Distro-neutrally creating a liveUSB

This post is dedicated to the memory of the recent death, at a tragically young age, of renown and idealistic Diaspora founder Ilya Zhitomirskiy.
I personally met Ilya just after the Bay Area Linux User’s Group (BALUG) presentation ‘Get to know the FreedomBox project ‘ just within the last half-year.  This presentation’s webpages are the BALUG-Announce’s archived post ‘Tu 2011-06-21: Stefano Maffuli: Get to know the FreedomBox project’ at and Stefano Maffuli’s own ‘Awesome night at BALug presenting FreedomBox’,  IIRC, Ilya himself was asking a great deal of key questions about this relatively new (at the time) technology, during the body of Stefano’s presentation

For those of us who may have ever met or known Ilya — whether here in the San Francisco Bay Area or elsewhere or just through Diaspora — May he Rest In Peace !!!


Distro-neutrally creating a liveUSB.

My goal in this writing this is to find a better way to use practically *any* Linux distribution to create a nice, bootable liveUSB drive.

By *any* Linux distro, I mean
– NO requirement for MS-Windows XP/Vista/7/…etc. (hope that was obvious!)
– NO specific requirement for a Ubuntu-based Linux distribution (very simply, I  DISMISS the presumption made all-too-frequently that Ubuntu or another Ubuntu-based distro is the chief Linux distro that “everybody uses” or that “everyone WILL use”.  I simply think that such a presumption is false.)

As a bold FYI, a  half-dozen popular non-Ubuntu Linux distros include:

ca sera suffi

In general, creating any sort of bootable device requires three overall actions:
A. Partitioning and then Formatting the device.
B. Copying to the device 1) the startup files and 2) various utility and extraneous/productivity files.
C. Extra steps taken to effectively make the device bootable.


Post alert: History digression here.<start_brief_history_lesson>

Going way back to the late 1980’s, you’d create one of those older bootable 3.5″ floppy-disks (and check that floppy too) by using the historic MS-DOS command ‘FORMAT /S /C A:’
In one step, that command string did the formatting step of A, and then for B-C it sufficiently copied the MS-DOS command-interpreter/startup files of COMMAND.COM, IO.SYS, and MSDOS.SYS.

More recently, but still for those older bootable 3.5″ floppy-disks, was Tom’s Root and Boot Linux floppy disk, see
Once the necessary file was downloaded, the file uncompressed, and the uncompressed README-type file’s instructions followed, an install script performed the above steps A through C onto the floppy disk. It should be noted for tomsrtbt that a) the install script used the Linux ‘fdformat’ command for step A, which roughly corresponds with the ‘FORMAT /C’ command for DOS, and b) the floppy was made bootable in step C using the LInux LOader (LILO) boot loader roughly corresponding to MS-DOS’s ‘SYS’ command and its resultant trio of “boot-loading” files previously mentioned in the paragraph above.

Besides the Tom’s Root and Boot Linux floppy disk, there were (and are) other Linux bootdisk creation methods for those older 3.5″ floppies.
These methods perform step B by the process of copying a single pre-created image file (.img) onto a DOS-formatted floppy disk using the Linux ‘dd’ or ‘cat’ command-line commands.  And instead of using LILO, many if not most of these methods now use GRUB (GRand Unified Boot loader) for step C.
A pair of current examples of such GRUB-based boot-floppy creators are
– The All In One Boot Floppy, website
– Super Grub2 Disk, website

====> And as another FYI most appropriate here in this mention of the Linux command-line, Grant Bowman has a key post at this very site entitled ‘Learning the Command Line’,  A nice collection of ‘Learning the Command Line’ links is in his very own ; very immediately applicable to top-level steps A through C.

In any case, bootable CD’s have been called “liveCDs” for awhile now, and they have an order of magnitude more utility files and productivity applications than on floppy disks.

