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Old 03-15-2007, 06:01 AM   #1
Registered: Jan 2005
Posts: 52

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Linux on 2GB (or 4GB) external USB Flash Drive (Stick) [Bootable / Expandable]


I want to install a linux on an external USB Stick.
The cheaper the hardware, the better.
(That means: better 2GB than 4GB; that means: something like Damn small linux [DSL]
could be handy, but this is not a must!)

Following features should be included:
  • Cheap hardware (External Stick or USB Harddrive)
  • Add/remove my own software to the initial state:
    eg: use standard DSL, but without software XYZ but add software ABC.
    Once configured, save as "initial-state-for-courses".
  • Restore the Stick to the intial state in "no time"
    (eg. >dd if=initial.raw of=/dev/xyz)
  • Must be bootable and not affect the internal boot record of our systems.
  • Access to the internet
  • Install software permanently to the Stick

Why do I need this?
I teach application developer students.
We want to suply all our students (about 10 People) with such a stick in the beginning of the course. Any stick has some initial software (like bash, editor, browser, ...) on it ("initial-state-for-courses").
The students must learn to install software (like apache, mysql, php, tomcat, eclipse, ....) on their sticks (but not all of them at the same time and not all of them in the same course). The installed software should then be used (like writing a LAMP or JSP application). The state should be stored on the stick for the next day.

After the course the users zip their data (programs, texts, ...) and send them home via email.

After a course
a) the sticks could be backuped but
b) will be restored to their initial states.

At the moment we use a standard Windows XP configuration which is buggy and gets buggier after each course :-(
Another problem are the WinXP security rules of our network, which do not allow students to write certain registry entries and forbid certain folders to be written to.


Another possibility will be a bootable CD or DVD (like Knoppix/Ubuntu, ...).
But important is that the state of installations should be backuped from one day to another (like backing up the RAM-Drive; is this easily possible?)


Thanks in advance for any suggestions and ideas to my above mentioned problem.

Old 03-15-2007, 06:51 AM   #2
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Registered: Nov 2003
Location: London, England
Distribution: Ubuntu
Posts: 1,460

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DamnSmallLinux sell such a USB stick on their website, and you can download all the files to roll your own. And it's not hard to customize DSL to add/remove packages.
Old 03-15-2007, 07:54 AM   #3
Registered: Jan 2005
Posts: 52

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 3
1 GB enough?


I have found your mentioned USB Pen (stick) at:

The stick is 1GB which could be a bit small for my plans:
The biggest installation my students will perform contains the following components
(I hope I have not forgotten the giant part ...):
  • Eclipse (600 MB)
  • Openoffice (250MB)
  • JAVA 1.6 SDK (160 MB)
  • Tomcat (60MB)
  • MySQL (60MB)
  • Ant (30MB)
  • Apache (25MB)
  • Browser Firefox (20MB)

Totals to approx 1.2 GB.
Thats why I am looking for a 2GB (or 4GB) Stick.

Any experience?

Is it simply possible to copy everything from that DLS-Stick to a 2GB or 4GB stick?
Is it still fast enough to work with?
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 04-17-2007, 01:27 AM   #4
Registered: Jan 2005
Posts: 52

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 3
Smile ubuntu does the job

for a first project experience.
1 members found this post helpful.


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