Bootable Linux

One of the most enjoyable and potentially useful bits of linux paraphernalia has been the explosion of “bootable linux” distributions. For quite a while, the main ones which were well known were tomsrtbt and Knoppix. Since a couple years ago there has been a truly wonderful proliferation of bootable distributions, with more created all the time.

There are several direct and obvious benefits to bootable linux distributions:

  • You can have a special-purpose linux dist for a single task
  • You can boot up linux on basically any machine, or at least find one that works, and so work in a familiar linux environment wherever you are
  • You can try out several distributions, in the spirit of getting more familiar with them
  • The bootable media is (almost always) read-only, so it won’t change or get damaged due to user error or playing with configuration settings — just restart and you’re back to where you began — thus, the bootable linux firewall: in the event of a security intrusion, reboot and you’re back to where you were before the intrusion — bad for forensics but good for uptime and recovery

Anyway, here are a few of the up-and-coming ones, well, at least according to Jeff Honnold’s spindle of CDs:

MandrakeMove: this is the bootable CD from Mandrake, that wacky French company which makes one of the best and most user-friendly distributions currently.
PHLAK, a.k.a. Professional Hackers Linux Attack Kit: yes, if you want to set up a bunker and start your intrusion tests as a White Hat security consultant, this is one of the dists you’ll have in your spindle.
MenuetOS: Joe Lazar just mentioned this to me, currently playing with it.
MEPIS: out of Morgantown WV, of all places. Am thinking of making a pilgrimage down there.
Movix: great for playing your media

Slashdot discusses a review of 18 live CDs; lots to choose from!

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