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Thread: Linux - Unix Live Disks

  1. #1
    I made a reply to a topic recently, and one of my solutions to someone's dilemma had to do with "Live Disks." This rose a little interest, so I thought I'd give some more info on the idea.

    With a live disk, you can run an entire operating system from a CD-ROM. Imagine being able to carry your OS of choice with you, whether your on your way to fix a computer or writing a report on whatever computer you can find. Hacking on the go? Not used to new operating systems and you would like to try it first? Then a live disk may be your answer.

    This is not a new concept, but it's growing popular in recent times, as it is becoming more practical and usable. I feel some of these may become almost neccesary. Many include important security, system recovery, and forensic tools Some of these Linux and Unix Live Disks boast read and sometimes writing capability on an NTFS partition.

    Here are some I've found:
    A Slackware based Linux Live Disk capable of booting from an 8cm compact disk without losing functionality or performance.

    A Slackware and Knoppix based live disk. Coming in two distros, in a sense, there is a pakage with limited capability and customization, and a fully loaded package that seems to have all one needs to see the capabilities of Linux, including Word Processors, IM, Multimedia, Graphics and Development Programs. STUX can also automatically load and save main configuration and personal files on a writable partition.

    Morphix is a derivative of Knoppix and Debian, another live CD distribution. Morphix is modular; this means that it consists of a number of parts which together form a working distribution, thus making it very customizable. Morphix should still be considered experimental in nature. No guarentees are given, use Morphix at your own risk!

    A Mandrake based live disk. A complete Linux distro allowing for general desktop use or to serve as a system rescue disk all from CD. PCLinuxOS is a community based non-profit distribution initially based on Mandrake Linux. Just think of it as Mandrake Linux enhanced by Texstar on a single bootable live CD with 1.5GB of desktop applications and the ability to install right to your hard drive with everything ready to work out of the box.

    Cool Linux CD
    Cool Linux is part of the LINUX EMERGENCY CD project and is based on Red Hat Linux. It is a bootable, live Linux CD with NVidia drivers, Blender, VMware (trial), OpenOffice and plenty of other software, both free and demo.

    RPM Live Linux CD
    An RPM based Linux live disk. A CD based "server capable" distro that is small, runs on almost all hardware, supports clustering and can easely be (re) built and/or extended using ready to use software packages. It should also run either completely from cd on systems with small amounts of ram and in a "full-ram" mode if enough is aviable. Useful for dedicated servers, routers, emergency systems, cluster nodes and such, it does not contain an X11 Server.

    Basically a bootable media player. You may wonder why you could have to boot on another operating system to play your media files, but just think about the Mini-ITX plateforms like VIA Epia/Eden or Shuttle barebones. It's now affordable to bring DivX to your home cinema, pluging this kind of computers directly to your TV !! At the time of the first development release (December 2002), it was only able to play DivX movies, but for now, nearly every kind of media files can be played from GeeXboX.

    Professional Hackers Linux Assault Kit. PHLAK is based on Morphix, and is a modular live security Linux distribution. PHLAK comes with two light gui's (fluxbox and XFCE4), many security tools, and a spiral notebook full of security documentation.

    Knoppix STD
    Knoppix Security Tools Distribution. STD focuses on information security and network management tools. It is meant to be used by both the novice looking to learn more about information security and the security professional looking for another swiss army knife for their tool kit. The tools are divided into the following categories: authentication, encryption utilities, firewalls, penetration tools, vulnerability assessment, forensic tools, honeypots, intrusion detection, packet sniffers and assemblers, network utilities, wireless tools, password auditing (crackers) and servers.

    Forensic and Incident Response Environment. FIRE is a portable bootable cdrom based distribution with the goal of providing an immediate environment to perform forensic analysis, incident response, data recovery, virus scanning and vulnerability assessment.

