! ;-D
  • by Trailwalker ( 648636 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:27AM (#8080600)
    I suspect that there are a lot of people like me who work long hours and don't have time to do a lenghty install. Knoppix allows me to enjoy and explore Linux in the little time I have available.
  • java desktop? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by roqetman ( 217708 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:28AM (#8080601) Homepage
    I got a copy of sun's java desktop from the linuxworld expo. It is basically a gnome desktop that boots from a CD; not too bad although I haven't played with it much.
  • by branchingfactor ( 650391 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:34AM (#8080618)
    Given the high chance of hardware incompatibilities when installing linux on laptops, linux live cds are fantastic for laptops. You boot the live cd, fiddle with the options, and see if the hardware you care about works (eg., display, external display, ethernet, wireless, etc.). If not, you try another distribution. I tried knoppix, gnoppix, morphix, as well as straight debian on my ibm t40p. Only knoppix was able to get everything working. After I got it working, I installed it to the harddrive. The biggest problems with knoppix are (1) it uses kde instead of gnome and (2) it has its own package structure that is incompatible with debian. So apt-get dist-upgrade or even apt-get upgrade will break everything. I've only had success upgrading individual packages with apt.
    • The biggest problems with knoppix are (1) it uses kde instead of gnome.

      Why is that a problem?
    • by darnok ( 650458 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @10:32AM (#8080830)
      > The biggest problems with knoppix are (1) it
      > uses kde instead of gnome and (2) it has its own
      > package structure that is incompatible with
      > debian. So apt-get dist-upgrade or even apt-get
      > upgrade will break everything. I've only had
      > success upgrading individual packages with apt.

      I've done both apt-get upgrade and apt-get dist-upgrade several times (over a period of a few months) on my installed-to-hard-disc Knoppix box, and haven't had a problem with it.

      I've also installed an extra zillion games via apt-get for my kids to play on the same box, and they work fine too.

      If you're having problems with this, it might be worth reporting it to the The PC I used is a grey box clone running an old Celeron 533 with no "tricky" hardware whatsoever; maybe you're hitting problems with the specific hardware you're using.
  • 2.6 Kernel Live CD (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:37AM (#8080625)
    Is there a Live CD which uses any version 2.6 kernel?

    For that matter, (I am quite new to Linux, like using it a lot but don't know much about the underlying code), how does one go about compiling a LiveCD ISO image with specific software?

    Ideally, I would like to take Knoppix, take out a lot of the stuff I don't use much, add in a couple of specialized progs, and get some config options which suit me more than the defaults, and then continue using this as a read-only LiveCD. Anyone to point me in the direction of a decent (beginners level) tutorial?

    I realise this isn't Ask Slashdot, but its not too far OT. Sorry anyway.
  • by marafa ( 745042 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:43AM (#8080637) Homepage Journal
    what about MandrakeMove? from
  • by dargaud ( 518470 ) <> on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:53AM (#8080650) Homepage
    I use knoppix a lot for testing hardware. In 2 minutes you can tell what's wrong with a PC, if it's worth keeping and more.

    I also learnt about Quantian right after I finished building my 24 processor cluster []

    But how can you work with one of those ? You can surf the web but that's about all. You cannot write to NTFS partitions, so that precludes their use on a Windows machine as an alternate OS. If you can't save files it's useless as far as I can tell.

    Please, please, disprove me.

    • Knoppix and many of the others allow persistent data, either by saving to an existing partition or things like USB drives. Knoppix in particular allows you to mount FAT and NTFS, though I have not tried writing to NTFS.

      MandrakeMove, another LiveCD, has support for USB drives so you could maintain your working environment (settings, documents, etc.) across any PC.

      You can also configure some to automount an NFS home partition.
    • Just remount the drive RW and it works, though not really reliably.
      But if I use the CD with a USB drive (Nokia 5510 phone, MP3 storage area ;) I get pretty decent system I can have up and running anywhere - with stuff I want.
      I'm slowly running short on the USB diskspace though, so... I think I'll just switch to morphix and burn whatever I need to the CD.

      Practical application: Development and control system for a custom-built device model.
  • Gnoppix for me (Score:4, Informative)

    by BiggyP ( 466507 ) <philh@theo[ ] ['pen' in gap]> on Sunday January 25, 2004 @09:55AM (#8080655) Homepage Journal
    while it doesn't seem to use all of the most advanced technologies that Knoppix provides, which makes load times slightly longer, Gnoppix is rather good, and as far as user experience goes it really outdoes Knoppix with the GNOME desktop.
  • by ParadoxDruid ( 602583 ) * on Sunday January 25, 2004 @10:02AM (#8080670) Homepage
    Straight from boot from the CD, Knoppix can use something like 6 or 7 different GUIs, including KDE, Gnome, IceWM, FluxBox, and more.

