This is portable Linux distribution that boots from a USB stick, that has wireless support, and is battery powered. The ultimate in portable Linux.

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The goal of this project was to run linux and wireless support for linux from one common compact device. I ride my bike to the library regularly to use their wireless connection. My initial thought was to carry my laptop there in a back pack. By the time I loaded it up it was way too heavy for a long ride. I also got tired of lugging it back and forth to the office. The solution was discovering linux on a usb stick. There some advantages to this system.
-You only need one USB port to run it (great for older laptops)
-It leaves no trace on the computer when you are done (the whole file system is built in RAM)
-You have all of your applications, desktop, and data no matter where you go.
-Will read NTFS file system but, will not write making it safe to use on any machine (you can make it write NTFS with some additional software).
-Easy to update software.
-Ability to boot USB stick with a motherboard that doesn’t support that. Cool.

What you’ll need:

1 USB hub with external power supply (think old and cheap, better chance it will work with linux)
1 thumb drive (at least 512 mb I would suggest a gig)
1 USB wifi adaptor ( linux compatible check the forums here
1 4 AA battery pack with on off switch (Radio Shack)
1 ISO of Slax linux (I prefer the Kill Bill version)
1 copy of Myslax creator
Case parts I used two pieces of plexiglass with standoffs from home depot


Burn the ISO

Burn the Slax ISO to a CD (I suggest you use Deepburner to burn the ISO, its freeware).
-Make sure you burn the disc as an ISO image don’t try to unpack it then burn it.
-Test your burn by putting your new disc in the computer and reboot but, make sure your BIOS is looking to boot from the CD drive first. It should boot up to Slax read on the on screen documentation to boot to a GUI desktop.
-Notice that when the boot first starts it advises press F1 for more options, remember that we will need that later.
-Hang on to this disk we’ll need it later.

Installing Myslax creator on your windows computer

-Follow the onscreen prompts all the way to create a bootable USB stick.
-You’ll be asked to add modules but, we’ll handle that later.
-For now the only setting that I would change is that you will have the opportunity to select a new desktop. Everything else leave default.

Booting the USB stick

- If your computer supports booting from a USB stick you’re done with the software portion. Just make sure your BIOS is set in the correct order to look for the stick first.
-If it doesn’t then plug a your USB stick in and put your CD in. Reboot. When it advises to press F1 for more options do it. (told you to remember that)
-This will bring up a cheat code screen. Just Type: slax nocd then press enter. This advises Slax to go out and look for the boot files elsewhere on the system it will find your USB stick and boot.

Adding software

-On the Slax home page located here . You will find a modules download link.
-Pick a couple to download.
-While in linux or in windows browse your USB stick you will find a folder called modules.
-Just drop your newly down loaded modules in there. Slax will find them when it boots. EASY.
-I suggest that you read and direct software questions to the forum on this site as they have excellent support.

Wireless support

- If you know anything about linux you know that it is less than friendly when it comes to drivers.
-There is no one way to get wireless cards to work. There are so many it is beyond the scope of the this project to explain them all.
-Search the forums on the Slax page for your card, someone will advise you if it isn’t already a topic.


-Open the case on the USB and wire the leads from the battery holder to the power input on the USB hub.
-Glue your items into place on the plexiglass.


You could lay this out to support card readers or any other USB device but, I kept this simple.


The voltage supplied by the battery pack is enough to run the USB wireless card and an external USB hard drive. This is my first instructable so let me know what you think.

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    353 Discussions


    3 years ago

    What board did you use? I am interested in running porteus on a machine like this but with a added display and rechargeable battery pack.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I don't get it what is the purpose of this project? Is it a small computer? I mean what's a linux distribution?

    6 replies

    A Linux Dirstribution is a version of Linux. Sort of like how Microsoft developed different versions of Windows or Mac with OSX. However, most Linux distributions are independent of each other, and you choose whichever one suits your needs the best.
    What this project does is not only allow you to boot up a Linux Distribution on any computer you want, but it includes a WiFi adapter so that you can get wireless support if the computer that you are on has hardware that your Linux distro doesn't have the drivers to support.

    ***By the way, I am still new to Linux. Anybody please feel free to correct me if I am wrong***


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I still don't get what is these all devices for? It makes no sense, You still need a computer to run the linux in your USB stick, so why not have it installed already in your computer, if you like windows then make a dual boot option.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    this allows you to take you personalized OS and files with you anywhere. It is like carrying a computer without the weight


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Because what he wants to do here is be able to boot from a computer at his local library, which probably already has windows on it and he wants to be able to use something with his own settings and software without having to take his laptop.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    You could use something like this to diagnose and repair infected or corrupted PCs or to just be able to have YOUR system where ever you are.

    A Linux Distribution is a Linux Operating System. Ubuntu, MoonOS, Chromium OS, SUSE, Debian, Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux, even Android are a few examples.

    This is now moot. Get a Raspberry Pi for 35, and cut out most of the steps. All it needs is a tiny screen, a keyboard, mouse combo, battery adapter, and a wifi card.


    when Plugged into a computer, it will boot up in linux, not Windows/Mac. The Wifi is so that it has built in wifi so it can connect to the internet. The power supply is to run the Wifi and the USB, but this Whole project will only work if the computer is capable of booting through USB, if not use PLoP, or something other. (I heard GRUB works well)


    Reply 6 years ago on Step 2

    so wouldn't it be easier to make the bootable USB and plug it straight into the computer?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     You can use any linux distro.  Personally I like to use Slax or Puppy due to the fact that you can copy the entire OS into the RAM and it will run very, very fast.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Check the Ubuntu and SUSE websites! Search for "Installing live to usb" and you should get instructions to install that particular distro to a usb stick.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Checkout the date that comment was posted! Since then I've learned how to install any Linux distro manually on a usb drive, using syslinux...