    System Rescue CD
    SystemRescueCd is a linux system on a bootable cdrom for repairing your system and your data after a crash. It also aims to provide an easy way to carry out admin tasks on your computer, such as creating and editing the partitions of the hard disk. It aims to be very easy to use: just boot from the cdrom, and you can do everything. The kernel of the system supports most important file systems (ext2/ext3, reiserfs, xfs, jfs, vfat, ntfs, iso9660), and network ones (samba and nfs).

    Damn Small Linux
    A distro made to run from a business card size CD. It provides almost a full desktop environment with many tools for more than just fuctionality, allowing work to get done and have some fun.

    A mini distro based in China. It aims to be a handy administration/rescue tool for system administrators as well as general users. I haven't tried it, but the stable release is only 18M. That's less than half that of Damn Small Linux.

    A Free BSD based live disk. This is the first Unix live disk I found. Unix speaks for itself. What isn't based on Unix, in some way? ;-) It's stable and some say it's best for servers, but it's what Linux is based on! For Windows users, it may seem to involve too much command line. Now you can see for yourself without the need for installing it.

    A Unix live disk based on the FreeBSD kernel. ClosedBSD is a firewall and network address translation utility capable of booting from a single Floppy or CD.

    From what I understand, the kernel image is unpacked and loaded to memory where a virtual hard disk is created and and the rootdisk image is unpacked to it and mounted as the root filesystem. Many small directories are mounted using scripts, and large directories typically work from CD, making them read only. Some distros have options where you can load the entire disk image to RAM (if you can spare it), freeing the CD drive.

    Now, you may ask how can I save my work if I'm working from disk. The distros aren't the same, but you can save files and configuration to floppies, and some include the capability to write CDs, to another freed drive no doubt. Another feature of the live disks is, if you decide that you like that distro, you can always install to the hard disk. However, not all are made to be used as standard desktops. Some are strictly for security and recovery use.

    Okay, I'm not a huge linux user. I'm very used to Windows, and any of the disks I've tried, I haven't exactly mastered. There are countless things I don't know about Linux. I just wanted to spread the word, and give a little bit of backround. Experiment people! :-) I will post more links to more live distros in later posts.

    -- Xero Grid --
    <span style='color:green'>Supertrick XG Forums</span> | Supertrick XG - Your solution to ads, pop-ups, malicious code, and the rest of the garbage just floating around the web.

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  3. Software & Hardware   -   #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Thanks, that l33t B)

  4. Software & Hardware   -   #3

    Thnx. Did i miss MandrakeMove or you didnt mention it.

  5. Software & Hardware   -   #4
    shn's Avatar 3μ|\|(7
    Join Date
    May 2003

    I have had a few ventures with some of thoose live cd&#39;s. I&#39;ll give what input I have relating to them.


    While the kde 3.2 beta desktop looks like some fantastic icandy. KDE is bloated and will never be half as light weight as Gnome. THIS LIVE CD SUCKS Why? It won&#39;t even handle more than 900 megs of ram before the so called live cd kernel goes into a kernel panic . And the author is very well aware of this dillema and has for some time. He says he does not know why it does that

    I will try to search for this on the internet, I don&#39;t understand why is this causing problems... If I wouldn&#39;t found a solution, then I will be forced to compile the kernel with 900MB support _only_ in the next version of SLAX.
    The Project Manager
    Also if you have a floppy drive then dont count on using /dev/fd0 for about 30 seconds while auto mounter hangs your system as this is another frivilous problem that may or may not have been resolved yet..

    My rating on this live cd. Either it runs like it is supposed to in order to exonerate probably the n00b thats running it from going through any problems that would require support from a more advanced linux user. Or it&#39;s of no use.


    Damn Small Linux

    Now this is a pretty nifty live cd to have. I&#39;ve beed using it off and on for about 7 months now. It boast of nothing spectacular just efficiency. It has a window manager that is a more than lightweight. It only took me 10 minutes to download the 50 meg iso image on dsl and for that reason this is probably the easiest way to go if you have never ever tried a live cd and just can&#39;t wait to see what it&#39;s like

    The file manager is emelFM. That&#39;s about the lightest file manager you are going to get nowadays in linux unless you want to browse your files from a terminal.

