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Old 04-04-2005, 10:16 PM   #1
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Location: Sydney, Australia
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What is the purpose of LiveCDs?

I thought the main purpose of LiveCDs was:
(a) test your hardware will work on linux
(b) demo the linux applications available
Every since I bought the boxed version of Mandrake 9.1 and discovered it didn't support my hardware - Mandrake support told me to buy new hardware as a solution - I have been using LiveCDs to determine when my hardware will be supported by linux. I am not prepared to pay for a linux distro again until my hardware is supported.
Anyway, I recently discovered that my Lexmark Z12 printer *does* have a working driver but this driver is not included on a number of LiveCDs, eventhough the printer manager (CUPS) includes a driver in its database. It turns out that the full driver database of CUPs is not included on LiveCDs, which to me seems to defeat the main purpose of LiveCDs i.e. to test your hardware works with linux.
Old 04-04-2005, 10:57 PM   #2
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LiveCDs are good for system recovery. Something goes bad with your hard drive or your OS won't boot, pop in a live cd and recover what you can.
Old 04-04-2005, 11:50 PM   #3
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What is the purpose of LiveCDs?
Live CD's can be a good indicator of default hardware detection but not only is there no guarantee that the full install will work for sure, there are sometimes other options that may or may not work for you on an installed system. When I was a new Linux user I found default compatibility desirable and I still do.
Using a live CD as a hardware detection indicator is far from their only function. I was very glad to have a Knoppix CD when 2 hard drives died within a week.
Your real question of why a Linux CD cannot offer you the end-all of hardware functionallity, while not completely unreasonable, is just not realistic. There are free downloadable Linux versions (being also available as cheap CDs if you have bandwidth considerations) that would offer fuller options.
You have already won half the battle as you are well aware of the issue. The next step is to consider your options and make a decision which seems best. No matter if the decision is to investigate further or toss your live CDs into a drawer, as long as it is the best decision.
I would suggest either following up by trying the drivers you are aware of on a free download or perhaps seeing if an install to the live CD is possible to check it out.
Good Luck.
Old 04-05-2005, 12:02 AM   #4
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I agree, Live CD's are not really an indication if the full installed distro will detect everything you have. In my opinion Live CD's are great, however, If you really want to learn the Linux OS then a LIVE CD is just not going to do it. No OS is going to completally detect all hardware on all machines, but I think Linux does a pretty good job.

If you think about it, having Linux run directly from a CD is pretty amazing. I don't see any MS live CD's available. If your Windows system crashes, often, your only option is to boot a live linux CD to get your data back.

I have been through quit a few distros starting with RedHat 6 on an old laptop and can say that it's frustrating at time's but you can't really expect an OS to do everything. With a little research and fiddling you can get pretty much any Linux Distro to work on any system.

Just a thought
Old 04-05-2005, 01:12 AM   #5
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As I see it the main strength of using a LiveCD is "try before you install". A user who has no experience with Linux can run a liveCD distro without too much fear of damaging what is already installed on the harddrive, and if something gets screwed a reboot generally fixes all.

There is also the portability of a LiveCD. If you happen to be a Linux user on the road, you can boot your CD or USB device on just about any PC and have a familiar environment in which to work without needing to install.


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