Man’s Best Friend

Posted: July 8, 2008 in Uncategorized
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…is a Puppy Linux.

I just created a LiveCD for my company with a standard Puppy 3.01 distro (there are technical reasons for not using the new 4.0 distro that I won’t go into unless someone asks) and a VPN client added. Why is this my new best friend? Travelers can boot with this CD and have an absolutely secure connection back to the office without infecting the office network with any malware that may be on their PCs.

The whole OS runs in all of 200MB memory, including the OpenOffice distro, which gives us read/write/edit capability for our Microsoft Office files from the office.  To be fair, the standard 95MB distro includes Word- and Excel-compatible editors already; I added the 105MB OpenOffice distro to enable PowerPoint compatibility for a more “standard” office software environment.  

The standard distro also includes a Remote Desktop Protocol client, which allows us to connect to our WinXP/Vista desktops, and a Virtual Network Computing client, which allows us to connect to our Unix servers and workstations.  I use these tools regularly for telecommuting.

All of this in a neat little Linux package that I can run on just about any x86 PC (or Mac) I’m likely to come across, running entirely in memory, that doesn’t have access to my XP file system (unless I want to mount it, which is easy as pie and gives me read/write access to XP’s NTFS disk — something many tiny Linux distros don’t do), easily connects to wired or wireless networks, and even has IM and email, not just a browser.  Oh, yeah, and I can even watch DVD movies, too, out of the box.

And to make things even sweeter, unlike most Linux LiveCDs, if you boot on a CD burner, you can save your settings and files back to the LiveCD.  Of course, if you’ve managed to hork up the system with malware, you wouldn’t want to save your settings when you shutdown — to be fair, you probably wouldn’t even want to do a normal shutdown, just a power off/on cycle, which then restores your OS to a nice, fresh, non-horked-up state in a matter of about a minute.

What isn’t included in this little 200MB CD (which, BTW, can be put on a flash drive and booted from that if your PC supports it)?  A bunch of games, which you really shouldn’t be running in a work environment, anyway.

If you’re a software professional that travels, think about what I’ve laid out for you here, then consider putting together a CD like I did.  You won’t regret it.  Puppy even includes an easy remastering program in the standard distro, which I used to make my very own company-branded CD, complete with logo’d backdrop and company-specific VPN configuration.  (Ask me how I did it, if you’d like to know.)

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