back to article Mandriva's Linux on a stick will wow all the ladies this Summer

Mandriva Linux recently announced the Mandriva Flash 2008 Spring operating system, the latest version of its Linux-on-a-USB-stick distro. The Flash sticks come with a complete, bootable version of Mandriva Linux and make it dead simple to take your Linux with you wherever you go - a huge help when you're trying to impress the …


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  1. E


    but what version of vi does it offer? This is the really important question!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    I think you missed a trailing 'm'

    AC uses vim!

    devil jobs 'cause there's no linus/tux with horns

  3. Craig Chambers


    Umm, you selected Gates, not Jobs

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    compare distros ..

    I have an old PC I use for watching DVDs. I recently upgraded from an old RedHat distro to Mandriva. Playback in Mplayer was jittery and sound out of sync. I tried Yoper and it runs like a dream. Runs like the blazes. You should give it a whirl and do a review on it.

  5. Martin Owens


    > Umm, you selected Gates, not Jobs

    I can't tell the difference to be honest. Both don't have beards vis must not be in the free software community, and only ghosts are outside the foss walls. ;-)

  6. Ian Michael Gumby

    *Yawn* been there and done that...


    Last year, a couple of IBMer types loaded up Ubuntu on a stick, along with a full copy of Informix (IDS) fully functioning on a stick.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture


    ....the Curse of the Digital Clock returns! Will these geeks never learn?

  8. E


    Well, it was originally just vi, then in no particular order came 'vim' and 'elvis' and 'vile' and IIRC 'evim' and I think one even called 'evil'.

    You'll note that in addition to being the original name, 'vi' uses fewer keystrokes, just like, well, vi.

    So I just call it vi.

  9. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Up


    The first version of the Flash was launched in December 2006, Ian. This is just the first time the Reg has reviewed it.

    But you're missing the point anyway. Sure, people have been putting Linux on flash drives...well...since there *were* Flash drives, more or less. The point of Mandriva Flash is it's all done for you, you get the complete product in a box, you just open the box, plug it into a computer, and that's all. It's aimed at people who appreciate that kind of simplicity versus the more complicated procedure you have to go through to build your own key from another distro. If you're happy creating one yourself, more power to you (and you can do it with Mandriva, without paying anything) - but this isn't aimed at you.

    (Disclaimer - In case anyone doesn't know: I work for Mandriva).

  10. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Up

    Small corrections

    Thanks a lot for the review, Scott. Just a couple of minor points. The support for reading and writing NTFS is not non-free; it uses a completely open source implementation called ntfs-3g.

    And just to correct a possible implication of "While the non-free aspects of Mandriva might make purists hestitate" - it's worth pointing out that there is (and always has been) a completely free edition of Mandriva available, Mandriva Linux Free. There's no 100% open source version of the Flash available, but there *is* an edition of the mainstream distro that's acceptable to free software purists. :)

  11. Stan

    @Ian Michael Gumby

    Ubuntu-on-a-stick wasn't much for IBM, there Linux-in-a-watch was impressive though, an x-server on your wrist would really pull the chicks...

    Hope Mandriva-on-a-stick sells well, USB key distros are a great idea but they tend to be too slow for normal use, the read-write speeds for this one are more than fast enough though. Stupid question; can a PS3 boot from a USB key?


  12. J


    Nice that they are doing this, I wish them success -- although I don't believe they'll sell many of these. Mind you, the type of geeky person who'd think "if I only had Linux on a USB stick" is also the type who will most probably do it themselves anyway... Or maybe not. Anyway, nice that they did something specific. I wonder whether it works with ANY USB-bootable PC computer.

    My own experience with Linux on a stick: just before going to my vacation back home to visit my family, I bought a 4 GB stick and installed Ubuntu 7.10 on it (actually I tried 8.04 first, but it wouldn't get past the orange screen). I installed it pretending it was a hard drive. By the way, I did this because I wanted to be sure I would have a safe computer to use there, and thought that booting Mother's Vista laptop from the USB thingie would do it. It worked beautifully in that little Vayo (I had created the stick using an old Dell desktop), much faster than Vista running from the HD, even. I didn't expect it to work so well, without any customization regarding the fact that it was not running from an HD. Before booting the Vayo, I also tried booting an Acer, and THAT one didn't want to work... That's why I wonder whether the Mandriva guys have found a way around this type of incompatibility (without using a "live CD + writable partition" approach, but using the "fake HD" one).

