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Author Topic: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive  (Read 5643 times)

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DaveLembke

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BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« on: February 06, 2017, 07:39:32 AM »
Was looking for a minimalist LIVE Linux Distro that had web browser and flash. Found this distro which is sort of an out of date project.

http://www.browserlinux.com/

Tested this on a 3 year old computer and it worked to surf online but some flash didnt function properly such as Flash based games. Performance was slower than expected that made me wonder if it was even using all 4 cores for the OS itself since its just a 93mb ISO, and system has 4GB RAM, I would have expected all contents of this distro to load into RAM and everything be lightning fast not having to run back to CD but it was much slower than I expected having to wait 10-20 seconds at times for a web page to completely load with all content.

Initial boot it cant figure out what display resolution to go with and i had to tell it 1024x768 and then it loaded.

As far as bugs go, it told me that my volume level was set to 65264% and I had no sound. Firefox on this would sometimes load a page slowly and other times not load a page, yet if you go to the same url again it would load.

On shutdown it gives option to write changes to a hard drive so the Live OS can actually target a Hard Drive to load a prior session yet not be installed to the hard drive was interesting. First time seeing a Live Distro that gave option to save system changes to a hard drive without install actually.

I use to use Knoppix years ago but Knoppix has become kind of bloated vs minimalist as far as Live Distros go. I have a laptop that doesnt have a hard drive in it and was thinking of going the route of a Live CD in it.

This same laptop I have installed Linux bootable to a USB 8GB stick and that works, but its throttled by the slow USB communication. So I was thinking there must be a distro that might load from CD or DVD directly into RAM and then not need to constantly fetch files from a disc, it should be fast because it all fits within RAM by mounting a RAMDrive and everything running in RAM. But I have yet to find an OS that can do just that for Linux to boot off of media and then after loaded into RAM, everything then a shuffle within RAM itself as to what it needs.

Figured I'd share this and see if anyone knows of a better Live Linux Distro that would be used mainly for web surfing and flash based games but not crawl because it had to constantly load data off of a Disc or constantly through USB 2.0 bottleneck? As well as if there is none that run after RAM injection any other distros to try out that are live and minimalist to see if that might work out better?

Laptop is a Core 2 Duo 1.6Ghz with 2GB RAM. The testing I did above was on a desktop 1.3Ghz quadcore with 4GB RAM.

Salmon Trout



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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2017, 02:22:35 PM »
First time seeing a Live Distro that gave option to save system changes to a hard drive without install actually.
There are plenty of live CD type Linux distros that have a 'persistence' feature that works if you use a USB stick. I am playing around with the Pixel Desktop x86 which is a live version of the Raspberry Pi Raspbian OS (a variant of Debian Jessie). It makes persistence easy. You can flash it to a USB flash drive using (for example) Etcher and use it to boot up an x86 computer. It will be in a 2.7 GB partition. If, the first time you use it,  you allow the default boot option ("boot with persistence") it creates a persistence partition on the drive out of the remaining space on the drive. Thereafter you get bash history, all the files that you create or save in the /home, /usr, /bin, etc folders, all your config changes persist, just like an installed Linux distro. You can install stuff with apt-get. I am running it on a 2009 Dell laptop with 2 GB of RAM and a 2.2 GHz Core 2 Duo and it works very well. It would work just as well with no hard drive in the Dell. It can see a USB external hard drive and you can map network shares, NAS folders, etc. I have got SSH and VNC working too. I can have a 1920 x 1080 desktop on my PC using VNC. I installed Samba and shared the external drive on the network. It was designed as a demo thing to give people the Raspberry Pi experience on PC hardware but it is a very usable and full featured OS.

