SLAX. Linux on a USB flash drive.

As things have turned out this happens to be the first post for this year. Though I wanted to blog a lot, ma work doesn’t seem to be giving me any room to do so. Anyway, Since of late I really wanted to try out a Linux Distro either in an emulated mode or to have it on a USB drive.

First I tried to run it in an emulated mode by following some of the tutorials given on PenDrive Linux. But after a series of failure I decided to change to ma second option. When it comes to Portable distributions two famous one’s that came to ma mind were Puppy Linux and SLAX. And they both have KDE.

After considering some of the capabilities/features of both Puppy Linux and SLAX, I decided to stick with SLAX because it could offer me most of the software that I was looking for and moreover, you don’t need to install any extra plug-ins to get your MP3’s and other commonly used video formats (specially avi) working. This is something I would really like to have on other distros like Ubuntu and which I unfortunately, don’t find on them due to certain restrictions (I think it’s better for me to stay out of this coz then I will be getting into patent and copyright laws and put ma self in a spot of bother).

You can find more about SLAX on, And since, I’m using a hp pavilion dv2000 which has Windows Vista installed on it, this post should ideally suite vista users because it’s bit different than setting up your boot stick from being on other (older) versions of windows. But actually, creating it on older versions of windows seems to be lot easier than on Vista.

But to start with I should admit that there are some pre-requisites to ensure you can boot into SLAX using a pen drive. Because not all the PCs and Laptops supports booting from a USB drive. below I list few pre-requisites.

  • The PC or Laptop that you are using should support booting from a USB drive.
  • A pen drive with a minimum of 256 MB free space.

Moving on with the configurations,

  1. download SLAX usb edition (you will be downloading tar ball)
  2. download 7-Zip. (to extract the contents of the tar ball)
  3. extract the contents of the tar archive to the root of the pen drive.(boot and slax)
  4. download and extract it to your local file system
  5. copy the contents of syslinux-3.7.2/win32 folder to boot/syslinux on the pen drive.
  6. Now click on your windows start menu, type ‘command’ on the search box of the start menu.
  7. Once you are shown command prompt in the start menu right click and select run as administrator.
  8. Move the prompt to your USB drive by typing “driveLetter:” and enter.
  9. Type cd boot and press enter (in order to go to the boot dirctory in the usb drive).
  10. Type bootinst.bat to overwrite the MBR on your usb drive.

That’s it, we are done with the configurations. Now you can reboot your machine enter bios settings and then make USB drive as your first boot device in the boot sequence list. Now you should be logging into SLAX.!! below I attach a screenshot of slax while I was listening to some great tunes of A.R. Rahman.

a screenshot of slax

One of the coolest things about SLAX is that it not only shows other file systems but it also allows you to write to those which really makes life lot easier. Since SLAX is module based and modules get installed on-the-fly you never need to login and install anything. All what you need to do is just download your preferred module and copy to slax and next time you boot into slax, you should be able to use your new app, easy as that.

I really enjoy ma time on slax and I hope you will consider SLAX next time when you wanna go portable as well. Cheers!.