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Old 03-29-2011, 03:12 AM   #1
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Help choose Distribution for USB memory stick


Iam new to this but I want to learn linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP and JAVA.

I got an 8 GB USB Memory stick wich I want to use, I dont want to install Linux on my harddrive, I want it portable and on an USB stick.

What I need is a distribution thats big with lots of programs and the Ability to Save files and configurations Directly on the USB Memory stick, and it should be able to run apache, mysql,php and java.

I want the USB memory stick to act like a harddrive so to speak.

Any ideas what might fit my description?

Also, I already downloaded and tried Knoppix Live CD, but I cant get knoppix 6.4.4 to work, but an older version worked. But its so small, not so many programs. Is there a way to install lets say a DVD version of a distro to USB and make it work like the live version?

/Thanks in Advance, sorry for the many questions. But iam totally new to this, but iam looking forward to learn more about Linux.
Old 03-29-2011, 03:21 AM   #2
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Welcome to LQ

A good start would be
Puppy linux is a good alternative to DSL

Kind regards
Old 03-29-2011, 07:10 AM   #3
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@ pinuini

You will need to create a persistence linux USB key install.

What does Persistence mean for USB Linux Users?

For USB Linux users, a persistent Linux install is one that allows it's user to save data changes back to the USB storage device instead of leaving the information in system RAM. This data can then be recovered and used again on subsequent boots, even when booting from different machines. Typically a separate Persistent storage space (persistent overlay) is used in conjunction with a compressed Live Linux OS

A video guide on creating a Persistent USB key manually

Forward the video to 8:30 where it begins the tutorial.

A good tool for creating persistent linux on USB is here

Hope this helps

Last edited by RedNeck-LQ; 03-29-2011 at 07:32 AM.
Old 03-29-2011, 07:26 AM   #4
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Thanks for answers, I want a linux distribution to run from USB that is big in the businesses-world.

And that come with alot of free programs like java, php, mysql, apache server.

I just installed Fedora wich is based on RedHat, but it doesnt come with Live DVD so i dont get so much programs as i want.

So now iam dl Scientific linux live DVD and I will try that. i read its also based on RedHat. Is this a good choice for me? does it have alot of developer tools?
Old 03-29-2011, 07:42 AM   #5
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Welcome to the forums! I think you are overlooking a basic characteristic of Linux, which is that most distributions have an online "repository" of available software. In other words, if an application you're looking for is not pre-installed on the Live CD/DVD, you can easily install it with one or two commands. So please don't rule out Fedora/Knoppix/etc. because it's "missing" an application you want....

As for your "which distribution to choose" question, any of them will run from a USB drive (Linux doesn't really care whether the drive is internal or external to the computer) so it really boils down to "which distro is best?" a very frequently asked question on these forums. is an excellent resource. Personally, my first distro was Ubuntu. It is very beginner-friendly and has a very helpful community over at (plus Ubuntu has a powerful and easy-to-use USB installer).
Old 03-29-2011, 02:59 PM   #6
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So many to choose from

Here are several which work quite well Live on USB flash, including Fedora which I've seen mentioned.

I've made several myself but sometimes I can't get them to work no matter what I try. The problem with the online tutorials is that not all drives are the same, and a lot of the ways of doing it are only experimental. As far as I know there is only one place online where you can get just about any distribution you want on USB flash drives who has a real standardized creation and verification process. Just google (over 1200 Live Media Drive variations) and you're sure to find them. If they don't have what you want just email. I've gotten free advice and assistance with getting my drives to work by simply asking. I also noticed you can send in your drive instead of paying for another one each time.

I've personally successfully done:
- Fedora - google for the USB installer. There is a command line script and a GUI. It's best to ask in the forums first though. Last I checked this no longer working in F14, but F10-13 worked great.

- Ubuntu (Kubuntu, and Xubuntu), just see the install disc option under the system administration menu.

- Puppy has a GUI USB installer, but it's definitely not a server OS.

- Debian Live CDs can be created by extracting the ISO onto a fat 32 partition, remaning isolinux to syslinux (both the directory and configuration files), and installing syslinux on the drive. You can add the boot perameters of (persistence) and create a second ext 2, ext3, ext4, or xfs partition named (live-rw) to hold changes.

- Try Zenwalk Live if you want to use slackware. It normally has a USB installer GUI as well.

- Linux Mint can be put on a Flash Drive using a live Ubuntu CD and the ubuntu GUI. Mint is made from Ubuntu.

- Knoppix can be put on flash and has a semi-hidden USB GUI installer. Just type flash-knoppix in the terminal windoe after using sudo -s to switch to root. You'll also need to pre-format the drive as fat32 because although the GUI says it'll format the drive, it won't. Knoppix IS debian with a slightly modified boot up process so you could use it to install Debian on the drive yourself. The latest version is 6.4.4 which is all set to use the Debian testing branch. Just open synaptic to install whatever server software you want, or play with aptitude or apt-get from the command line for a little package management experience.

My personal advice would be to go with Debian if you can. It's a strong server distribution.


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