USB Linux - live or no?

This is a discussion on USB Linux - live or no? within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; So I wanted to get linux running from a flash drive, but there seems a fair bit of ambiguity out ...

  1. #1
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    USB Linux - live or no?

    So I wanted to get linux running from a flash drive, but there seems a fair bit of ambiguity out there about "live" distributions. And I'm pretty confused about my options. Can you correct any assumptions I'm making and recommend a good distro for this?

    It's mainly for system recovery, but I'd also like to be able to store my own files and programs on the desktop (if you're running a live system - I know that has to be a separate partition - but can you "install" to a USB drive and have it use it's own partition? I have a feeling that might hinder the ability to detect different hardware at start-up - am I right?)

    I'd rather not have a gui - I'd rather just have something that loads quickly, reocgnizes the local hardware, and lets me look through the files, editing them or pulling them onto the USB drive if I choose to.

    I'm not a big pro at mounting drives from the CLI - but I wouldn't mind learning. If it recognizes hardware as well as ubuntu and just dumps me in the CLI with everything mounted - well hey that's perfect!

    The only reason I don't just install Ubuntu is because I think I can get away with taking up a lot less space and having more space for my own files, and the only reason I don't just install the most bare bones distro I can find is that I want to make sure that I have support for most common file-systems and hardware, etc...

    If you can point me in a better direction that I'm going with google - I'd appreciate it! I'm making more progress but I definitly want to learn more - but I'm not at the point where I'd be able to put my own distro together - which is where I'd like to end up.

    edit: Is Damn Small Linux pretty good at recognizing usb drives, hard drives, etc... out of the box? And if you put it on a USB drive, can it treat it's own partition as though it was a hard drive? i.e. installing new software, writing to files, customizing the desktop, etc... DSL seems like it might be a good choice for me...

  2. #2
    Frequently Quite Prolix dwks's Avatar
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    You could always go with Ubuntu. You don't have to install X (i.e., graphical stuff).

    I don't know about Ubuntu, but I've seen plenty of Debian Linux distributions that are less than 400 MB -- with Gnome! If you bootstrap a basic Debian system, it's like 200 MB. This would include a lot of command-line utilities and no doubt all of the hardware detection software you'd be looking for.

    I don't know about DSL, but Puppy Linux seemed pretty good to me in terms of hardware detection. I'm sure DSL is quite good too.

    Also, something I just found that you may be interested in: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNetbootin
    dwk

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  3. #3
    glo
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    I used to have a system-rescue-cd bootable distro on my usb stick at around 100mb. It proved sort of useful for its purpose. The only downside is that some older computers will not boot from the usb properly, if at all. Therefore I'd actually suggest a LiveCD/DVD for system rescue seeing as those are more widely boot supported.
    If you are just looking for a handy solution, this really may be it.

  4. #4
    Woof, woof! zacs7's Avatar
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    > I'm not a big pro at mounting drives from the CLI - but I wouldn't mind learning.
    There's nothing to it,

    Work out which device the USB is,
    # fdisk -l

    Mount it,
    # mount /dev/sdx1 /media/usb

    Do your stuff and unmount it,
    # umount /dev/sdx1

    > Is Damn Small Linux pretty good at recognizing usb drives, hard drives, etc... out of the box?
    Most of that stuff is either "in" the kernel or as additional kernel modules.

    I'd go with Arch if I was you or some other system that you build yourself, the Arch installer should be able to install Arch to USB -- even the USB it's running from.
    Last edited by zacs7; 12-18-2008 at 04:12 PM.

  5. #5
    and the hat of copycat stevesmithx's Avatar
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    I used UNetBootin to create a Live USB Ubuntu 7.04(Feisty Fawn) today on my 2GB drive today and voila it works like a charm.Now I face the same problem as sean which is to store files on the drive while still using it as a Live version.
    Being a Linux noob ,I googled for this stuff and I found something https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCD/Persistence. which looked promising.
    I was a bit disappointed when i read this thing is not supported for Feisty Fawn.
    Guess I'll just have to download a newer version of Ubuntu.

    Meanwhile when I used the free command to see how much space is available,
    I get this:
    Code:
    ubuntu@ubuntu:~$ free -m
                         total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
    Mem:              946        829        117          0        101        497
    -/+ buffers/cache:        230        716
    Swap:              0          0          0
    As you can see it shows 1GB instead of 2GB.(I don't have any idea about the buffers/cache
    being a linux noob,i ignored them :S)
    Can somebody with linux knowledge tell what is going on?
    Thanks.

    P.S:Right now, I am posting this from Feisty fawn
    Last edited by stevesmithx; 12-23-2008 at 09:40 AM. Reason: Using code tag instead of quote
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  6. #6
    Reverse Engineer maxorator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesmithx View Post
    As you can see it shows 1GB instead of 2GB.(I don't have any idea about the buffers/cache
    being a linux noob,i ignored them :S)
    Can somebody with linux knowledge tell what is going on?
    Thanks.
    I don't know that much about Linux, but I'm guessing it shows the amount of memory, not the amount of space on the USB stick, since it loads its file system into the memory, not onto the USB stick.

    Edit: OT: sean, you've made 2^12-1 posts!
    Last edited by maxorator; 12-23-2008 at 09:53 AM.
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  7. #7
    and the hat of copycat stevesmithx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxorator View Post
    I don't know that much about Linux, but I'm guessing it shows the amount of memory, not the amount of space on the USB stick, since it loads its file system into the memory, not onto the USB stick.
    Thanks for replying, maxorator.
    I think you are right as i have 1GB of RAM.
    df should be used for this i think.
    I'll try that.
    Edit:
    Yeah you are right.Man page says it is used for checking memory.
    Last edited by stevesmithx; 12-23-2008 at 09:49 AM.
    Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted
    - Albert Einstein.


    No programming language is perfect. There is not even a single best language; there are only languages well suited or perhaps poorly suited for particular purposes.
    - Herbert Mayer

  8. #8
    and the hat of copycat stevesmithx's Avatar
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    When I use df I get the following(I can't find my USB drive although i can see my disks hda ,sda ,methinks)
    Code:
    ubuntu@ubuntu:/$ df
    Filesystem           1K-blocks      Used Available Use% Mounted on
    tmpfs                   484844     33788    451056   7% /lib/modules/2.6.20-15-generic/volatile
    tmpfs                   484844     33788    451056   7% /lib/modules/2.6.20-15-generic/volatile
    varrun                  484844       104    484740   1% /var/run
    varlock                 484844         0    484844   0% /var/lock
    udev                    484844       124    484720   1% /dev
    devshm                  484844         0    484844   0% /dev/shm
    tmpfs                   484844        12    484832   1% /tmp
    /dev/hda1             19543072  19104584    438488  98% /media/disk
    /dev/sda1             19543040  18708120    834920  96% /media/disk-1
    /dev/sda7             19518940  18763468    755472  97% /media/disk-2
    Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted
    - Albert Einstein.


    No programming language is perfect. There is not even a single best language; there are only languages well suited or perhaps poorly suited for particular purposes.
    - Herbert Mayer

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