    That's a useful capability that's often overlooked-- On an older machine of mine, running Knoppix in KDE-mode was pretty slow, but it ran fast as anything in FluxBox mode.
  • by axxackall ( 579006 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @10:19AM (#8080743) Homepage Journal
    700MB is certainly not enough for modern system, even if compressed. But where to get Live DVD? I understand that mostof linux distributing sites still afraid bandwidth problems, but what about live dvd making instructions at least?

    Right now it looks like Linux community stack to CD. Is it because nobody needs Live DVD and I am the only one here with DVD-ROM hardware?

    • This might be a little too far fetched, but let's take the idea one step further - you can generally have a Linux distro with just about all you ever need installed on it within around 3.5GB or so. So how about a Live Linux DVD-RW distro? It stores all your data right back on the DVD.

      Or have the USB pen drive companies even considered distributing a Live Linux CD with their USB pen drives? Same concept - an entire working environment anywhere you go!

      Ofcourse, the latter is more realisable right now, but y
    • While reading all this stuff today I came up with an idea.

      I have a stack of 7 Mame cds sitting here, and about 3 more filled with console games intended for use with Mame. Anyway I think it'd be cool to finally put all these discs together on a dvd (since I have a dvd burner) and create a linux distro that boots from the dvd to house it all. Set it all up to where you throw in the disc and you can play the entire mame collection anywhere.

      This will enable me to eventually create a standup arcade machin
  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @10:22AM (#8080765) Homepage Journal
    Given that pen drives are now at the 256M to 512M range, and a CD is 680M, how long until we see USB pen-drive distros?

    And given that READING flash is pretty quick, if the drive supports 480M USB2.0, then it *should* be pretty quick, unlike an older, slower CD drive.

    Of course, a modern CD drive should be pretty fast on read time (though seeks are still slow), so maybe a pen drive wouldn't be much better (except for being read/write).

    Anybody have any experience in this?
    • I think that's the problem. I've certainly never seen any BIOS option where you can set your boot device to be USB.

      But, apart from that technical difficult I agree the idea is good. For basic tools to move around, the size and speed should be sufficient.

      • I think that's the problem. I've certainly never seen any BIOS option where you can set your boot device to be USB.

        Well, it exists. I've seen it. Googling for proof, I found this page right away: e sh ooting_resources.asp

        Here's part of the second answer in this FAQ:

        Booting from USB Port

        Addonics USB DVD, CD-ROM, CDRW and hard drives have been tested to boot successfully from the latest version of Phoenix BIOS version 4 release 6. Latest Award BIOS share
    • You can (Score:2, Informative)

      by zentu ( 584197 )
      If you search (the site for helping english knoppix users) there has be someone who did it around a year ago, what he did was use a 512MB pen drive, and remastered knoppix to fit it.

      Then he tried it, what he found was that by enabling the USB Legacy device option (and/or USB Keyboard or Mouse option) it could be used to boot.

  • MandrakeMorph? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Frodo420024 ( 557006 ) <henrik&fangorn,dk> on Sunday January 25, 2004 @10:33AM (#8080833) Homepage Journal
    As others noticed, omitting MandrakeMove is strange. It's very slick, even the beta was solid as a rock, and I got a lot of work done.

    Now, this and Morphix ("Unfortunately, noone can be told what the Morphix is") got me thinking:

    It should be technically feasible to automate the creation of customized .ISO files for live Linux distros:
    Suppose MandrakeSoft sets up some heavy servers with a shop frontend (pricing just an example):

    1. $20: Choose packages and have ISO created for download.
    2. $10 Have a CD burned and mailed to you.
    3. $10 Reconfigure your package choice and get a fresh ISO.
    4. $10 Have a fresh ISO made out using the current kernel/KDE/OpenOffice/whatever.
    5. $20 Upgrade to DVD size image.
    6. $?? Support (not much to do here)
    7. $20 Printed manual
    You'll have your name put somewhere into it so you won't have to type it in (thus you won't like to redistribute it wildly, either), and you'd set the default language, permanent storage options etc.


    • Never install or update applications manually.
    • Update whenever you feel like it - often or rarely.
    • Never have a failed dependency or inconsistent versions after getting an update.
    • No product activation or other licensing hassle.
    • You can't mess up your install (except by physically destroying the CD :).
    • Hackers can't put backdoors on your machine.
    • Virus infection not possible.
    • Even a harddrive crash doesn't destroy your install.
    • You can even run without any hard drive in the first place.
    A public library could run their computers off a stack of these and not have to worry about people hacking the config - nothing to hack. Even a stolen CD is not a problem, you just bring out a backup copy. It's all Free Software anyway, you can let anyone steal it.

