Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Take Your Linux Desktop Everywhere

Take your desktop with you on a USB stick and access it anywhere with the Ubuntu Live CD.
Wouldn't it be handy if you could walk up to any random computer, insert a copy of the Ubuntu Live CD, plug in a USB key, boot it up, and have a fully working system with your own documents, settings, and programswithout modifying the computer in any way?

A little-known feature of the Ubuntu Dapper Drake Live CD allows you to do exactly that. When it starts up, it searches for a volume that has been given the label casper-cow and uses it to store documents, themes, and even extra programs that you install.
This is far more powerful than just booting up a live CD and mounting a memory stick as your home directory because it's not restricted to just storing your documents. It gives you the flexibility of a fully installed system, while retaining the "go anywhere" feature of a live CD.
You can perform this trick with just about any storage device, including removable USB hard disks and compact flash drives, but for this we use a USB memory stick because they're cheap, portable, and commonly available in increasingly large capacities.

Plug in your usb and backup the datas in it coz u r gonna format it.

Once you've backed up your files, it's time to unmount the device:

$ sudo umount


If the system refuses to unmount because the device is still in use, just close any other windows you have open and try again.

Then create a new filesystem with the correct label:

$ sudo mkfs.ext3 -b 4096 -L casper-cow


Plug your USB memory stick into the target machine, power up the computer, and quickly insert the Dapper Drake Live CD. If the computer is not configured to boot from CD-ROM, you may need to press a key (Del or F2) at startup to enter the BIOS settings menu.

When the Live CD starts up, you will see a menu. Normally, you would just press Enter to start the boot process, but instead, press F4 to access the Other Options menu that allows you to start up the Live CD in special modes.

You'll see a list of the arguments that will be passed to the kernel on startup; just add a space and type persistent, then hit Enter.

The computer will now boot from the Live CD in persistent mode, but you won't see anything different. In fact, it can be quite hard to tell if it even worked or not. As a simple test, you can try changing something obvious, such as your desktop picture, and then you can log out and reboot the computer back into persistent mode. If everything worked properly, your desktop picture will still be set as you specified

when running in persistent mode, the system on the Live CD allows items on your memory stick to override items within the Live CD environment. The next time the Live CD sets the desktop, it detects that a new setting has been stored on the device and applies it instead of the default setting. The Live CD therefore provides the basic data for a complete, functional environment, and any changes you make to that environment are written to the removable device and used to override the default settings.

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