19 May, 2008

Linux-Live: Pocket Operating Systems

Slax LogoI've tried a lot of different flavours (Knoppix,Belenix,CentOS,Linux Mint,etc...). And I've always gone back to my favourite every time I've tried a new one, mainly: Slax.

Since it's based on Slackware (of course), it basically gives me all the superuser functionality I demand from my computer systems, while also providing a simple (non-hardware-accelerated) KDE desktop and basic built-in applications.

I've used Slax before, but I wasn't quite satisfied with the storage mounting system not being fully configured in v5, to allow mounting of USB storage devices automatically (yes, I prefer _some_ automation for basic tasks). Version 5 also incorporated a package system (much like Slackware), only, the packages were built as modules, to be easily added/removed on-the-go. This was also one of the features I did not favour very much, as it would lock up the system at times as i was removing package-modules while the system was actively running X, but this also seems to have been fixed in v6.


  • distribution has reached a more stable level compared with earlier releases.
  • it is based on Slackware Linux 12.1 (running the Linux kernel).
  • system size is now reduced to a mere 195 MegaBytes, thanks to the merging of 7Zip-compression (LZMA) into the squashfs filesystem.
  • it now has the ability to determine if it is running from a writable or unwritable media, and saves system configs accordingly.
  • it includes an X Window System and a collection of general network-enabled applications (browser,mail,chat,ftp,games,utilities,etc.), all ready to be used out-of-the-box.
  • it now includes gcc out-of-the-box, giving the ability to compile third party software, which can then be packaged into software-modules afterwards for quick installation/removal.
  • software-packages do not occupy a lot of space thanks to 7Zip-compression (modules now has the '.lzm' file extension).
  • installation of additional software is easy using the new 'Slax Module Manager', grabbing software-modules from online software repositories, or local media.
  • it has procured a large user community, useful for third party support.
  • and it can be burned onto a CD-R or copied to a USB memory dongle like most other linux-live distros, but apart from other distros, it includes very intuitive installers for these tasks as well.
A definate must for OS techies, and Linux followers. I'm building a USB-key version to carry around, keeping my favourite OS of choice close on my person at all times to be easily deployed on a system running other OSes I don't usually favour that much... ;P

It is also a very powerful rescue-tool, allthough you CAN use the Slackware install-disc to do the same tasks, Slax lets you boot into an X environment whereas Slackware restricts to the command line.

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