I’m a DIY guy. I like messing around with stuff, figuring out how to do things and learning new (ahem) skills. Most of my projects involve computers because that’s where most of my skills are. I tinker around the house too, not as much as I’d like, but then again, my skills aren’t very advanced. I’ve yet to go under the hood and mess with the car, maybe someday.
Like any good DIY’er, I’ve got a list of projects I’d like to make time for, again most of them are geeky. This week’s project was one I’ve had on my list for a while, creating a live USB Linux install that I can take anywhere. Creating a live USB install is a new feature of Ubuntu 8.10 and is also available in Fedora 9 and 10. These two distros are very similar, so it stands to reason they both support live USB.
So why do I care? Live USB simply means that I have a fully functional Linux O/S installed on a USB drive (thumbdrive for ultra-portability), and I can use that O/S on any computer, anywhere, any time (as long as the computer’s BIOS can boot to USB).
In short, it’s not a laptop, or a netbook, it’s a stickbook.
Think about that for a second.
With my little stickbook, I can use my own “computer” all over the place; at someone’s house, on a loaner laptop, in the library, on a friend’s laptop. No security worries, no concerns about cookies, no configuration changes. Easy breezy.
You could also use this option to test drive Ubuntu or Fedora; it’s about as much work as creating a bootable Live CD.
All you really need to know is how to boot to and change a BIOS, which isn’t too bad, even though it’s different for each manufacturer. Speaking of which, I’ve no idea how to do that on a Mac (added to my DIY list).
Pretty sweet. I’ve been itching to try this since I upgraded to Ubuntu 8.10, and this post from TechRadar reminded me.
I had been hoping to write this post from a live USB install of Fedora 10, but a number of issues prevented that. Fedora’s live USB creator utility only works on Windows or Fedora. So, I had to start up a Windows VM to create the live USB. I booted it up and messed around a bit, but eventually got the root password all hosed, which torpedoed my efforts.
Faced with a do-over, I figured Ubuntu would be easier, since as with Fedora, they have the utility built-in to the O/S.
Anyway, this is dead simple stuff, and all you need is a USB drive with a few GB of free space. The live USB is a non-destructive process, meaning your data are preserved. So, if you have a big enough USB stick, you can still use it for moving files around e.g. those conference presentations.
So, what’s next on my list? Learn Rails. Add more monitors to my workspace.
Around the house, I’m slowly replacing the switches and outlets. Building some standalone stairs is also on the list.
My guess is that you’re probably a DIY person too, to some extent, and like me, you have a backlog of hobbist projects.
So, what are they? Geeky or not, share them in the comments.
Update: Sherman (@rednektek) points out that the USB drive will only support about a million or so writes before it dies. I think the TechRadar post mentions that as well. Seems like a lot; can anyone put that into perspective?