  13. Mark Daniels
    Thumb Up

    @ Adam Williamson

    I agree 100%. I have been using Linux on my laptop for a while. Not Mandriva / Mandrake, [sorry : it is french after all ;-)] and I have had all sorts of issues with different apps. Once simply one was voip. I dont use skype, I use a sipgate. Personally I prefer it and it is much cheaper for the countries I call..... but it is a WinApp.

    The thought of shoving it in and it working is something I love, and it may mean that I no long have to dual boot, taking up extra HD space, and actually, I could now travel laptop-less.

    Vive le France......

  14. Nicolas Vigier
    Thumb Up


    I don't think a PS3 can boot on USB, but it wouldn't work anyway, you need a distribution built for PPC to run on a PS3.

  15. Kevin Whitefoot

    Puppy Linux

    For all those who think that putting Linux on a USB stick is difficult please take a look at Barry Kauler's Puppy Linux ( Much lighter than most other distros and very esy to install.

    Speed of the drive is not a problem because Puppy is so small it loads the whole system into a ram drive.

  16. dwr 50


    Get the Live CD for Free and try it first. Mandriva is almost like Apple,it just works :-)

    Acer Aspire 5315-2153, $348 Walmart Special,Mandriva Linux 2008.1 Spring Edition. The fist Linux distro where everything worked, on this laptop, the first time !

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sure it has been done before

    But, I think this a first from the commercial Linux distros.

    Community distros are always ahead, but they expect you to know what you are doing.

    Consumers don't like the opensource approach, it is too hard for them to work with, they like things boxed up, and sold on a stick, with a cute brand attached.

    Installing to a usb stick is like installing a complete system, and there are some tricks to it, size is a consideration. Same sort of tricks Knoppix was doing, but Knoppix hasn't yet moved to a flash position, and you cannot just take an ISO, loop or cpio it and expect it to work. You need to setup a boot sector, and allow for change management. Wear leveling also raises it's head a bit.

    So, well done Mandriva, nice to see a Linux product again. They use to sell Linux in the computer stores, complete with manuals etc. Once they have the product they can offer to sell it to distributors, if that USB stick is good then some will buy it.

    They could even look into a deal with internet cafes, you could be offered a complete OS to take away with you.

  18. Pierre
    Thumb Up


    And I might even get one. Just to support French OSS makers -life's been hard for them lately. Of course, as every decent geek, I already have my own customized bootable flash drive, and even a "bootable" SD card (at least it would be bootable if my bios knew how to boot from it), but a new toy is always nice, and if it's for a charity...

  19. Pierre

    PS - vi*

    While we're on this subject (Vi), real lifeless geeks use only vigor. Plus, the name is nice to get chicks, too.

  20. Adrian Esdaile

    RE: an x-server on your wrist would really pull the chicks...

    nah, a C-128 running in C-64 mode, running Elite, running on a stoat!

    Step 3? - PROFIT!

  21. Tuomo Stauffer

    On this side of the pond..

    It is unfortunate in US that Mandriva is not even mentioned in most articles of Linux. Yes, Mandriva has had their ups and downs but as a (paying) user I have found that Mandriva is a nice balance between casual user and hard core user. Paying because even currently running on my own, I still think that the small amount you pay even if you can get it free may make a difference.

    Even I moved from programming to systems design and architecture a long time ago, I still love USB (or CD, DVD, whatever) capability to boot (in) a computer. Often the environment I have to work just doesn't have the tools and toys, and in case like that your "own" system is a huge time saver. Of course Mandriva is not the only one, I carry a couple of other Linux distros, Open Solaris, BSD, etc on several USBs, CDs and DVDs (with different database systems, etc) with me. I can even bring up VM and MVS on almost any system - now, if I could do that legally with Windows?

  22. zyxyzx

    Linux on a flash disc...

    How revolutionary ... Knoppix anyone...

    Also, it's not an especially difficult thing to do. Once you've practiced a couple of times, you can produce one in about 15 minutes.