Instead of any necessity to carry out steps A and C to create bootable liveCDs, these steps are ALREADY carried out when downloaded as .iso image files (the ISO-9660 format).
The only remaining step to carry out for creating bootable liveCDs is step B in the process of “burning” the filename.iso image file and the file-contents contained within, onto a blank CD.
Common CD-burning applications using Linux’s X11 graphical user interface are Brasero, K3b, Xfburn, and X-CD-Roast. The commands ‘wodim’, a.k.a. ‘cdrecord’, serve to burn an .iso image onto a blank CD from the Linux command-line.
The tutorial at primarily covers in much further detail, how to use both X-CD-Roast and ‘cdrecord’.

Enough of the history digression; now back to creating liveUSBs. </end_brief_history_lesson>


To rehash this again, creating any sort of bootable device requires three overall actions:
A. Partitioning and then Formatting the device.
B. Copying to the device 1) the startup files and 2) various utility and productivity files/apps.
C. Extra steps taken to effectively make the device bootable.


A. .. Partitioning.
Almost every USB pendrive of 1 GB capacity or higher comes partitioned and formatted for use in Windows, meaning that by factory default, it comes in FAT32 format, a.k.a., “vfat” in Linux terminology.  One of the key Linux utilities to 1st check USB pendrive partitioning is ‘fdisk’ (yes, I know others also suggest ‘cfdisk’ or ‘parted’… they’re both excellent and may even be BETTER than ‘fdisk’!)  Among other  decent references around for using ‘fdisk’ are the Geek Stuff’s ‘7 Linux fdisk Command Examples to Manage Hard Disk Partition’ at and the Linux Documentation Project’s ‘USB Flash Memory HOWTO’ (it’s for pendrives) at .

To tell which device Linux calls the USB pendrive, you would run ‘fdisk -l’ from the command-line. The entire pendrive would then be  displayed near the bottom of the output as /dev/sdX with the X here typically written as “c”, “d”, “e”, or “f” depending upon what other storage devices you concurrently have connected.

A source of confusion is which “partition identifier” is the best one to use for pendrives. Two good but fairly brief references on partition identifiers are the SystemRescueCD’s ‘Sysresccd-Partitioning-EN-Partitions-attributes’ at   and the Linux Documentation Project’s ‘Partitions-Mass-Storage-Definitions-Naming-HOWTO — Partition Types’ at .
The FAT32 partition identifiers “b” and “c” (“0B” and “0C” respectively for ‘cfdisk’) are easily the most appropriate to use for people who have USB pendrives of 1 GB or 2 GB capacity, and who SOLELY want to use these pendrives to boot up a single liveUSB with little to NO need for any extra file-storage space. I have used both identifiers without mishap when partitioning liveUSB pendrives.

An extra step to carry out at this partitioning-stage is to designate the first USB-pendrive partition as the active bootable partition.  Within ‘fdisk’, you’d use the ‘a’ selection for this, and the bootable partition is then designated by an asterix under the “Boot” column.  Within ‘cfdisk’, you’d use the bottom ‘[ Bootable ]’ selection for this, and the bootable partition is then designated by the “Boot” label under the “Flags” column.

A. .. Formatting.
Once USB pendrives are properly partitioned with either of the above FAT32 partition identifiers, they then must be effectively formatted.
The Linux command-line command for this is normally ‘mkdosfs’ , a.k.a. ‘mkfs.vfat’, and the command string most comparable to the old DOS ‘FDISK /C A:’ for this task would probably be ‘mkdosfs -F 32 -cv /dev/sdX1’ where that X is going to be the device letter of the USB pendrive;the X typically substituted with the appropriate “c”, “d”, “e”, or “f”.  Section 6.6 of the above ‘USB Flash Memory HOWTO’  reference also mentions ‘mkdosfs’ here.  Specifically UNlike the DOS ‘FDISK’ command, however, ‘mkdosfs’ CANNOT create boot-able file systems; a bootable liveUSB must be created through additional methods as described below for steps B and C.
The next mini-step to carry out following successfull USB-pendrive formatting is to make the drive available for copying files to it through the Linux command-line command ‘mount’.  As the Linux Documentation Project’s ‘Linux Filesystem Hierarchy’ webpage describes it; “Mounting is the process by which you make a filesystem available to the system. After mounting your files will be accessible under the mount-point.”  Oftentimes, if you just type ‘mount’ at the command-line, the output shows that the USB pendrive’s mount-point is something like /media/disk, /media/disk-1, or /mnt/sdX1 (again, X here is likely going to be one of the lower-case letters “c”, “d”, “e”, or “f”) and thus the USB pendrive is ALREADY automatically mounted and accessible for copying files to it. If such  “automounting” is not the case, then you’d have to manually use the command-line ‘mount’ command in a string such as ‘mount -t vfat /dev/sdX1 /mnt/sdX1’ (note that Section 7.4 of the above ‘USB Flash Memory HOWTO’ reference uses an alternative mount-point name /mnt/memstick instead of the /mnt/sdX1 in this particular command string)


