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There are several uses for shoving Linux distros inside a USB flash drive. For instance, they can be quite handy when you need to use somebody else’s computer.
Or, perhaps you need to boot into a live Linux environment to troubleshoot issues with your computer, or perhaps to transfer data from a dying disk.
Irrespective of your use case, you can use any of the following distros to boot into a fully functional Linux computer desktop without the efforts of anchoring it to your disk. I’m this article, we’ll be guiding you on the best Linux distro to run from your USB so read on.
Our Top 3 Picks for Best Linux Distro To Run From USB
Pleasing Modification Linux Distro To Run From USB
In our opinion, Linux Lite is one of the best options for accelerating regular desktop Linux tasks. The Ubuntu-based distro uses the Xfce desktop with aesthetically pleasing modifications. The distro offers a good compromise between speed and functionality, and exposes all useful desktop features while still being responsive and fast.
Linux Lite looks and feels like a regular mainstream distro. Its list of pre-installed programs doesn’t include any of the traditional lightweight apps and is instead brimming with the usual suspects such as GIMP, Firefox, VLC and LibreOffice.
On top of this you can also easily pull in other popular programs such as Kodi, Skype, Steam, Spotify and more using the custom Lite Software application. In fact, the distro includes several homebrewed Lite-branded tools for interacting and customizing various aspects of the desktop and the installation.
There’s a welcome screen that enables users to install updates and drivers, and set up a backup restore point, a program to help upgrade to the latest release, and another to manage users. One of the most useful ones is Lite Tweaks, which helps users with common admin tasks. You can use it to free up memory, remove older kernels and install new ones.
Pros and Cons
- The whole OS runs off of RAM
- Designed to run as a live USB/CD
- Different distro based versions available.
- Not as light as it used to be
- Smallest software library ever
Stable Peppermint 7 Linux Distro To Run From USB
Peppermint is a lightweight Linux distro based mostly on packages in the Ubuntu repositories along with some key components from Linux Mint.
This is a fast and lightweight distro that uses the LXDE desktop, although its developers are quite happy to cherry-pick elements from other desktops, such as the use of the Nemo file manager from Cinnamon for its handling of network shares.
It also uses Xfce’s window manager, menu, and panel, keeping to the traditional desktop metaphor, while still allowing a few modern conveniences like type-to-search in the menu.
Peppermint’s USP is the home-brewed tool called ICE, which can turn websites into web apps, technically known as Site Specific Browsers or SSBs, and roll them into the application menu.
The SSB web apps have a minimal browser interface and some of them really look well integrated into the desktop. In the latest release, Ice now has support for isolated profiles for Firefox, Chromium, Chrome, and Vivaldi SSBs.
A number of web apps are set up out of the box, including Microsoft Office Online, Google apps and BetterThanChess.com which uses WebGL to provide a glorious 3D chess experience. These are complimented by several traditional desktop apps as well such as the Firefox web browser. You can also flesh out the distro using mintInstall package manager.
Pros and Cons
- It works well “Out Of The Box”
- Pro Peppermint 7 is stable
- Peppermint 9OS (32 and 64 bit) has been updated to the Respin PPA.
- Since it is based on Lubuntu, the double click speed needs to be slowed down.
- Aesthetically the Peppermint OS is too much retro.
Customizable Linux Distro To Run From USB
One of our all-time favorites, Puppy Linux is one of the first of the miniscule distros that had its first release way back in 2003. Puppy is built from the ground up and has grown beyond its original mandate of resurrecting older hardware that had been rendered useless due to lack of support in other mainstream distributions.
Unlike most distros, Puppy Linux is not a single distro but rather a collection of several distros, some official and some put together by its community of users. Each of the different Puppy distros comes with unique features.
A key feature of the official Puppy releases is that they’re modular. You can easily swap out components including the kernel and various programs to create a streamlined Puppy.
Despite its miniscule size, there’s no beating Puppy for out-of-the-box functionality and there’s an app for virtually every task that you can perform on a desktop. First-time users will be surprised that the tiny distro includes some programs that you wouldn’t find even in full-fledged distros.
However, it’s no surprise that the light distro skips over mainstream programs in favor of lightweight options. For starters, the distro uses Joe’s Window Manager as its window manager together with the fox-filer file manager that gives it its distinctive appearance.
Puppy Linux can run from all sorts of removable media, though it’s best used from a USB stick. When you shutdown a Live session, Puppy offers to save all the changes inside a file that can optionally be encrypted for added security.
Pros and Cons
- Highly customizable
- Linux Lite is a highly customizable OS.
- Good performance
- Working with local files can be messy.
- No automatic partitioning by the installer.
Linux Lite is high performing, efficient and stable Linux distro based on Debian. CPU performance of Linux Lite is better than many others. For programming, you must consider Linux Lite, because it has more developing and coding features than many other OS.
Puppy Linux is a very satisfying distribution to use, especially on old hardware. Setting up Puppy Linux is actually quite trivial if you have the patience to read and have somewhat of a technical background.
I think that even someone with basic computer knowledge could do it. I highly recommend giving Puppy a walk around the block. It’s a great experience and maybe even a right of Linux passage. You can check out other products on Amazon.com