Basically, suitability for your purpose comes down to two things:
1) does it support your usb thingy
(for i in distros: answer("dunno"))
Knoppix probably does--it supports anything and the kitchen sink
2) does it have the tools you need
SuSE, most notably, doesn't have gcc. I wouldn't know about other programming languages.
I would suspect that a gentoo live cd has a lot of dev tools, but gentoo isn't the most newbie-friendly distro in the world.
In any case, look at the distro package index.