Big discussion here

https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pixel-pc-mac/

Downloads:

1.3 GB ISO:

https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/pixel_x86/images/pixel_x86-2016-12-13/2016-12-13-pixel-x86-jessie.iso

SHA1 hash file to make sure you have a genuine image:

https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/pixel_x86/images/pixel_x86-2016-12-13/2016-12-13-pixel-x86-jessie.iso.sha1

Apparently it is very popular and the site is getting hammered, making downloads a bit slow, (like 1 hour on my 200 Mbit connection, another time 7 minutes) so helpfully they also supply the torrent file (3 minutes!):

https://downloads.raspberrypi.org/pixel_x86/images/pixel_x86-2016-12-13/2016-12-13-pixel-x86-jessie.iso.torrent

Etcher:

https://etcher.io/
« Last Edit: February 06, 2017, 02:33:18 PM by Salmon Trout »

DaveLembke

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2017, 03:37:24 PM »
Thanks for that info salmon.

I think I am starting to realize that I suppose the USB method with a persistent type of Live Distro might be better. Of the Live CD/DVD distros i played with many of them dont come with Flash Support by default. I go to play a flash based game and it tells me that i need Adobe Flash 11.5 installed or newer.

Was hoping there would be a live distro that could be small enough to load to system RAM and everything fast from there as for it wouldnt have to reference to a CD, DVD, or USB Flash drive to decompress and load a module or application etc. When I found the one that is 93MB in size I was hoping maybe it would load to RAM and no longer need to access the CD for example. Years ago I use to use Knoppix with the option at boot to where you could tell it to LOAD TO RAM. When this is performed everything is loaded to RAM and VERY FAST because nothing needs to be loaded at this point its all addressed quickly by the system. https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Knowing_Knoppix/Advanced_startup_options

But with a laptop with 2GB RAM and the latest Knoppix distros greater than 2GB at 4.3GB + the fact that in addition to an image going to RAM RAM also needs to be free for the OS to function in addition to the  RAM Drive Creation for the image to go to RAM, it wouldnt work with the 2GB RAM. Knoppix does have an out of date CD image that is 701MB but it hasnt been updated in almost 4 years which can be at boot told to LOAD TO RAM to make it fast performing, but as I been playing around and this image does load to RAM, the Flash Support isnt there and Flash needs to be installed.

So I think my options are to probably just go the route of the USB Stick and ignore how slow it is over USB this way I can create bootable drive and then add Flash 11.5 or newer support to it with the persistence set. As for the only other way to get around this would be to take say Knoppix  the CD ISO image and bring it forward with updates to Firefox etc and install flash, and then make a custom updated ISO that has the latest browser and Flash that would then exceed the 701MB, but maybe it will stay under 1GB to burn to a DVD-R but be able to be LOAD TO RAM and 1GB of system RAM would be RAM drive for the contents of Disc and other 1GB of the 2GB of the laptop RAM would be for the OS to function as if it were a system with a LIVE distro with 1GB RAM and 1GB Hard Drive ( read/write, but with contents wiped out on every boot ). Ive never made a custom bootable Linux disc before so I guess I will go with the USB stick with persistence and when i have some time pick away at a way to take Knoppix and bring it forward with Flash Support and latest browser, but older Linux Kernel from 2013.  :)

Update Note: Just checked out your links further.... I was thinking you were using Raspberry PI devices, but this is actually run on a PC as a i386 x86 image. COOL!!!  8)   Going to give this a try as for that would work well with 2GB RAM given the 3GB limit of x86 and they state it just needs 512MB RAM as a minimum requirement.  :)

Salmon Trout



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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2017, 03:49:02 PM »
My Raspbian/Pi x86 doesn't feel slow on the Dell with 2 GB RAM on a USB 3 pen drive in a USB 2 port. It wasn't sluggish on a USB 2 drive either. I have a Knoppix live USB 3 drive and it loads to RAM pretty quick on my desktop PC in a USB 3 port. In fact I have a 32 GB USB 3 pen drive permanently in one of my desktop PC's USB 3 ports. This drive is a Grub4DOS bootable with a whole bunch of ISOs - Knoppix v 7.4 DVD (4GB), Gparted, HiRen, Macrium Reflect Rescue Disk. It is very handy and not horribly slow in my opinion.