    The web browser it comes with is Dillo. Dillo is based on GTK+ and I like apps written with Glade. Guess that&#39;s why the Gnome desktop is so good. If your new to linux then you wont&#39;t like that web browser because it does not do much in regard to convenience. Your better off running the pre built in mozilla firebird and flash installer script. It will download firebird and the flash installer and in seconds you&#39;ll be running firebird and veiwing flash sites.

    It uses fluxbox as its window manager and that is yet another plus in the lightweight category. For 50 megs I suggest you see for yourself...............I sure liked it. And it&#39;s better than wasting over 600megs of bandwidth on a live cd that does not work at all. This is a wise choice. I will say that if you like icandy and user-friendliness then this is not the cd for you. Both of thoose come at a price and result in poor performance.


    I see a lot of live cd&#39;s not listed but I&#39;ll leave that up to xero-grid to find out what they are. Besides, the hunt for live cd&#39;s are like the endless and in fact you can even make your own.

    There are a number of issues to consider. The fact that one day eventually you will find a live cd that works for you and sooner or later you will be adding or wanting to know how to place that live cd on your hard drive and use as an actual physical o.s. Which can be done I find it easier to just download the iso images as you choose and instead of burning them to a disk just boot from the iso file from a virtual machine. Both Virtual Pc and Vmware allow you to do this. That way you wont have to reboot windows or whatever o.s. your on just to run linux. And if you do not have enough ram to run a virtual machine then running a live cd is not going to help you any better because the speed and performance of the o.s. depends on how fast your cd rom drive is. To get beyond that barrrier you can create a /swap drive for more virtual memory. And there we go creating file systems ha? Well now you got a swap drive, just go ahead and create a /ext2 or /ext3 partition and there you can now install linux by itslef.

    Whatever suits your fancy I suppose. But to measure the true ability of linux and what it can actually do you have to run it like you would windows or any other o.s. I can not count the endless number of poeple that say Linux sucks because it did not run up to their standards when they ran it on a live cd. You might as well install it B)

    I wish I could get a live cd for xp pro

    Thanks for the info Xero-Grid. I have a lot of iso&#39;s to download and play with now.

  6. Software & Hardware   -   #5
    Cool, everybody. I thought these were good to know about. And any extra info would be great.

    As for MAndrakeMove, I haven&#39;t heard of that one, so I didn&#39;t place it here for obvious reasons.

    Shn, you know your stuff, and I&#39;m glad to help in any way, and it&#39;s cool to have your input. I wish I had an XP Pro live disk too. Hey, I guess this is another reason to have a LinuxWorld Section, isn&#39;t it?

    Or maybe it should be a "nix" section, including Unix, Solaris, and who know what else.

    -- Xero Grid --
    <span style='color:green'>Supertrick XG Forums</span> | Supertrick XG - Your solution to ads, pop-ups, malicious code, and the rest of the garbage just floating around the web.

  7. Software & Hardware   -   #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    good job xero grid

    we need linux world&#33;&#33;

  8. Software & Hardware   -   #7
    So which one would be best to dl for someone who has never used linux before? Should I get a normal version of it, or use the live disk?

  9. Software & Hardware   -   #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Originally posted by opivykid@6 February 2004 - 16:39
    So which one would be best to dl for someone who has never used linux before? Should I get a normal version of it, or use the live disk?
    Probably should start out with live disks, but if you want more functionality and speed set up a dual boot configuration

  10. Software & Hardware   -   #9
    Ok, yet which one should I get?

  11. Software & Hardware   -   #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Originally posted by opivykid@6 February 2004 - 16:42
    Ok, yet which one should I get?
    pick out one from above, read their descriptions

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