Sunday, August 30, 2009

linux live on a computer near you

Linuxville offers a unique feature that other OSs do not offer, the live CD. Think of it as a postcard that virtually takes you there or a travel show highlighting all the sights and sounds. The live CD of Linux allows you to peruse and cruise, to check it out, play with it and try it to see if you like it. And when you are done you can remove the disk, your present PC installation is untouched, unchanged. You on the other hand are changed forever because you have experienced the wonders of Linuxville, even if for just a moment.

The live CD serves another purpose. Lets say you use Linux but don't want to change your Windows PC's because other folks use it and prefer that OS. You can again pop in the disk, use Linux and save your personal settings and files to a jump drive or external Hard drive. This makes Linux very portable and handy for use on any computer.

There are limitations with live CDs. You get what you get. Someone has decided for you what applications are on the CD. Then some Linux versions come on live DVDs to include everything, but what if you don't have a DVD player? What if all the stuff included is just in the way? The hottest geek trend today is called remastering or remixing the live CD. This usually requires an installed Linux system (from the CD onto your PC) and the tools to remaster or remix the collection of files to your liking. You take the Live CD as a base and begin to swap out applications you don't care for, for ones that you do. When it is finished you create a new iso file to burn onto a blank CD with the stuff you yourself have chosen.

I'll give an example. There is a Linux called Artistx which comes on a live DVD. It has applications for graphics plus audio and video production which I don't need. Also the desktop GUI or window manager is not right for me. I chose a live CD which has the remastering tools, install that on my PC. Since the same applications are available, I can use the online software repository to find what I want to add and remove the stuff not needed. This is a dilemma for developers, what to include and what to exclude. The half empty/half full question still plagues us. Believe me, it is easier to install stuff than remove stuff, not a big deal but an annoyance.

Now with the newly remastered or remixed live CD in hand I can pop it into the PC and get to work using the stuff I prefer. This custom live CD is handy to carry in your bag. This is the portability angle and the custom angle together. The fact that Linux doesn't tie you to one computer is really cool. Linux can be everywhere without being installed on everything or on anything. My plan is this, to remaster a version of Linux with the applications I am most likely to use, mainly graphic applications, a PDF reader, a light weight document writer and a web browser. This also makes a great demo to show friends because it is stuff I use.

The other options are to carry your laptop around and or buy an USB drive to install your other operating system on. That is not a bad solution either. An installed system runs way faster than off the live CD. The Linux live CD serves as a show-n-tell device and as a rescue disk when a disk drive gets hosed.

Show-n-tell and try-n-see, man you can't beat that! You can buy Linux off the net cheap or download for free if your bandwidth is not constrained. And it is not hard to learn more than one operating system (it's point-n-click). But MS is what folks use at work, at school..........Linux has the same looks and feels and tools, windows, icons and will make documents in the same formats. Linux is no different than MS or Mac, is not foreign or alien or cryptic or rocket science. If all you want is to click the mouse, Linux does that well and rocket science too, and it is free.

Even if you are staunch OS loyalist, brand-name customer for life, or a I got to go with the crowd person, having a Live-CD disk of Linux around will broaden your perspectives about computers.

Sheesh, you want endorsements! OK I endorse Ubuntu Linux and have been using Linux of various sorts for 10 years. I, your humble Linuxville guide, am not a corporate system admin, programmer, software developer, engineer or avid gamer, just perhaps a tad bit of a typical user. No deep mucky muck here. I find Linux practical and useful and fun.

So glide on over to ubuntu or Linux live-CD if you want a different choice.

Also check out and type "rno" in the search bar to behold my artistic endeavors. No MS or Mac products were used in making this art, this is Linuxville, you know!

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