DaveLembke

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2017, 03:59:16 PM »
Cool  :)  Downloading the Pixel ISO now and going to try this out. Had a minor headache earlier and wasnt of clearest thought when answering to this and I just saw this information that I quoted below which is awesome, that Adobe Flash is included so I wouldnt be messing with having to update browsers and installing Flash, its already there.

Quote
PIXEL represents our best guess as to what the majority of users are looking for in a desktop environment: a clean, modern user interface; a curated suite of productivity software and programming tools, both free and proprietary; and the Chromium web browser with useful plugins, including Adobe Flash, preinstalled. And all of this is built on top of Debian, providing instant access to thousands of free applications.

I can live with Chrome even though Firefox has been my browser of choice. Eager to check this out tonight.  ;D

Also jealous of your 200mbit connection  :P   I'm on a 25mbit connection started it about 5 minutes ago and it says 9 minutes to go. *My ISP has a faster package available, but 25mbps (25/5) is usually plenty. I was getting by with a 7mbps connection less than a year ago but they did away with this and gave me a upgrade to my speed as well as my bill to $69.99 a month from $45 which i was paying prior.

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 04:10:05 PM »
Quote
I can live with Chrome even though Firefox has been my browser of choice. Eager to check this out tonight.
Well, if it is persistent:

Code: [Select]
apt-get install firefox :P

I was trying to dereference Null Pointers before it was cool.

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2017, 05:03:44 PM »
Among the well-supported small Linux packages, Poppy Linux remains my favourite.
The newer versions have a Slack ware influence.

The version tat works good for me is the 5.28 and is still available as an ISO download. It will boot up in the RAM only  mode and will install on hard drive only if you request. The load time is so short that you hardly need it on hard drive anyway. It includes a fair Wi-Fi interface and Linux versions of popular browsers.


Here is the download site for version Puppy 5.2.8.7 Lucid:
http://puppylinux.org/wikka/Puppy528

U believe this version is very stable and I highly recommend it. It can help resolve some issues you might have about your hardware quality.

DaveLembke

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2017, 08:00:34 PM »
Looks like the Pixel doesnt have Flash on it like they stated or its on it but disabled. Looking around for an enable option in chrome for flash but none found. Haven't tried it with persistence yet. Will try that out and see where that gets me. My guess is that persistence will allow flash to be added since it appears to be missing. Also thank you BC in pointing out that Firefox could be added with persistence enabled.

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DaveLembke

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2017, 08:55:35 PM »
Tried Knoppix 7.7.1 to see if Adobe Flash was bundled/enabled and installed on that too and nope.

Funny thing is that Knoppix 7.7.1 DVD reports that it has to be Flash 11.7 or newer and on all other distros it kept saying 11.5  ::)

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Salmon Trout



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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2017, 10:41:47 AM »
Looks like the Pixel doesnt have Flash on it like they stated or its on it but disabled. Looking around for an enable option in chrome for flash but none found. Haven't tried it with persistence yet. Will try that out and see where that gets me. My guess is that persistence will allow flash to be added since it appears to be missing. Also thank you BC in pointing out that Firefox could be added with persistence enabled.
Can you clarify (excuse my ignorance) what you mean by 'flash' exactly? Is it Adobe Flash Player? What do people need it for? How can I tell if I have it and it is working properly?

Thanks.


DaveLembke

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2017, 11:11:37 AM »
Quote
Can you clarify (excuse my ignorance) what you mean by 'flash' exactly? Is it Adobe Flash Player? What do people need it for? How can I tell if I have it and it is working properly?

what you mean by 'flash' exactly? Is it Adobe Flash Player?       YES, Adobe Flash, or some other Flash Player if an open source one exists.

