I can just about imagine that some, if not most of you have been in a situation where you thought : “Darn, I wish I had my own PC handy”. Just think back to all those happy memories when you had to visit friends or family and wanted to use “their” pc to “quickly” check something on the internets, only to find out that the computer in case was a mallware infested slug of a PC with Windows XP (No Servicepack) with an Internet explorer version six sporting an extra number of spyware toolbars that made the pages allmost invisible to read. You know ? The machine that has even been abandoned by Bonzi Buddy, cause even the bleu monkey said ” Screw this, i’m leaving ?”. Or otherwise just think of those “public” computers in Hotels and libraries, with the sticky keyboards and the shady icons in the toolbar.. Seriously .. is THIS the machine you want to do some googling on, or even worse , log in to Facebook ?
Lets face it. Using a computer that is not exclusively yours, is always a risk. God knows what kind of mallware is running in the background. You, as a geek, have a sence of security and know that you can “trust” your own system. But you don’t know what dialog boxes with a flashing YES button your aunty has clicked. You have no idea what keyloggers might be running in the background. Its like blowing your nose on a wet towel in the public restrooms at the subway. Ya never know what germs you bring home.
Well, we have good news for you. You can have your very own safe and secure operating system with you anywhere you go .. as long as you have a USB stick and don’t mind running Linux. ( well, who am I kidding, of COURSE you don’t mind). With applications like Yumi Multiboot USB creator and Multios, its never been easier to run not one, but SEVERAL operating systems of a USB stick.
These apps help you in installing multiple distributions of Linux onto a usb stick that you then can use at your own leisure. Shady public computer in the library ? Use your own OS from the Usb stick. Windows XP laptop at a friends place ? Use your own OS from the USB stick .. and so on. with the advent of larger USB sticks (or even usb powered harddrives) you can have several linux distributions on your portable media and choose what to use.
Persistent versus “live”.
The way it works is pretty easy. With *MULTIBOOT* you just open the application, select your USB drive and drag-and-drop any distribution ISO file onto the application. This way you’ll be able to select from those different operating systems when you boot with your Usb Stick. This si a great way to “test and try” some of these Os’es in “live cd” mode on your hardware, giving you distro”s like Ubuntu, Slackware, Arch, Debian, Fedora or even Puppy linux whenever you need them. If its a “Live CD” ISO file, its gonna boot. These operating systems boot in “live cd mode” and are unaffected by changes. Power down and everything is once again “out of the box”. Pretty cool if you want to use a “vanilla OS” out of the box for doing shady things like surfing porn OR want to do ultra secure things like banking. The OS is “clean” of any traces of usage when you reboot.
But what if you DO want to “save your changes”. What if you want your own “personalised” operating system “on a stick” whereever you go. You can ! Just use the “persistent” mode and select the ammount of drivespace you would like to “store” your stuff on and “voila” there you go : Your own portable operating system.
But of course, lets take it one step further and have technology work for you. Its spiffy to have a few Linux distributions on there, but how about some antivirus distributions to do a secure scan of those virus riddled windows machines. AVG antivirus offers a great “live cd” of their AVG antivirus that you can boot of your stick. It connects to the net, fetches updates and scans the system you are working on. Or how about some “privacy” (and proxy busting) with anonym.os. Have some partitions to move ? Use the Gparted Live Cd Iso from your stick and partition all you want. Or do you want to “image” your moms windows machine for faster reinstallation afterwards ? Pull up the Clonezilla live cd and do that !
As you can see the possibilities are endless. Its pretty geeky to have your “own os on a stick”. Its even MORE geeky to have an entire “virtual toolkit” hanging from your keyring. You’ll quickly find that this way of working offers you easy workarounds to Windows Password protection (lol) , Proxy’s, Local passwords and more. Have technology work for you in ‘creative ways’ and run it “from a stick”.
I’ve listed up a few “special” distro’s you can use on your USB stick. Do you know some other cool ones we could use ? Post it in the comments section or on our facebook page and share your geek knowledge.
You can build your personal power-pen-drive using ..