Stage 1: Portable Multi-Distro Linux USB Drive

Like the title says, I want to install 5 Linux distributions on my USB drive. It is a Western Digital Scorpio drive with 80GB of space. I thought it was broken and unusable until I plugged it in recently. Seems it was the pc that wasn’t reading it right after all. Now that I have a new power supply unit in this old box, everything seems peachy. I was using the drive as a back up but I already have 3 hard drives and only 2 are currently plugged in. I ran out of IDE connectors. Did I mention it’s old? :p

I have my drives set up to work independently as I sometimes take them out and test them on other pc’s. I don’t need all of them to be hooked up just to boot up one drive or OS. I just invoke the BIOS Boot Menu using F11 during POST and pick the one I want. Simple and easy for me.

I used my GParted Live CD to make the partitions the way they are now. See image below. Shrunk my NTFS I use as a windows back up sometimes. Next up was 2 Gigs of swap then an extended 60GB partition for my /home and 5 partitions for the Linux distributions I want to try. Looks nice and organized and most importantly – it works fine.

GParted Screenshot of USB Drive Partitions

I got the torrent from LinuxMint.com and got some rest while waiting for it to finish. Burned it at the lowest possible speed using the simple CD writer in Linux Ubuntu 8.04, my primary distribution. I had some issues booting up the Live CD. I got an “(initramfs)” prompt instead of a regular desktop. Using the Compatibility Mode, I found out that it was some error with it not detecting the floppy and SCSI devices. I used the Live CD troubleshooting guide provided by nice people in the Mint Forums. Pressed F6 during splash, pressed tab, deleted “quiet splash–” and entered “all_generic_ide”. That worked and let me into the Live environment. I liked what I saw, was curious and proceeded.

The installation was smooth. My first boot was met with the famous Grub Error 17 and 18. The reason being how the BIOS and the Live CD arranged the drives. In the Live CD, the usb drive was third and my BIOS read it as the first drive. The solution was to edit the menu.lst and change all references to (hd2,4) to (hd0,4), which is where my Mint is.

Tried again and here I am posting the results. Four more distributions to go. I’ve narrowed down my choices based on release date, number of packages and most important is the community or support. I did not include Linux Ubuntu since I’m already using that and it has its own hard drive in my pc. The list goes:

  • ArchLinux – 10/07/2007 with 15,000 packages
  • Debian – 04/08/2007 with 26,000 packages
  • Fedora – 05/13/2008 with 8,000 packages
  • Mandriva – 04/09/2008 with 16,000 packages
  • Sabayon – 09/07/2007 with 12,000 packages
  • Sidux – 04/12/2008 with 22,950 packages
  • [Simply]MEPIS – 12/23/2007 with 20,000 packages

*data is based on http://en.wikipedia.org

I wanted the distribution to be recent, within the last year or 2 years, so I wouldn’t be learning something that’s at the end of its life cycle. I wanted as much packages as possible because… just because. I’m still a beginner and still have a lot to learn. Now I have not looked into the community or support sites for these distributions yet. Well, I went into Debian once but for after reading some threads, I felt unwelcome because of my choice of OS – Ubuntu. I will give it another go and keep an open mind.

That’s about it for today. The rest is yet to be determined. Hopefully, I’ll get more information in a few days and start installing a 2nd OS on my USB drive. Until then…

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Upgrading Linux Ubuntu: Gutsy Gibbon 7.10 to Hardy Heron 8.04

Currently waiting for the Update Manager do move my Linux installation another step to Hardy Heron 8.04. My request for CD’s from ShipIt have been approved but I have some free time and I can’t wait anymore. Gotta see what the chatter is all about. It has been a month and feedback from my fellow users in UbuntuForums more or less say that it’s safe to dive in. So here I go.

Internet speed is not at optimum at the moment since someone is playing an online game on the other PC. But I’m not in any hurry. Plenty of time to watch, wait and write. Estimated time to finish is in approximately 4 hours and 45 minutes. I think I should be able to catch a nap before any “Yes or No” dialog boxes come up.

There are a few things I’m concerned about. I wonder if my compiz-fusion and conky settings will be saved. Or any other setting for that matter. They’re supposed to be intact after an upgrade. I’ll know for sure once this is complete. I haven’t really done a full diagnostic on this since I installed Linux Ubuntu Feisty 7.04 last year. I have plenty of unallocated space in my hard drive and I’m thinking about trying out another Linux flavor. Which one is yet to be decided. For now, shuteye…

Jumpstart Changes

A suggestion was posted asking for the removal of the Jumpstart server altogether because of the low activity compared to the Normal server. There was vote was held in the forum giving the players a chance to have their say on the game. Majority of the players chose to increase the turn rate of the Jumpstart server. How fast will it be? No announcements have been made but we’ll find out soon. There’s only 7 days left before Havoc starts. There is no start date yet for the next reset. The new and improved server aims to increase player activity as well as the current player base.