B. Copying to the device 1) the startup files and 2) various utility and productivity files/apps.

Okay, let’s say that you have now successfully partitioned, formatted, and mounted for use your USB-pendrive.
There are currently a few non-Windows and non-Ubuntu options to use for copying files to the pendrive.

One excellent option is to use UNetbootin. The UNetbootin website is and this Linux method of creating a liveUSB works quite effectively for a wide number of popular and even less-popular Linux distributions.  It should be noted that UNetbootin not only copies the startup files and various utility/extraneous files to the mounted USB-pendrive, but it also carries out most of step C through its use of the SYSLINUX boot-loader and its (syslinux’s) startup/configuration files. For those who are interested, there is a good webpage entitled ‘How UNetbootin Works’ at which attempts to explain what UNetbootin really does.
I happen to think that UNetbootin for Linux is far and away the BEST and easiest-to-use non-Windows and non-Ubuntu method of creating a liveUSB.

Another option is to use the LiveUSB Install USB Creator tool created by Krasimir S. Stefanov, website at
Have not used LiveUSB Install myself, but this is probably fine for creating a liveUSB.

There are by now other good automatic and distro-independent liveUSB creation options BESIDES UNetBootin and LiveUSB Install. Maybe there are some much better bash, perl, or Python scripts/apps aroundfor ALL current Linux distros??

The second major option — other than using any of these automated methods — is to use a decidedly MANUAL method of copying to that previously mounted USB pendrive both 1) the startup files and 2) a varied mixture of utility and productivity files/apps.  Although this manual option is without a doubt HIGHLY complex, its advantage is in offering somewhat more flexibility and fine-tuning.
DIY’ers, are any of you seeing this??!!

Almost invariably, the manual option will require that you download and use the SYSLINUX commands and files, currently available through the webpage . To obtain the full and latest SYSLINUX commands and files at the time of this writing, you would download from this site either syslinux-4.04.tar.bz2 or syslinux-4.04.tar.gz to your current working directory, and then run respectively either ‘tar -xjvf syslinux-4.04.tar.bz2’ or ‘tar -xzvf syslinux-4.04.tar.gz’.
When you have carried out either of these last two steps from the Linux command-line, you will have a subdirectory in your current working directory appropriately called “syslinux-4.04” in which to navigate as needed.

Now with your mounted USB-pendrive, you will have to discover the location of your downloaded Linux distro that you wish to make a liveUSB out of.

Sometimes, a few Linux distro creators nicely make available an archived and compressed “.tar.gz” file, a.k.a. a “.tgz” file as  a liveUSB form of their distro. This filename.tar.gz (or filename.tgz) is then downloaded and copied-over to the mounted USB pendrive .  The process of carrying this out is fairly simple: Download the archived and compressed file (ending in .tar.gz or .tgz) to your current working directory, do a straight copying of this file via the command-line ‘cp’ command to the mounted USB pendrive, and then uncompress this file at the very topmost part (the “root” directory) of the drive. The latter two steps are probably going to be something very similar to ‘cp -v ./filename.tgz /mnt/sdX1’ where ./ is your current working directory and then ‘tar -xzvf /mnt/sdX1/filename.tgz’.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of Linux distros are primarily available as the downloable .iso image files (the ISO-9660 format) that I wrote about way above for CDs, e.g., the fairly nice and small 30 MB slitaz-3.0.iso for SliTaz Linux. (And btw, this SliTaz Linux happens to have its own particular  automatic liveUSB-creating utility ‘TazUSB’ ; further info at )  In any case, the extra and likely CUMBERSOME(!) tasks involved with manually copying over the necessary files from the .iso image to the USB pendrive are the following:
..1. Loop-mounting the .iso image
..2. Copying the loop-mounted file-contents of the image onto the USB pendrive
..3. Optional: Editing the configuration file(s) now on the USB pendrive.

