Freeduc USB

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Beginning from October 2009, most of the advances in the distribution Freeduc, which were earlier available in the category Freeduc CD of this wiki, will now be part of the category Freeduc USB.

Contents

New versions of Freeduc

When stable enough, new versions of Freeduc should be downloadable from server grids like sourceforge.net, as the distribution Freeduc-CD.

During their maturation time, those distributions may be available in our ftp website.

Why USB?

Even older computers are now equiped with at least one low-speed USB port, when they come with more than 256 mega-bytes of memory. As this amount of memory is the minimum necessary to run efficiently every version of Freeduc-CD, a distribution on media like live USB sticks seems as opportune as the distribution on live CDROM media.

Advantages and limitations

Pros:

  • USB media are writable: so their contents can be modified, so persistent data may exist
  • the length of life of a flash USB stick seems to outbeat the length of life of many available CD-Rs and CD-RWs.
  • USB plugs are likely to be more immune than CDROM drives to dust, and more easily cleansed.
  • recent USB sticks are quite as affordable as CD-RWs for the same data size.

Cons:

  • USB media can be physically unplugged during their usage. This can result in damages in the persistent data area. However when there is a separation between read-only data and read-write data, it is easy to come back to a "factory configuration", just be zeroing the read-write area.
  • The access to the data can be slower than with CDROMs when low-speed USB hardware is used.
  • Some computers do not accept to boot with USB mass storage media. However this can be circumvented by using a bootable CDROM which gives the control to a USB stick after the boot.

USB live media

Various USB live media generators

USB live media and persistent data

Software freedom and live media

If you know something about distributions of proprietary software made with bootable USB sticks, please drop a comment here!

As a USB stick can be easily copied, and booted on quite any computer, its usages most often are not compatible with EULAs.

On the contrary, free software are completely compatible with the usage of live USB media. Si Hung Chao-Kuei's article about Fleets of USB Keys.

OFSET's tools to generate free live USB sticks

The tools used in our association are free software. They are available to download in Gna!'s repository.

A typical round-trip to Freeduc-USB's development session

  1. boot with a live USB stick (version N of Freeduc-USB), or chroot into a copy of its contents on a hard drive.
  2. hack happily! use at will "apt-get install", "apt-get remove", or any other trick. Note that only apt-getting well-behaving Debian packages induces unrollable changes. Use other methods at your own risks.
  3. reboot in your favorite environment, or get off the chroot jail, and make a compressed image of the new contents. Our scripts make it easy to manage with the necessary clean-ups and settings, they enable also to overcome the limit of 2 giga-bytes of data in one directory tree. This last step lasts about a quarter of an hour with recent ordinary computers (provided their memory has a size greater than 1 Gigabyte, and that they use a hard disk to store data). This results in your version N+1 of Freeduc-USB.

Generating the new distribution with very high-level tools

The tools wich have been developed for Freeduc-CD allow contributors to cope with education-level questions: not details of apt-get or customizing details, but the choice of end-user applications, their place in the desktop environment, and the tight relation between user environment and Freeduc-book which is automatically generated to provide a reliable user's manual.

How to use Freeduc's high-level tools

The previous experiences have shown that people already taught to use efficiently a distribution as Debian or Ubuntu are easily trained to use OFSET's toolset to make live distributions. If you are interested to use this toolset, please drop an e-mail to OFSET's mailing list.

Links to other USB sticks usable in Education

* Sugar on a stick (French page)
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