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Looking for a fast, portable and affordable operating system?
I was and i found the solution in Slax. Slax is a member of the Linux flavour of operating systems which means it is stable and free. The creators name is Tomas M and he developed a set of scripts that turns your favourite distro into a portable OS that can be loaded onto a portable USB Flash Key, MP3 Player, Camera or even from a hard drive and run directly from it. Toams M created Slax from another Linux derivative called Slackware and the result is a lightning fast system that boots from portable media.
Slackware had always been my distro of choice and while it is probably not for the linux beginner i have found it to be the most stable and customizable flavour of linux around. The birth of Slax meant that i could now carry my OS in my wallet, and use it on any computer by plugging the flash drive in and booting.
IT IS FAST
The option to load Slax into RAM results in a freakishly fast system that has almost all the functionality of a fully fledged Slackware install and twice the speed. Even when Slax is loaded from a flash device or locally from your hard drive it is still very fast and around 30 seconds after pushing the power button you are ready to go.
IT IS PORTABLE
Slax is stored in a squashed format resulting in an LZMA file which decompresses very quickly. While stored it weighs in at under 200Mb making it a lightweight contender with the speed of a cat. This is accomplished by stripping down the full slackware install to a bare minimum which is quite a feat. The downside of this is Slax is missing some functionality (like wireless out of the box) on some systems as not all hardware is recognized. Thankfully though, due to recent inactivity of the author, a community version has sprung forth which is being maintained by a super user called Fanthom who has painstakingly produced a more compatible version that is more widely compatible with a majority of systems. He is currently developing a 64-bit version of Slax which is a great leap forward for the evolution of Slax.
IT IS MODULAR
Another nice feature of Slax is the modular design. Unlike other distros where one has a package manager that connects the internet and downloads a package (program), slax uses modules. These are pre compiled packages that you activate and deactivate. The traditional 'installation' of a program is now redundant as by simply double clicking on a module, causes it to be mounted and injected into the file system ready for use. This happens in a fraction of a second and the application is ready for use. Double click on it again and the module is deactivated and removed from the system. This means that you are only using a program as you need it, and the system is not bogged down with thousands of files that are rarely used. Modules can be activated directly from the slax website, or downloaded and stored somewhere locally for activation as you require it.
SOME BEGINNER TIPS
When you first boot to slax you may be presented with a text prompt from which you are required to login and type 'startx' to get a graphical interface. if this is the case the username/password is root/toor.
Inside the control centre you can arrange for an auto login of your user and you need to edit the slax.cfg file (inside the slax folder) and append init~4 to the autoexec= line in order to auto boot to a GUI.
The Slax Community
The Slax community is a great help to new comers provided you follow the correct ediquette when posting in the forum. Be sure to use the search function before asking basic questions as nobody likes to answer the same old questions over and over again. Especially when the person asking the question hasn't bothered to help themselves by doing a little searching. If you find slax doesn't work nicely on your system, find the thread in the forum by Fanthom called REMIX v8 (32-bit) or REMIX v9 (64-bit) and download the community version which is more up to date and widely compatible.