You’d first log in as the superuser, a.k.a., user “root” (yes, it’s a bit of a PITA!)  UNetbootin and distro-native liveUSB-creating utilities such as the ‘TazUSB’ one I just mentioned above make the first two parts of this process VASTLY simpler!!

The manual copying tasks.
..1. Loop-mounting the .iso image.
Most of this step is described in such references as’s  ‘’ webpage at and Example 17-7 of the Linux Documentation Project’s ‘Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide: System and Administrative Commands’ webpage at
You’d then create a loop mount-point such as /media/iso or /mnt/iso via the ‘mkdir’ command-line command, i.e., ‘mkdir /media/iso’ or ‘mkdir /mnt/iso’
Navigate to the directory where your downloaded filename.iso distro image is located.
Loop-mount the .iso image by issuing the appropriate and longer ‘mount’ command string ‘mount -rt iso9660 filename.iso -o loop /media/iso’ or alternatively ‘mount -rt iso9660 filename.iso -o loop /mnt/iso’

..2. Copying the loop-mounted file-contents of the image onto the USB pendrive.
You’d navigate to the loop mount-point /media/iso (or /mnt/iso).
You’d then copy the entire contents (*) of this directory to the mounted USB pendrive, for example, using the command string ‘cp -v /media/iso/* /mnt/sdX1’ or alternatively  ‘cp -v /mnt/iso/* /mnt/sdX1’
The copying process could take a long while. When it appears that the copying has finally finished, you’d issue the command ‘sync’ to synchronize copying completion.
You’d then navigate back to a previous working directory OTHER THAN the loop-mounted directory /media/iso (or /mnt/iso) and then attempt to disassociate the .iso image’s temporary loop mount-point by running ‘umount /media/iso’ or alternatively ‘umount /mnt/iso’.

Now did I already mention that these steps are HIGHLY complex or what?!

..3. Optional: Editing the configuration file(s) now on the USB pendrive.
Most of the time, this simply involves checking and MAYBE editing such USB pendrive startup configuration files as isolinux.cfg in the /mnt/sdX1/boot/isolinux directory and/or grub.lst in the /mnt/sdX1/boot/grub directory.
I’ve found on extremely rare occasions that one or more of the following SYSLINUX files have had to be copied from the syslinux-4.04 directory created above to the appropriate directory of the mounted USB pendrive:
– syslinux-4.04/com32/menu/menu.c32
– syslinux-4.04/com32/menu/vesamenu.c32
– syslinux-4.04/com32/modules/chain.c32
– syslinux-4.04/com32/modules/cmd.c32
– syslinux-4.04/com32/modules/reboot.c32


C. Extra steps taken to effectively make the device bootable.

UNetbootin seems to handle liveUSB boot-activation quite well, and I’m certain that LiveUSB Install and other automated USB creation tools performs similarly. There is a caveat to this that I’ll note below, see note #1.

The first thing you’d have to do to MANUALLY activate liveUSB device booting, before carrying out any other steps here, is to unmount the USB pendrive’s mount-point used in Step B . This would be carried out while still logged on as the superuser / “root”-user by running the command-line command string ‘umount /mnt/sdX1’ or alternatively ‘umount /media/sdX1’

The next step is to navigate to the appropriate SYSLINUX directory (I navigate to the subdirectory syslinux-4.04/linux) and to then run ‘syslinux -s /dev/sdX1’ That alone “should” make the USB pendrive bootable.

If the USB pendrive is STILL not bootable, then a brute-force option to carry out here is to navigate to the syslinux-4.04/mbr subdirectory and to then run the command-string ‘cat mbr.bin > /dev/sdX’ without the ending “1”.

Note #1: I had to run ‘install-mbr -p1 /dev/sdX1’ after completing UNetbootin in order to effectively fix my USB pendrive’s Master Boot Record (MBR), and to then successfully boot the pendrive.
This particular command-line ‘install-mbr’ command happened to be available in the non-Ubuntu Linux distro I was using to create the liveUSB pendrive.  The command string ‘install-mbr -p1’ works by re-writing a MBR to the pendrive and then activating the pendrive’s first partition — through the “-p1” option — as the bootable one.

Following the use of ‘cat mbr.bin > /dev/sdX’ or ‘install-mbr -p1 /dev/sdX1’, you might have to re-run the prior command string ‘syslinux -s /dev/sdX1’ to ensure that the pendrive device can now successfully act as a bootable liveUSB.  Once you have completed all three of the above steps A thru C, then the best proof that you have successfully created a liveUSB on your pendrive is to actually use your pendrive to boot-up your computer.

A key note: You should definitely reboot your computer at this point in the creation of a liveUSB and check your BIOS settings to make certain that your boot-order has something like a “USB” or “Removable drive” boot option placed at the very top of the boot-order list. Among other good references for figuring out how to carry out this last step is the webpage ‘How To Boot From a USB Device’ at

The SystemRescueCD liveCD project has a useful manual webpage in English entitled ‘How to install SystemRescueCd on an USB-stick’,
I found that some of the non-SystemRescueCD-specific information near the bottom of this SystemRescueCD page is helpful, but I also think that webpages OTHER than this and OTHER than the many Ubuntu-specific ones are just as helpful in successfully creating a bootable liveUSB without the specific requirement to use MS-Windows or to use a Ubuntu-based Linux distro.


I think it is appropriate to remind readers again here near the bottom of this post, what I wrote near the top. A nice collection of ‘Learning the Command Line’ links is renown BerkeleyLUG contributor’s own webpage ; very applicable to steps A through C that I’ve already spent most of the body of this post writing about.

Of course any of you reading this are perfectly welcome to provide below, your newly-revised and hopefully BETTER suggestions for distro-neutrally creating bootable liveUSBs 🙂


Pyrus Mini Multimedia Player

Quoting Grant B:

Zeke brought this for show and tell today. It looks like a great deal at $49.99 & free shipping.

Thanks for your post Grant; it is an excellent deal for a budget handheld multimedia player, IMO. The shipping is free, only if you meet certain conditions, which I don’t. However, shipping fee for ground delivery is trivial, and the item was delivered just two days after my order!

He said for twice the price he couldn’t find anything with this screen size and features.

The brand name is Pyrus, and they do have various versions, but with a smaller screen. For example, if you also want the camera feature (or more storage space), the screen is only 2.8″. I looked at other brands in the below-$70 range, and did not find any screens larger than 3″ with such an excellent customer rating as this one (4.5 out of 5 stars average from 12 reviews).

If you find the files aren’t being recognized, he reformatted his SD card as fat32

One of the nice features with this player, is you can view the files w/o any proprietary application…any old file manager will suffice. That, plus the FAT32 format, makes it 100% Linux compatible. So you can simply click and drag your files over to the Pyrus player. Just remember to clear the trash folder promptly after removing older files, or your 4G drive will quickly fill up!

I think my Pyrus files got screwed up, due to Windoze Vista’s notorious mishandling of SDHC cards. (I was checking out this device in both Ubuntu and Vista.)

Suddenly on day 2, I couldn’t delete the files in trash, in fact I couldn’t even see the trash folder, though I had Nautilus (and Explorer) set to view hidden files. This corruption is common in flash chips, and the solution is almost always, to simply reformat the drive in question. However, I was hesitant, not knowing if Pyrus used any part of this partition for the OS.

(Let me take a moment now, to thank Charles and Michael at our last BUUG meeting, for their guidance in solving this problem…without their aid, it would’ve taken me much longer to discover the solution.)

After hemming and hawing, I concluded the logical likelihood that Pyrus’ OS was on a separate chip altogether…otherwise, there would be too many complaints and returned devices for the company’s own good. So I took the plunge and boldly reformatted the storage chip. To my happiness, all was copasetic, and I could transfer whatever files I wanted, once more.

For the technically curious: I did view the SD chip with gparted, and found no additional partitioning of that drive. But I did wonder if perhaps there was some proprietary setting that hid any possible extra partition, on which resided the OS, or part thereof.