    The selling of individual ISO's is automated, the distributor merely maintains the packages on the server and collects the money. Sends a donation to OSDL once in a while :)

    Any reason this should not work?

  • by Dr. Faustroll ( 745092 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @10:37AM (#8080868)

    At LinuxWorld last week, John "Mad Dog" Hall gave an excellent talk that, among other recommendations, made a crucial point about introducing newcomers to Linux:

    Don't overwhelm them with ten different applications to do the same thing - pick one, and pick well.

    This is the problem I've seen with distros like Knoppix - while they're great resources for experienced Linux users who want to have all of their favorite tools available anywhere, the number of apps is too much for newbies to handle. If you want to turn someone off Linux, just tell them "Well, for word processing you could use Abiword, or KWord, or OpenOffice. And look, you can use Dillo, or Mozilla, or Konqueror, or Firebird as your web browser. Isn't this great!" - I guarantee eyes will rapidly glaze over. The "let them explore the CD" approach is no better - the menus are cluttered and unintuitive to the newcomer, and the plethora of application interfaces with wildly different visual styles and conventions will finish confusing and scaring them.

    If you really want to introduce people to Linux using a LiveCD, I recommend taking the time to make a custom CD that carefully selects a subset of the available applications that will be both interesting and accessible to your audience. This is actually quite easy and fun to do, starting from Knoppix (or Damn Small Linux, or Morphix, or...), and is one of the most useful things you can do to help Linux gain acceptance by a broader audience.

  • by phatvibez ( 518108 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @10:50AM (#8080952) Homepage
    I can't believe nobody has mentioned Textar's PCLinuxOS project yet. It's based on Mandrake 9.2 plus Texstars enhancements.

    You can find more info here: PCLinuxOS Homepage []

    It's still early in development but looks really promising! They just released Preview 5 on the 20th.

    • It's all becoming just a blur. The differences between these Live CD's that is. The market right now is just way overcrowed with precious little difference between the actual Live CD's. I'm at the point now where I say pick one, ANY one, it just doesn't make much difference. Gnome is gnome and KDE is kde. The major difference beyond that is that some of these distros have more recent versions of applications.

      If you want my opinion about what to try if you still haven't used a LiveCD yet try Knoppix, Morhpi
  • I like most of the live distros that I have seen and think that they are one of the keys to getting more people to try, like, enjoy, and move to Linux. MEPIS is probably my favorite but Knoppix is right up there too.

    I'd like to see a couple of changes (hopefull improvments) come along sometime soon. In Knoppix, I'd like to see a MEPIS like "install me" tool. In both MEPIS and Knoppix I'd like to see fewer default applications (don't need three or four word processors or several spreadsheets).

    These are
  • by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Sunday January 25, 2004 @01:24PM (#8081770)
    If you don't want all that bulk of Knoppix, then try two of its derivatives:

    1. Damn Small Linux [], which is 50MB and fits on those business card CDs. Keep a few in your wallet, so you can pass them out to friends.

    2. Flonix [], which is 60MB and fits on those small CDs and also has another distro that fits on bootable USB Flash pen drives. I have a combination of DSL and Flonix on my 64MB keychain USB flash drive, along with DOS, and the Redhat network installer (all bootable from my syslinux menu). Talk about a useful keychain :)
  • Maybe it's just me, but boy was that a lousy review IMHO!

    The scores appear largely random: since nothing bad was said about three of the four distros, giving them a score below 10 seems completely arbitrary. Some of the minor negatives of live CDs are well-known, such as impact of low reliability and speed of typical consumer CD drives. None of this was ever mentioned.

    The distros were evaluated on exactly one machine, whose characteristics were never specified. The article missed the whole class of bi

  • Just FWIW: there are also a handful of *BSD based Live CDs. Among them:

  • ...after his Win ME install decided to crap out. I had a Knoppix disk so I took it over to him, showed him how to use gaim, mozilla, and xmms. He's happy now. I explained that things might be slower than he's used to because it's loading off of the CD, but he doesn't even care. Considering this is pretty much all most people want to do with their computers, this is definitely a good way to win converts.

    I also can't count the times knoppix has saved me when i do Something Stupid to a computer, or when win
  • Doesn anyone know if any of these distrubutions can run entirely in ram disk?

    Many of the newer dual DDR system that sell today have 1 Gig of ram or more.

    Having a live CD that can run eniterly from RAm would be sweet. I have to keep reminding friends that the I just gave them runs slow because...{insert tech jargon here}

    Then they lose interest....

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama