Carry an entire operating system in your pocket

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Carry an entire operating system in your pocket

文章 #1  未閱讀文章PoP » 2008-03-22 13:28

Running applications from a USB flash drive on a public computer is convenient but exposes you to malware and other limitations of the host PC.

By installing a Windows-like version of Linux on a flash drive, you can take a complete operating system wherever you go and work in a safe, secure environment, even in an Internet café.

This is not your father's Linux

If the word Linux makes you cringe in fear at trying something new, relax. Despite its geeky reputation, today's versions of Linux sport a graphical user interface that's just as intuitive as the Windows you're used to. (See Figure 1.) In many cases, Linux can be customized to look even more like Windows.

[left]圖檔[/left]Figure 1. The look and feel of Linux distributions such as Knoppix (shown here at reduced size) will seem familar to every Windows users.

In most Linux builds, you'll find the equivalent of a Start menu, Task Bar, Control Panel, desktop icons, and more. You'll still have long filenames and move your files from folder to folder. You'll still be able to work with all the same spreadsheet, document, and graphics files as you do on your Windows machine.

If you already have a USB drive that you can spare, it won't cost you anything to try out this technique.

Here's what you need to get started:

1. A 1GB or larger USB flash drive. If you're going to be buying a new one, check out my advice in the Oct. 11, 2007, newsletter.

2. A computer capable of booting from a USB device or CD. Most computers built in recent years have this capability. If you find an Internet café PC that won't boot from external media, you can often press a key combination when the PC is booting that allows you to change the machine's BIOS options. A list of the key combinations used by more than 20 different manufacturers, and a short tutorial on changing the boot sequence, is provided at Andy Walker at his Cyberwalker site.

Next, you need to download and install a version of Linux suited for flash-drive computing. I installed and ran the latest builds of Knoppix, Slax, Puppy Linux, Pendrivelinux 2008, MCNLive Toronto, and gOS. Most of these distributions of the portable OS are available from the Pendrivelinux site.

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