Friday, May 9, 2014

5 Reason to use Linux on Pen Drive

By now you would have heard about Linux Operating system (OS), (if not then do a quick read here).  Open source and free nature of Linux has given birth to many Linux distribution, each catered for different reason.

Linux has matured, stabilized and grown so much that its the most used operating system in world now. Huge number of servers has Linux, Your TV, setup-box, Washing machine, Wi-Fi router, Android, Car, Camera, Flight entertainment system, and many more system run Linux under the hood. This is all capable due to building blocks that open-source and Linux has provide for developers.

This blog talks about customizing Linux and installing it on Pen Drive and using it for various reasons. If you are new to Linux then you will have to read some more articles around Linux and give a try to install and run couple of Linux distros. You will learn lot in the process and know how system works. If you are Intermediate/geek then lot of things below will come easy to understand and work on.

Linux Distros/Distributions - As pointed above, Linux comes in various shapes and sizes and people have customized it to make it run for various purposes. Many software engineers around world have tweaked Linux and created a new distro. Check out Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Fedora and more here.

Why Linux ? 

  • Secure by default. Its a modern OS and implements the right architecture to make it secure
  • Customizable - Linux is the most customizable OS I have ever seen. Look at the number of distros and UI options it provides to user.  You can get easy to use Linux (Ubuntu / Fedora or Mint) or get a raw Linux that you can setup yourself if you are geek.
  • Free apps via 'Software repositories'. Huge set of apps available for free with single place to install. You can be sure of security and price as its installed from one place from trusted source
  • Linux is the most worked on Operating system by developers around the world. Source code is open to all can that benefits Linux to get issues fixed rapidly
  • Fast - Installing Linux on any laptop/desktop can make you realize how fast your system responds to you as compared to Windows. No unwanted software, best usage of hardware resources, and customization to suite low & high-end hardware. Try installing Linux on your old laptop to give it a new life.
  • Free & Open source - Its totally free and open-source. You can use Linux distros for personal and commercial purposes for free. Open-source nature has attracted developers around globe to work on cool technology and make it better everyday. You get advantage of fast pace development of Linux which no other operating system in world provides.  
  • It provides building blocks to make your own Linux catered for specific usage. Look at various devices Linux runs in and that should give you a picture how Linux can be shaped and made to work in variety of hardware 

Why YOU should learn/use Linux ?
1. Linux is not for geeks. Ubuntu / Fedora / Mint Linux has been developed for every day use and you can just start using it with all set of applications installed for you. Apps similar to Word, Excel & PowerPoint all setup for you and you don't need to pay to anyone to use it. No license or fees required!

2. Linux is way to go forward as it provides ton of customizations. You will be using Linux in one or other form and learning/using Linux will help you in long run    

3. Buying Windows machine with all set of third-party apps preloaded is going to charge you more. If you are buying new laptop, go for OS free machine and then setup Ubuntu / Fedora / Mint. You will avoid all unwanted apps and promotional software

Give it a try with Linux Live CD:
All Linux Distros provide mechanism for users to try out Linux before you install it - That's called Linux Live CD. You need to download a CD format of Linux and burn it on CD/DVD. You then need to reboot your machine with CD option and you should be able to test drive Linux on your machine. Running Linux-Live does NOT impact your machine in anyway. You can then decide to install if you are happy with the applications and user interface.

Screenshot showing Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Here are five reasons why you should install Linux on Pen Drive and use it. 

1. Scan and Clean Windows Viruses:  
Windows viruses can go deep and infect badly. Viruses can hide themselves and no one can find them (e.g. rootkits). These can be better cleaned by loading Linux OS and then scanning your Windows machine. AntiVirus programs on Windows can detect Windows Viruses and clean them up. Install ClamAV or AVG Linux AntiVirus on you Linux Distro and scan all mounted drives, then reboot to cleaner version of Windows.

2. Boot your desktop environment on public/friends computer for privacy: 

Once you get Linux on your Pen Drive, you can boot to your own Linux environment using USB boot. All modern computers (5-7 year old) do provide boot option which you can enable. Linux from Pen Drive will boot up with all your apps. This will not impact the host Windows OS. There will not be any traces left of browser history or passwords or your files on your friends PC as you operate on your own Linux environment.

As you own your Linux environment, you can have all your favourite apps and thus you don't need to install/uninstall any software on friends computer - I think its a better way to just use the machine as keyboard and screen and not all the software/OS.

3. Boot to safe environment (No key loggers): 
With Linux Distro and applications you install from 'Software repository' its unlikely that your Linux environment can get infected with Keyloggers. Keyloggers are viruses which capture all your keyboard inputes and sends to server, this will include all your emails, username, passwords and credit card info that you enter online.

Booting from your Pen Drive Linux, no keyloggers from public/friends computer will run and that will ensure everything you type will be safe and not be passed anywhere.

4. Backup Data from hard-disk if it fails to boot Windows: 
Hard disk are not lifelong. They come with their max age of usage and using beyond is risky. If your Windows PC is old enough then there are changes that hard-disk can fail and your data may get trapped. Your Windows machine may not boot up and you may not get a chance to backup. Good way to give it a try is to boot using your Linux from Pen Drive. Once your boot Linux, you can try mounting your Windows drive and repair it. You may be able to see files and be able to copy them to external hard-disk. Booting from USB come to rescue when your data is in risk.

5. Save your Laptop/data from  theft: 
If you can carry entire Linux environment with you in Pen drive then you don;t need a laptop. You can use any public/friends computer for sometime and boot to your favorite environment. A good way to avoid carring laptop/tablet and risk of getting it stolen in public places.

If you lose your USB, your data on it still can be secure enough. You can encrypt your users home drive while installation and thus to open any file, it will need a password. For a thief or anyone your drive is just an blank USB which can be reused.

System requirements before you start:  Minimum 2 GB Pen Drive & 1 GB of RAM

How to Install Linux on Pen Drive & use it: 
Here is step by step guide do install Ubuntu Linux on Pen Drive. I would prefer using Lubuntu OS, as its stable and lightweight

Once you create USB drive with Linux, reboot your machine and select USB boot from your boot setup. Here is how.

Feel free to post comments or queries. I will be able to help you out setup your pen-drive or point you to right set of steps if you are facing problem.

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