"If Linux can be configured this way, I would need no hard drive, and the created docs/info could be saved on the USB drive memory stick. This way, no hard drive means no moving parts, which means better battery life, and I won't have to buy a hard drive which at the best deal I can find is about $130 US after taxes, shipping, etc. And how cool would it be to run a laptop off of a memory stick! Unfortunately, I know nothing about Linux, but this might be a cool problem to solve for those smart and knowledgeable enough to figure it out. Thanks for any help you can provide!"
asks: "I have an IBM Thinkpad 390 Laptop, PII 266Mhz, 128 MB RAM, with USB 1.0 port and a 3.5 floppy drive being the most important stats I would assume for this question. So my hard drive died, and I've been using a DOS boot disk and a program called Mel to do my word processing.Would it be possible to boot the laptop in Linux using a 3.5 disk, then using drivers access the USB memory stick that had an adequate Linux system on it?"
With USB thumb drives getting to be as large as 512 megs, memory sticks weighing in at 1 gig, and Compact Flash cards getting into the 2 gig range, this might not be such a bad idea. There's the Linux Mobile System
that looks to implement something like this, but are there other distributions or similar projects that might be of interest? If you were going to put together a custom system for something like this, how would you do it?