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Updated: 13 sec ago

Howell Tam: Pikkoro – My Linux live system on a CF card

Wed, 2016-05-11 13:05

Since the last few times when I was in HK/TW, I’ve been thinking of having a Linux live system, installed on a USB stick or Compact Flash (CF) card, so I could simply plug it to any machine (say, those m$ windows box of my parent’s or my wife’s). I had been using the Ubuntu LiveCD, and it was really great. But then of course CD access is slow, and it’s read-only.

So I bought myself a 2GB CF card when I was in HK months ago. And I’ve finally finished setting Linux up on it. Host name “Pikkoro” (yes, yet another machine named after Dragon Ball characters), got Debian Etch (testing) installed, have it booting and running my own Linux system using a USB-CF card reader.

For those who are not familiar with the idea of a “live” system, it is basically an operating system (Linux in this case) installed on any media that can be used to boot on a computer. We all know the common setup of your computer booting the OS installed on your harddisk. So your harddisk is “bootable”. These days most computers can boot not only from a harddisk, but also from a CD/DVD, or a USB storage device (aka USB drive/stick). A live system would mean the OS/system can be run without installation. It won’t touch your harddisk (unless you want to).

So in my case, I have Linux installed and setup on my CF card, which can be plugged to a computer via a USB-CF card reader. The reason why i didn’t use a USB stick/drive is so I can use/read it on my iPAQ too, which has a CF slot.

Getting a Linux live system to work is pretty easy if you’re familiar with how Linux boots and how Debian works. Nevertheless I did some searches and reading on what other people have been doing, and I found this mini guide. What interested me is the localepurge package in Debian, which saved me a some disk spaces.

One of many things during the process was picking a window manager (notice how I said “window manager”, but not “desktop environment” :) I’ve been an AfterStepper (1.8) for a long long time. When I was doing FGLive I played with fluxbox a bit and I liked it. So I’ve decided to give it a go. After fiddling with it for a while, it’s official, fluxbox is now default on my Linux live CF. Its tab feature is probably one of the coolest. My only complaint so far is it not able to switch virtual desktop by mouse, and the fact that it only has concept of linear virtual desktops it seems.

Anyway, I’m now happy that I can carry around my own Linux system anywhere I go…