13 June 2006

Open Source's Secret Weapon

Imagine being able to change your PC into a dedicated music machine, or into a tool for investigating networks. Imagine being able to swap between quite different sets of installed applications. Imagine being able to choose between hundreds of different systems - without installing a single file.

Welcome to the world of live GNU/Linux CDs.

I've always thought the ability to plug a CD into a PC, and then boot it up into a complete, ready-installed system one of the biggest boons of GNU/Linux and open source. After, you just can't do this with Windows (not legally, anyway). But the whole point of open source is mix and match, and this has led to an extraordinary wealth of live CDs - with more coming through all the time.

I had intended to write a series of articles on this (I've already done a short one for the Guardian), but I see that someone has already beaten me to it on LWN.net (disclosure: I write for them too). It's a four-parter, and looks well-worth reading.

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