    Check out

    for more info.

    Admittedly this tutorial is primarily for use in a windows system, but it's essentially a matter of making couple of .bat files, and a Knoppix iso.

    Also, just for the record, I'm a total linux noob, and I managed it.

  23. Serrio

    I was amused

    You can actually buy the CD version of mandriva in my local PC World. It's on the shelf alongside Windows, no less.

  24. Matt Pedley
    Thumb Up

    Mandriva is Linux that works

    I have been through a few distros recently trying to find something that actually works with my laptop. After trying a few I finally stumbled upon Mandriva and yes it works great, looks great, has KDE, openoffice (i don't like KOffice) and i've just downloaded Firefox 3 also working great (except backspace doesn't go back a page?).

    The problem I find with linux is that if I have no net connection I cannot update, install apps, find help etc. I have spent hours before rebooting between linux and windows searching the web for help, downloading packages etc. I look at the Mandriva package list and it contains ndiswrapper as standard, also it offers to set it up automatically during installation and it works.

    I have limited Linux experience but am experienced with hardware and windows.

    Others I have tried:

    Debian, like this and have it on my desktop, however ndiswrapper did not work on my laptop (Broadcom wifi, not tried bw-cutter) so never got a net connection working.

    Ubuntu, Install CD wouldn't boot, did the in-windows install, was very slow and unattractive, why would anyone use this instead of full Debian? It didn't offer to help me setup wifi which can't be right for a newbie distro.

    Fedora, didn't really have the stuff I wanted as standard, and without getting wifi working I could not change.

    Very pleased with Mandriva, will keep hold of the Debian DVD as I like that too but do not expect I will uninstall Mandriva for quite some time.

  25. Simon Barrett

    @Kevin Whitefoot

    Much as I love Puppy Linux, the dangers inherent in running a full desktop as root (as Puppy Linux does) prevent me from using it and recommending it to others. I know the arguments for it in the case of Puppy - not meant to be a full time installatoin, only for quick fixes or for access to utilities on the go, etc. but I'd still consider it as irresponsible as, say, running xp without antivirus or a firewall. Securing computers is all about minimizing the odds of compromise. To simply disregard one of the biggest security benefits of using Linux for the sake of convenience is reckless.

    Mandriva have shown that a robust multi-user environment with good hardware support and privilege separation is possible in a portable form. I can't see how the compromise is justifiable.

  26. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Up


    As has already been pointed out in a previous comment, the first version of Mandriva Flash came out in December 2006 - two months before that guide, you'll note. And as *also* pointed out in a previous comment, we're perfectly well aware that it's relatively easy (for geeks) to build your own distro-on-a-stick, but that's not the point. This is aimed at people for whom that *would* be difficult, and who just don't want to go through the hassle. Just read my previous comment, "Ian - By Adam Williamson - Posted Saturday 21st June 2008 00:05 GMT".

    Flash also has some features you won't get just by installing a regular distro to a USB stick.

  27. Hugh Forsyth
    Thumb Up


    Well I just bought one anyway. I'll let you know how I get on if this article is still active when it arrives. I think this may be a couple of weeks so perhaps not.

    I'm a Linux virgin so will be a good test subject (although I do have some average Unix skills so maybe not exactly a novice consumer).

    Bring it on.

  28. Tom King

    Updating kernel?

    When a kernel update is added to a Fedora persistent flash key, it doesn't allow you to boot from the new kernel version. Try removing the old kernel and it renders the key useless. I haven't investigated it for a few months.

    Do kernel updates work with Mandriva's USB key?

  29. E


    Oh no, no way! No no no no no!

    Vigor, from it's sourceforge page, is one of the most disturbing developments I've seen on the *nix front in many years.

    I don't know whether to nominate the programmer for best joke or schedule him for termination.

  30. cat_goo_me

    Flash Mandriva

    Yes Mndriva in flash works, but with such "bug" - the old Pravda 2007. Recently tried "BackTrack 3 final-usb" - "Mandriva" and "Fedora" fell below zero. Installation is targeted at the average user, roughly speaking-to fool and neither are "dancing with Diamonds" sistemnika around! This is my understanding that other people did with "soul" and not for money - as "Mandriva"!

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