Wednesday, July 9, 2008

SLAX Rocks!

I have always been intrigued by the idea of distros running off USB thumb drives. Well Haris (my boss) had an issue with his EEPC and needed some live distro to resolve it. Well none of us here have any USB Optical Drive, so I hatched upon the idea of using my new 8GB Drive to boot a distro.

Hmm...what distro to use? I am partial to Ubuntu and Fedora but these distros are heavy resource munchers (even Xubuntu is relatively heavy), then I remembered SLAX. In the past, I used the Live CD version of SLAX to resuscitate and backup data from many of my customers' dead XP PCs.

Ok I head over to and downloaded the USB version. And then, all I needed was to copy the tarball over to my drive, extract it and copy the extracted boot and slax dirs to the root of the USB drive and run the script as root and walla! I have a newly bootable always persistent distro.

I did run into some problems earlier on. Somehow, my File system got corrupted. Ah well, just reformat lo!

I like SLAX coz I did not need to change my USB drives' FAT32 file system, all others require a re-partitioning of some sort. Besides, like it or not FAT32 is pretty universal across many platforms.

SLAX boots up real fast, something you will not expect from a distro running KDE. Well, I basically cannot do without Firefox, so I downloaded its tarball, extracted it and created some links and I have my beautiful Firefox. I just install flash and stuff and I am good to go. is pretty heavy so I most probably won't install that. I might go for Abiword but I guess KOffice is pretty ok as well.

MP3 and AVI support is also enabled. SLAX is really cool.

There are many distros nowadays that support bootable from USB thumb drives. Backtrack 3, the popular distro for pen tester and security enthusiasts also has a version that runs off USB drives.

So, if someone asks you what's so great about the OSS world, tell them about SLAX. See if XPee can do the same.