Also, when I view device information (via gparted), model type is “emerson mp3”. This may prove useful for any hacking ventures.

with gparted but it worked great after that. It charges with the USB port but one minor limitation is you can’t use it while it’s charging.

The device does come with a USB cord, identical to the kind that come with most digital cameras. Rather than leave a computer turned on, in order to recharge my Pyrus overnight, I use a USB hub that comes with its own AC power supply…very convenient for all USB-rechargeable devices.

This player’s rechargeable battery provides approximately 3.5 hours of use before it poops out. A full recharge seems to take an hour or so…though I haven’t really paid close attention in this particular matter, yet. Seeing as I’m in the habit of just plugging it in to my netbook when I’m online at a coffeehouse…or just plug it in at night while I’m playing with my (desktop-replacement) laptop, or sleeping.

It seems to recognize more video formats than many of it’s competitors.

Pyrus boasts that it handles .mp4 and .wmv, along with all the other usual formats. For audio, it does run .ogg right along with .mp3…a plus in any Linux user’s book! Another plus, is that Pyrus automatically sorts all .mp3 files by category…based on any info embedded within these files. So you can view your audios by artist, album, genre, and so on.

All files are dumped in the root folder…except for any recordings you make, which are placed in a folder called “record”. Apparantly, Pyrus identifies format types by extensions, such as .txt, .avi and .mp3. The touch screen’s home menu is very attractive and uncluttered. Click on an icon such as “video” or “music” or “ebooks”, and only the files w/the appropriate extension will show up. There is also a file manager (“explorer”) that allows you to scroll through your entire list of files.

The videos display in excellent clarity, crisp and colorful…though you can’t view them at all in direct sunlight. The ebook feature is really text only…but that’s fine by me, as you can easily convert any ebook format into text with “calibre“, a Linux application available via the package manager. Recordings are somewhat low quality and only saved in .wav format, which is a real space hog. But it’s handy for recording quick reminders and shopping lists. The Pyrus also provides FM radio, also recordable (though not practical, due to the hoggy .wav format).

It also handles images: .jpg, .bmp and .gif only. This includes animated .gif’s, if that’s your cup of tea. You can rotate pictures, and zoom in or out…though this only works for .jpg’s and .bmp’s. (Pyrus claims only to support those two image formats, BTW. Also, for whatever reason it can’t handle “.jpeg” even though it’s identical in format to “.jpg”. You can just rename the extension before copying to the player.)

There is also a “game” section, where you can play either “snake” or “slide”…neither of which is worth your time: they’re poorly presented, at best. No way to add any additional games. But I didn’t choose a handheld player for games…or for any other features except video and audio, both of which are superb. The attractive bonus for me, is the “ebook” option.

You can bookmark your text files, and resize the font in three modes (small, medium, large). Also, you can play an mp3 music file in the background, while reading an ebook. But you can’t do same w/the radio.

Pyrus also has a simple “settings” section, where you can control the lighting, shutdown time, and even language (English, German, and the four major Romance languages). The player comes with a stylus, though no way to latch it onto the device. But I prefer to use my index finger, which works just fine. Also comes with a drawstring pouch, a useless manual, and equally useless mini-CD.

I originally sought an mp3 player, in order to listen to original progressive talk shows from around the country (in podcast form), and audio books. But when I began looking around for a good device at a bargain, I was impressed with some of the video options now so popular. Much more convenient to play a video from my handheld, than from a laptop, even my netbook, when riding public transit. The crisp 3.5″ screen is easy on the eyes.

I do not pay for any podcast subscription, as there are many free podcasts out there, both for music and for talk. If you really want bleeding edge songs and compositions, this is the way to go…as even the fee-based subscriptions are mostly mainstream these days. I use two different podcast aggregators, which provide a wide variety of subject matter from which to choose. They are “Miro” and “Gpodder“…both applications download your subscribed channels, that you may listen (or view) directly from your drive w/o the Internet.

Both applications can be installed via Ubuntu’s package manager, BTW. Miro specializes in video podcasts, but now includes an ever-growing list of audio channels. