Try Linux ISO's at Boot without installing or partitioning
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I totally agree with your reasoning ... I just don't think you should focus on .iso files as your first choice (and I don't think you should be using grub, unless you truly intend to install Linux and multi-boot).
EXAMPLE SCENARIO #1:
1. Download your Puppy Linux 4.x .iso
2. Beg, borrow .. or buy a copy of VMWare workstation
<= Your company very possibly already has one
You can also download and install an evalation copy
You do *not* need to install this on your PC, if VMWare
Workstation is already installed on some other PC.
3. Create a new VM. Specfy "Linux, Other, kernel 2.6". Give yourself
a 20GB hard drive (you'll only use a couple of hundred MB on your
4. Copy your .iso to the PC with VMWare workstation.
[Edit] your VM to mount the .iso file as a CD
[Start] the VM.
Hit <Esc> during boot to boot from CD
Finish booting Puppy Linux (from the virtual CD)
Go into [System], Install
This will "install" Puppy Linux to your virtual hard drive
Voila! Virtual Linux!
5. From now on, you'll be able to boot Puppy Linux from VMWare (without
needing the "CD"). You'll be able to run Linux concurrently inside
Windows. You can Samba-mount Windows shares, run a web server,
etc etc: whatever you want.
6. If your copy of VMWare Workstation is on a different PC, you can
download and install a *free* copy of VMWare Player to your PC, then
simply copy the VM files.
Voila! Free, fully functional copy - wherever you want to run it!
EXAMPLE SCENARIO #2:
1. Download the .iso file.
2. Make a bootable CD from your Puppy Linux .iso
<= *don't* use the .iso.
Spend 25 cents/15 minutes and burn a CD. Make
sure you mark the PC "bootable" in your burn software.
3. Boot Puppy Linux from the CD (the "real" CD).
4. Insert a USB stick. Puppy Linux should detect it.
5. Go into [System], Install.
Walk through the "Universal Installer" GUI to create a bootable
copy of Puppy Linux on your USB stick.
Voila! Instant "Live CD" .. on a thumb drive ... for any PC that
supports booting from USB (which, of course, is just about *any*
6. You can boot (effectively in "read-only" mode) whichever is most convenient: the CD, or the USB.
This is the setup you want for "forensic analysis".
Puppy Linux is great; DSL is equally suitable. You'll want to research and download other tools (like rootkit detectors, etc) from the web and store them on the same boot CD/boot USB.
... returning to my question:
I'm interested in booting directly to an ISO on the hard disk. CD's are slow to boot. Sometimes I need to quickly boot the system and look for an answer on the internet, or just quickly look at a documents content. Windows is too slow for that, especially on our configuration, where there are tons of programs installed (including antivirus,antispyware and firewall programs that slows down the boot times).
you can use a live-usb which is much faster than live-cd (+ 1 fedora-9-live usb)
i think knoppix has a toram boot option which effectively creates a live-ram partition (nothing will be faster than that).
Oooops, I nearly forgot to ask the emulator-performance issue!
1- Which freeware emulator application is the fastest?
QEMU? Xen? VMWare? VirtualBox?
2- Does the host OS's performance and abilities affect the emulator's performance?
Will there be a speed difference if I run QEMU or another emulator under tiny sized distros like DSL, Puppy vs bigger distros like Ubuntu, Fedora, Slackware...?