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Old 08-24-2008, 09:14 PM   #1
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Simple question for first time Puppy User


I am new to Linux, I decided to give it a try after having my Windows XP OS get corrupted with a very nasty Malware virus. Now I have been receiving some excellent help from folks on one of the Windows forums to remove the malware but again it led me to think about Linux. I have a book coming from Amazon called the Linux 2008 Bible and I hope (as a newbie) to learn a lot about Linux as well as the book having a bunch of Distro's to try.

In the meantime I have looked at some of the liveCD's to see what Linux looks like. I read some reviews on Linux Puppy and I have loaded it onto a thumbdrive and I am typing this to you from that (and it is even working on my wireless network which is totally amazing to me). Here is my questions though; when I use Puppy Linux is it completely and wholey something that resides on my thumdrive and not at all on my hard drive? The reason that I ask is that I am a salesman and travel 50% of the time; I drag around an extra laptop for personal use and I am wondering if this little program would allow me to only bring my work laptop and have nothing personal left on the work laptop?
Old 08-24-2008, 09:58 PM   #2
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You have a large number of options really:

1. Boot from that thumbdrive, but mount your NTFS partitions using the 'ntfs-3g' driver so that you can read/write data to it.

2. Install Linux to your HD (I see posts stating that the latest partitioning tools can even resize NTFS partitions) and dual-boot Linux or XP as needed.

3. Install Linux to the HD and then install VirtualBox and install XP inside that; this allows you to run Linux and XP simultaneously. It also allows you to reboot XP without rebooting the machine. It also puts some limits on the damage that typical malware will do - well, the malware can totally screw the XP stuff, but the damage it can do to the Linux system is limited - unless of course it is malware which is specifically written to do damage to a Linux system running XP in VirtualBox. (I don't know of such malware yet.)

4. Install Linux to the HD and install WINE to run your other software which must run under WinDuhs. I would suggest this in tandem with (3) because you may have to tinker a bit to get your software running. Some software just won't run even in WINE, in which case your only option is (3). The catch with (3) is that WinDuhs will not have access to USB devices like webcams and so on - unless you switch to the paid-for version of VirtualBox.

I have seen posts where people have said that PuppyLinux only has a 'root' user - I dont know if that's true but it's definitely something to investigate. If the claim is true, then dump Puppy for something like Kubuntu instead. You can still use options 1-4 running with Kubuntu (or any other Linux distribution for that matter).

Take your time getting rid of XP (if you can get rid of it at all); trying to dump it all at once will definitely have you screaming and tearing out your hair.

The safest option to use until you've checked things out and discovered the shortcomings of VirtualBox or WINE, is to have a dual-boot system with XP but with VirtualBox + XP under Linux as well. The down side to such an install is that you use up an awful lot of space with XP essentially installed twice.
Old 08-24-2008, 11:25 PM   #3
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Burn Puppy to cd or dvd depending on how much room you need. Set it up on the company laptop with all the apps you need. Then save the session to cd/dvd. Next time you boot it up all your personal settings will be loaded from the cd into ram. Most modern laptops have plenty of ram.

Running in ram leaves no information on your hard drive. Don't worry about "root". Most people run windows as administrators and windows is prone to a lot more grief than a linux operating system running from ram.
Old 08-24-2008, 11:29 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply; let me make sure that I define my question more clearly. I currently carry two laptops, one that is taken care of by my IT department and a personal one that is my own private laptop. Both are Windows based but after downloading Linux Puppy to my thumbdrive it made me think that maybe I can stop carrying my personal laptop and use my companies laptop for my personal use however I would need to make sure that I save nothing to their system. I do not want to partition or put Puppy on their machine, otherwise I will just keep carrying two laptops and put Linux on the personal one.

Again, my thought is that maybe this little OS on this thumbdrive using RAM might actually allow me to use their laptop but not pose any threat with virus. It might also allow me to be completely secure in knowing that nobody is looking over my shoulder because there are no traces of me on the machine for personal use.


Old 08-25-2008, 07:37 PM   #5
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The answer to your question is that Puppy runs in ram and does not put anything onto the hard drive unless you ask it to. If you choose to save your personal settings and files, they are in a single "pup_save" file. That file can be put onto a hard drive, or saved back to the puppy cd (and presumably a thumb drive, too, although I've not done that).

(Personally and from a non-computing perspective, I wouldn't run anything on a work computer that work didn't put there and it might be prudent to run it past your work IT department as to whether there's any policy on it - there might be a blanket policy, regardless of whether you are actually saving anything to the hard disk.)
Old 08-25-2008, 08:47 PM   #6
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Ah, OK - you can just put Puppy on a small partition on a thumbdrive (16GB ones are cheap now). Set it up so you have another (the larger) partition for the "/home" directory. Do not use "swap" space. You'll have to work out how to sync data between your thumb drive and home computer though.

Other steps to take to ensure a long-lived Puppy (writing to a falsh USB wears it out):
1. Make the root filesystem "read only"
2. use tmpfs to mount /var and /tmp at boot; /etc may also need to be put on tmpfs to appease programs like pppd.
The hard bit is that (1) and (2) require some customization of Puppy and using tmpfs for /var means that none of the system logs will persist between reboots.


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