What do people need it for?  Browser based Adobe Flash games like the Forge of Empires that I am trying to run through it. Its also used for websites like youtube, however youtube might work without flash these days through HTML5. I havent tried youtube without flash to see if they have migrated away from it yet. I heard rumor of HTML5 having an ability to do away with Adobe Flash Player. This might only be for videos of youtube and flash based games may still require flash to operate.

How can I tell if I have it and it is working properly?  Years ago Adobes website use to have an ability to click and have it tell you which version of Adobe Flash your running. I have since not been able to find this. Adobe seems to just now offer installation if missing up updates if out of date without informing you as to if its a clean install or an update to an older version.

** Its possible that Pixel has an older than Adobe Flash 11.5 bundled with it, but not sure where to confirm this with Pixel. I havent found any information on what version is bundled when they have the statement of:

Quote
PIXEL represents our best guess as to what the majority of users are looking for in a desktop environment: a clean, modern user interface; a curated suite of productivity software and programming tools, both free and proprietary; and the Chromium web browser with useful plugins, including Adobe Flash, preinstalled. And all of this is built on top of Debian, providing instant access to thousands of free applications.

I was looking this afternoon into altering of a Live Read-Only Linux OS and "Remastering" popped up in my google search. Never remastered a distro before. http://www.tuxradar.com/content/build-your-own-linux-distribution-easy-way

Salmon Trout



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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2017, 12:03:59 PM »
I did a Google and found a web site which claims to list the "Top 10 Best Flash Sites of 2017", here it is: http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/best-flash-sites

This is on my persistent Pixel pen drive, on my Dell laptop. Once I knew I had persistence, I had installed Firefox. I did a Google and people seemed to be using Firefox ESR, which apparently stands for Extended Support Release. In a console you do

Code: [Select]
sudo apt-get install firefox-ESR
In About Firefox it says it is 45.6.0.

I tried Chromium with some of those sites, but whatever is "built-in" doesn't seem to work with me, so I found this https://wiki.debian.org/FlashPlayer which told me to do this:

Code: [Select]
sudo apt-get install flashplugin-nonfree
Now I could get some of those top 10 sites working (in Firefox, stll zilch in Chromium). The #7 "We Chose the Moon", about Apollo 11, seems to work, although a bit jerky over a VNC remote desktop session. Pretty smooth viewed directly on the laptop screen. The #10 Waterlife wouldn't work, neither did it in Firefox on my Windows 10 desktop. #1 Pharrell Williams - Happy just hard crashed Firefox; (perhaps that was a mercy?). #3 Bear 71 works.




« Last Edit: February 10, 2017, 12:14:04 PM by Salmon Trout »

DaveLembke

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2017, 12:22:37 PM »
Thanks for testing at your end to confirm that Pixel seems to have Adobe Flash missing and it didnt work until you added Adobe Flash to it.

Also regarding:

Quote
#1 Pharrell Williams - Happy just crashed Firefox; (perhaps that was a mercy?)

Totally Understand with Perhaps it was a mercy.... There are some songs out there that make me feel like I am going to take speakers that are playing the music like the guitar that John Belushi smashes in the movie Animal House and put an end to it, but I calmly and rather quickly MUTE or shut off the music play. This song is one of them that i'd be glad if never played ever again. In my car I will yell shut up and change the channel if one of these songs comes on and my daughter gets a kick out of it. In case you never seen the Animal House movie, here is this clean and funny clip   ;D  : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqpNQ9AJYgU

Salmon Trout



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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2017, 12:47:39 PM »
There are some songs out there that make me feel like...
That clip is a classic. I hate any kind of hip hop or rap "music" and what (I think) is called R 'n' B, and MOST OF ALL those usually female singers that do a kind of whining thing. Is it because they can't sing properly?

DaveLembke

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2017, 05:26:14 PM »
Not sure what it is but to be stuck in an elevator with it would be the worst.  ;D

DaveLembke

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Re: BrowseLinux for Laptop with no hard drive
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2017, 06:44:38 AM »
Attempted a Remaster of knoppix last night to add Adobe Flash to it and learned a couple things..

