For those who want a more familiar Linux distribution than Knoppix, Mandrake has come out with MandrakeMove, a live-CD, no-hard-drive-required distribution that saves settings and user data onto a USB flash drive.
The retail version is set up to use the flash drive by default. The free-download version doesn’t, so you have to play twenty questions with it before it finishes booting. It will recognize flash drives, so you could write a script to reconfigure and save data once the system has booted, but you’ll still have to go through the whole startup sequence first.
MandrakeMove touts two advantages over Knoppix:
- you can eject the MandrakeMove CD once the system has booted, so you can play/rip a music CD, or access backed-up files or more software. I’m not sure if you would be able to burn a CD-R or not.
- data gets saved onto a USB drive, so you can retrieve your email at, say, an internet cafe, save files, and save settings.
Disadvantages over Knoppix include less hardware compatibility and a layout which is just not as appealing. However, MandrakeMove boots correctly on my NForce2 motherboard, for which Knoppix doesn’t have drivers (apparently Klaus Knopper doesn’t have an NForce2 machine).
Knoppix is noncommercial, so I doubt there will be an arms-race type competition. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Knoppix offer a new version with the flash-drive setup soon. The CD trick may be more difficult. Knoppix is freely available from many mirrors.
MandrakeSoft is apparently getting desperate for cash, and so has made it difficult to find a download page on their site – this is also why they released a restricted (no automatic flash-drive setup) version for their free download. It is available, though.
If you are tired of viruses and hacker attacks, these would be good tools to try.