OT: your desktop on a stick
pmeyer at themeyerfarm.com
Fri Dec 12 17:53:33 UTC 2008
Anne Wilson wrote:
> Much has been said about the ability for a linux distro to be carried around
> on a usb stick, making any computer into your familiar desktop. Does anyone
> actually do this?
> I ask because I installed F9 and Mandriva 2008 onto sticks for tests with my
> EeePC. Today I put the Mandriva stick into the Acer netbook, and watched the
> messages scroll on, as it detected and set up the webcam, then the mouse, then
> I got to
> "Marking TSC unstable due to: TSC halts in idle
> Time: hpet clocksource has been installed.
> Then a loonng pause, after which
> Wait timeout. Will continue in the background. [FAILED}
> Non-volatile memory driver v1.2
> and it has been sitting there for 15 minutes.
> I confess I have always wondered about such hardware changes. If this is
> typical, then this is another dream that is far from reality :-(
> Just to satisfy my curiosity, I'll try the F9 stick. I won't bother reporting
> back if the result is very similar.
Yes, done this a lot.
Current best method is to roll a livecd will my favorite apps, a package
containing my login (adds me to sudoers as well).
Then convert the iso to a usb bootable livecd on a stick. During this,
I add a system overlay, and a /home overlay.
My current thumb drive is a 64GB DataTraveler.
It has two partitions. The first is 20GB, and the remainder is in the
Both partitions are formatted as ext3, thus allowing overlays greater
than 2GB and also allowing me to use rsync to keep my music up to date
on the larger slice.
here is the command I used to make the first partition bootable:
# /usr/bin/livecd-iso-to-disk --reset-mbr --overlay-size-mb 4000
--home-size-mb 8000 --unencrypted-home Fedora_Developer.iso /dev/sdb1
Fedora_Developer.iso is my custom roll of F10-x86_64.
I made the label of the second partition "music" so it would always
mount as media/music.
Next, I booted from the thumb drive in text mode on my primary machine
and logged into the console as root.
# mount /dev/sda3 /mnt
My home is on there.
# cd /mnt/home/pmeyer
# cp -a .ssh .tcshrc .login .mozilla .thunderbird .g* /home/pmeyer
As an example, but very close to actual -- YMWV
# ln -s /media/music .
# init 0
Remove the thumb drive. Its all done! (except I rsynced my music
collection to the second partition)
Now I can plug the thumb drive into virtually any system and have all my
favorite stuff just how I like it!. The only differences between
systems are video.
The difference between running a live USB vs an installed USB are many.
1. Live CDs by nature have A LOT more modules installed into the
initrd.img, thus allowing them to run on a variety of hardware.
2. Hardware setting are not saved.
3. Space! About 1/3 in my experience.
The advent of persistent storage for the OS and for /home mean that you
can make changes to startup scripts, config files, and whatnot, and your
changes are preserved over reboots. All the benefits of Live CDs, with
persistent storage! It can't be beat.
The best part of all, is that its installable to disk, as well. What
else could you ask for? :)
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