#1 - Dont just copy/paste a list of instructions from the web to terminal Window and think you can arrow up to the line to edit the mounted target path. WAS NOT GOOD it ended up running with it as if I hit the enter key right when I dropped it into Terminal Window. This tried to make swap space for Knoppix 7.7.1 onto my 100MB Windows 7 partition instead of the 40GB external drive that I had connected and mounted.  :o ::)

I have never copy/pasted more than a single line to Terminal Window before of Linux and usually I can then edit and hit enter key to run it, but I guess more than 1 line of instruction it takes as an autorun of the script.  Luckily it didnt kill Windows 7 on my SSD on this system. I just needed to go to the 100MB system partition and wipe out the partial of Knoppix where it tried to expand the contents of the 4.6GB ISO and bailed when it reached the 100MB limit of this partition.  :P

As a way to make sure the correct instructions/script is run with the correct target info in the Terminal Window, I ended up using Libre Office Writer to copy/paste the instructions to that. Make changes there, and then copy/paste the edited version with the correct mounted path to /media/sdb1 for the 40GB External vs /media/sda1 which hit my 100MB System Partition on the SSD, so that it wont target sda1 and instead will correctly target sdb1 when pasted to Terminal Window with my specific target info for sdb1 vs sda1.

#2 - I should have used the instructions and scripts with the 7.0.4 version of Knoppix vs 7.7.1 that these remastery instructions were based around, and when it says these instructions are not for DVD Knoppix, go with the statement that its not for DVD instead of trying to make it work for the DVD. *What was strange is while at the start of the instructions it said instructions not for DVD later in the instructions it describes if your using a DVD (greater than 700MB) version of Knoppix to make sure you have 20GB free on the mounted drive that you are going to pass all the expanded contents to. In my case it was /media/sdb1 for the external 40GB HDD.

I got to a point and saw many errors and realized it was not gonna work and shut it down to bring Windows 7 back up and fix the 100MB partition.

Thinking I am going to give this another try tonight, but will use 7.0.4  the CD version of Knoppix which the instructions are proven to work with according to whomever created the instructions. Here is what I went with last night and crashed and almost burned my Windows 7 install with a simple copy/paste to Terminal Window, but got very lucky. http://knoppix.net/wiki3/index.php?title=Knoppix_Remastering_Howto

I am really curious WHY the instructions to expand the contents of a CD ISO would work if these instructions are correct, but a DVD ISO will not. To me the instructions should work for both and ISO image size shouldnt matter, as long as the mounted drive that its expanding to has plenty of space to allow for it to expand and take the changes. But there is something in these instructions that I guess only allows for it to work with a CD image and not a DVD image. Anyone able to look at the script at the link and see if something points out why its only for smaller CD images and not DVD images?

Only thing that stands out to me is the Swap Space getting. I would think that you would want a larger swap space for a DVD image, however your swap space you also for a Live Distro which would mount as a RAM Drive, I would think you would want to just make sure that the Virtual Swap Space just is big enough to run the Live OS, but not too large that it then requires a system with more RAM than necessary to run. For example the laptop i want to run this on has 2GB RAM and so 1GB virtual swap space would leave 1GB of the system RAM for the OS to operate as system RAM. The system I was messing around with this all on last night had 4GB and so the same parameter that works on the 2GB RAM laptop should work on this system with 4GB RAM, but instead have 1GB for the virtual space space and 3GB then for the OS to use. Also comes in the situation where its funny that a Live Distro has Swap Space anyways as a mounted partition as a RAM Drive as for Swap Space is for loading memory to a hard drive or other read/write media to assist with system RAM, but if your having RAM assist itself it just seems odd and I assume its just because its the nature of the fact that the Linux has to run as if it is not in a live environment within a live environment and so the RAM Drive virtual drive swap space is needed to make it operate as if it had a read/write able drive to work with even though the laptop for example has no writable drive in it and only runs from the read-only CD-R or DVD-R