LinuxQuestions.org
Visit Jeremy's Blog.
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - Desktop
User Name
Password
Linux - Desktop This forum is for the discussion of all Linux Software used in a desktop context.

Notices



Reply
 
Search this Thread
Old 09-17-2008, 06:57 PM   #1
Bradfirj92
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Sep 2008
Distribution: CentOS 5 / Fedora Core 10
Posts: 18

Rep: Reputation: 0
Help to choose a portable Distro


First off, sorry for the undescriptive title. I also wasn't sure where to post this, did I guess right?

Here's my situation. I'm a student at a college where most classes are conducted using dedicated computer suites or a collection of laptops.
They all have MS Office 2003 and the desktops are running XP Pro, but I'm not entirely sure of the spec, they aren't important anyway.
My problem is with the Notebooks used in some classes, they are relatively new Dell Inspirions, but they only have 1GB of Memory and are being strangled by the double-whammy of Vista AND a package called ‘Learning Centre’ (an inter-school file management system), which seems to be very badly optimized.

Since I found that I can boot into DSL from my flash drive, I’ve started looking for a slightly heavier and prettier distro that I can use for everyday work.

A few simple requirements:
1. Boot from USB
2. OpenOffice (Binary would be nice, since compiling to flash memory is slow.
3. Firefox (duh?)

Also would be very nice:
- Persistent home directory, automatically mount /home/ to a folder on the flash drive, rather than to RAM (Or write contents to folder on shutdown, and read again on load.)
- Able to edit config files and settings from within the distro (not having to re-package it every time I change a setting.)

I’m not a linux noobie, I’m comfortable with bash and I know how stuff works, but I’ve never attempted to create something like this.

Is there any way I can do this, with special attention to the “Would be very nice” part, given that anyone can just stick a live distro on a flash drive, I’m looking specifically for this persistence.

Thanks,
Richard

Last edited by Bradfirj92; 09-17-2008 at 07:15 PM.
 
Old 09-17-2008, 07:32 PM   #2
sxa
Senior Member
 
Registered: Aug 2003
Location: Austin, TX
Distribution: Mac OS 10.7 / CentOS 6(servers) / xubuntu 13.04
Posts: 1,186

Rep: Reputation: 49
http://www.puppylinux.org

Looks like Puppy Linux might be your best bet. I haven't tried it yet but have been meaning to, in fact I might give it a shot tonight on an old Laptop that a co-worker was going to throw away.
 
Old 09-17-2008, 07:34 PM   #3
amani
Senior Member
 
Registered: Jul 2006
Location: Kolkata, India
Distribution: 64-bit GNU/Linux, Kubuntu64, Fedora QA, Slackware,
Posts: 2,758

Rep: Reputation: Disabled
Why don't you make a multiboot system. Just resize your partitions and install Linux.

Otherwise get a big flash drive (8/16/32+ GB) and install almost ANY Linux distro you want. See www.pendrivelinux.com too
 
Old 09-17-2008, 07:49 PM   #4
Bradfirj92
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Sep 2008
Distribution: CentOS 5 / Fedora Core 10
Posts: 18

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
Because I doubt I could get away with that.

Don't ask me why, but they specifically make sure you don't keep the same laptop for more than one term.

Probably to stop people like me *evil grin*
 
Old 09-17-2008, 10:08 PM   #5
pinniped
Senior Member
 
Registered: May 2008
Location: planet earth
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 1,732

Rep: Reputation: 50
Any Linux distribution can be made to boot from USB.

You can install OpenOffice on any Linux distribution of your choice.

Same with FireFox.

You may want to customize the final setup slightly to reduce read/write access to the USB stick by using 'tmpfs' for certain mount points. Also keep '/home' on a different partition on the USB stick.

One of the biggest problems will be with the setup for network hardware and the video. You may have to customize your own hardware detection and setup. Another alternative is to slightly customize a Live CD (and install to USB stick) - that way the hardware detection and setup tools of the distribution take care of most (if not all) of your needs.

Customizing the live distribution is a matter of editing the 'fstab' file and tinkering with the 'initrd' image.

Last edited by pinniped; 09-17-2008 at 10:09 PM.
 
Old 09-18-2008, 02:46 AM   #6
Bradfirj92
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Sep 2008
Distribution: CentOS 5 / Fedora Core 10
Posts: 18

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
Any more info on that would be much appreciated pinniped, my USB drive is 4GB, so I should be able to install Gentoo while still leaving some file space?
 
Old 09-18-2008, 06:40 AM   #7
pinniped
Senior Member
 
Registered: May 2008
Location: planet earth
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 1,732

Rep: Reputation: 50
You can start by simply installing to the USB stick - create a partition for 'boot', one for the root filesystem '/', and one for /home. I usually don't create one for 'boot' because I rarely ever make changes to the boot directory. After installing, you can tweak things a bit.

After the 'initrd' image and its init script do their job, they switch to the real 'init' and switch you to your final root filesystem. The real init then processes the startup scripts which includes mounting all 'auto' filesystems via "mount -a" (or similar). What you want to do is add a startup script so that after the root filesystem is mounted, you create several 'tmpfs' systems, copy the contents of certain directories to them, then mount these r/w over the original directories (like /etc, /var). You also want to edit 'fstab' so the root filesystem is read-only and '/tmp' is the mountpoint for a tmpfs filesystem. The use of all that tmpfs will eat at your RAM, but that's a tradeoff to be made against numerous r/w operations to the '/' filesystem. (pppd for example writes to /etc/ppp/, various things including logs are written to /var, and just about anything gets written to /tmp) The aim is to minimize the r/w operations to the flash blocks and hopefully make the USB stick last longer.
 
Old 09-18-2008, 10:55 AM   #8
Bradfirj92
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Sep 2008
Distribution: CentOS 5 / Fedora Core 10
Posts: 18

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 0
I think I'm going to end up using my Creative Zen Vision : M for this instead, avoids the problems with multiple r/w on flash bocks, but I'll still be looking to mount tmp to tmpfs. Why did you suggest making the root filesystem read only? Does my decision now to use a non-solid disk change that at all?
 
  


Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Portable VM-supporting distro? SlowCoder General 2 01-17-2008 08:24 PM
Distro with portable capability? (Looking for advice) kendall14 Linux - Distributions 1 12-21-2006 09:29 AM
which distro is best for a portable gnucash? rockets Linux - Newbie 2 08-09-2006 08:09 AM
Is there a portable distro? stoneyg431 Linux - Newbie 5 04-09-2006 08:34 PM
portable distro for amd64 arch escargot22026 Linux - Distributions 5 12-28-2004 12:41 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:52 PM.

Main Menu
Advertisement
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
identi.ca: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration