I've been trying out some different Linux LiveCD's the past few weeks, before I go and install it on my old machine. I'd also like to have a bootable USB flash drive. I've been having some problems with that since my laptop doesn't have an option to boot from USB -- I've tried to make a bootable CD with USB drivers that I can then boot the USB from, but I haven't had much luck. Anyway, I've tried two distros so far:
- SLAX Linux, based off Slackware, is pretty nice and pretty comprehensive for an under 200 MB distribution. It includes KDE and Flux, and a real BASH shell, as well as some nice extras. It is also easy to include modules, but not so easy when you boot it from a CD. It doesn't include the sound drivers for my laptop sound chip, or at least doesn't recognize it automatically. It does, however, recognize my USB key automatically, and mounts it, and can also read my NTFS hard drive, which is a necessity. Because of the larger size of this distro, it is constantly spinning up the CD, and keeps the CD drawer locked until reboot.
- Puppy Linux is a smaller distribution, and can't mount my NTFS drive, and doesn't automatically detect my USB key (although it does when prompted). It does, however, automatically detect my sound card, and I'm greeted by a "bark" everytime I boot up. The window manager and shell are somewhat anemic, which can be expected from the small size and large variety of programs provided by the distro. I was a little disappointed in the shell programs, though, as I would think they would be the last to go when making space. The Puppy Linux site includes information on booting to a USB key if you have a machine that doesn't have the right BIOS option (like mine), but I just couldn't get it to work. Also, since the laptop only has a CD-ROM drive and no floppy, I have to burn a new disc for every try... maybe I should use a CD-RW next time.
I'd be grateful for any suggestions of other Live distros to try... I'm probably going to give MEPIS and Knoppix (or Gnoppix) a try when I get a chance to download them over the library's connection.