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Linux Emulator On A Flash Drive

Hello everyone, and I hope we can work on this project together and create something great that may benefit students everywhere If a current working project of this is availible, I would appreciate any information on it.

The Problem:
Working in labs and with beginner-linux classes, I noticed a problem. New students need access to a Linux environment to do their work on, but many are not technically savvy enough (or willing/able) to format/partition their home drives. Also, while Live CDs are great, computers in the school labs will not allow them to boot from them. Furthermore, the school Redhat server only allows students to connect to it from within the labs themselves.

Essentially, students found actually accessing linux for their classes was very hard.

A Solution:
I had an idea for simply running Cygwin, which works great BUT: while students now have a basic Linux environment at home, it's different from the ones at school, and it's not portable. So I took it one step farther: put it on a Flash drive. The problem I found with this is that Cygwin requires files it installs on the current OS - making it non-portable.

The end result was MSys ( - a Cygwin fork that's incredibly small (>50MB w/ MinGW addons), and it's self-contained so doesn't require anything on the computer it runs off of. Once installed, you can simply plug the Flash drive into any Windows USB port and you have a Linux environment. You need no permissions on the current computer whatsoever.

The New Problem:
My new dilemma is this: MSys is just what it stands for: a Minimalist System. It lacks functions the courses require (small things: DD, cal, etc) and I lack the know-how to add them.

If successful, the university will start implementing these as soon as next semester. Right now I am working on an internship involving this.

How can I go about adding functions to MSys? So far, the only lacking functionality that I've added is 'clear'.

Missing functions that the course requires include: cal, more, passwd, whatis, join, lpr, paste, pr, tput, afio, cpio, dd, df, du, file, finger, free, edquota, top, w, who, ifconfig, netstat, ping

** There are more functions, but many can be bypassed or are impossible (I think) like fsck can't run as far as I know on an emulator.

Thank you everyone that takes the time to read this! I hope to be successful with this project, as it's already SO close! MSys runs fine and has good functionality - it just needs that extra little push.

Ok, I'm trying to understand your problem a bit better here so please tell me if I am understanding this correctly.

You are trying to put a distribution of linux on a jump drive, such that the jump drive can be plugged into the computer and then the jump drive will load something along the lines of VMware and load the linux inside?

If that is correct I have been using a progrem called QEMU paired up with Damn Small Linux for the longest time. It is a fully functional OS and the two paired up take under 110mb of space so could easily work on a 128mb flash drive and they leave no evidence or files behind on the host computer.

If you would like I have a fully setup DSL 2.2.b system and qemu packaged into a zip file I can upload to let you try.
That's some dilemma you face Shocked

Perhaps you could just use the Mandriva USB things? I'm sure they're functional, as they come on a 2gb flash drive. Although, this may not be what you're looking for.
TheGeek wrote:

If you would like I have a fully setup DSL 2.2.b system and qemu packaged into a zip file I can upload to let you try.

If you could do that, that would be awesome. Also, I have no problems putting it together myself if you can just direct me to which distributions you're using, version, etc.

It makes me wonder, though... what's the point of MSys if this is around? :p
This will be the link once it is finished uploading, I have a slow upload speed here though so it will be ready about about 7PM (EST).

unzip that and then run dsl-windows.bat and a window will open that will contain linux in it. There is a way to change the resolution so you can have it running at the native res and take up a full screen, but I can't remember what file it is to edit...I think it is either syslinux.cfg or you add something to dsl-windows.bat...either way, just run the bat and it will work for you. You can also change the amount of RAM it uses when running, and I think that it is set to 256mb right now by dsl-windows.bat but I could be wrong.

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