There are a lot of linux live CD’s out there. Some like Knoppix have been around forever while others on the list like Parrot Security are relative new comers. But all of the distro’s on this list are certainly the creme of the crop. I have made my list based categories, i.e. security, data recovery, multimedia editing, jack of all trades, etc…
Knoppix was one of the first Linux live CDs that was available. It is debian based and has somewhere around 2,000 programs packed into the live image which now must be burned to a DVD because its about 4GB in size. You can download the latest version here.
2) Parrot Security OS
When it comes to a security live CD Parrot Security OS is the clear choice. While they are built on top of the kali repositories they have put a lot more effort into a comprehensive solution. I really like how they give you the option to pipe all traffic through the Tor network. You can download the latest version (Asphalt Dragon) here (32 bit) (64 bit).
3) AV Linux
I am a huge fan of AV Linux. AV Linux is a Debian-based 32 bit distribution featuring a large collection of audio and video production software. It works great on most hardware. I have used it for quite some time on an older workstation at home to do my video editing. You can get it via torrent here or download the iso here.
4) SliTaz GNU/Linux
When it comes to small yet functional its hard to get much smaller than SliTaz. You can download the image here. The cooking version is only 42MB.
When you just want to clone a drive or partition nothing beats clonezilla. The current version is about 42MB and boots up about as quickly as it downloads. For down and dirty simple drive or partition replication you just cant beat it. You can download it here.
Other honorable mentions.
PCLinuxOS was originally forked from Mandriva. PCLinuxOS is a user-friendly Linux distribution that has support for most hardware. It just works. Its easy and clean. You can get it with the KDE, LXDE, Mate or FullMonty desktop manager. You can download it here.
And since the list is replete with debian distro’s I thought I would throw in another non debian distro. Gentoo is for Linux what FreeBSD is to UNIX. It’s a great system and it is what you make of it. The Portage system is a true ports system in the tradition of BSD ports, but is Python-based and sports a number of advanced features including dependencies, fine-grained package management, “fake” (OpenBSD-style) installs, safe unmerging, system profiles, virtual packages, config file management, and more. Give it a try. My one caveat “This is not a system for noobs”. You can download the latest here.
Mageia is a fork of Mandriva Linux formed in September 2010 by former employees and contributors to the popular French Linux distribution. Unlike Mandriva, which is a commercial entity, the Mageia project is a community project and a non-profit organisation whose goal is to develop a free Linux-based operating system. I added them to the list to give a different flavor. This is not your run of the mill linux distro it is however a distro that could benefit from more publicity. You can download it here. Give it a try and let me know what you think of it.
So this is my list, yours may be differet. Have a different take on it? Put your suggestions in the comments section below.
- Knoppix live CD
- one of my favorite HIIT workouts