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View Full Version : USB Linux - live or no?



sean
12-18-2008, 08:21 AM
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...

dwks
12-18-2008, 01:47 PM
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

glo
12-18-2008, 02:58 PM
I used to have a system-rescue-cd (www.sysresccd.org) 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.

zacs7
12-18-2008, 05:09 PM
> 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.

stevesmithx
12-23-2008, 10:30 AM
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:

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 :)

maxorator
12-23-2008, 10:38 AM
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!

stevesmithx
12-23-2008, 10:47 AM
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.

stevesmithx
12-23-2008, 10:56 AM
When I use df I get the following(I can't find my USB drive although i can see my disks hda ,sda ,methinks)

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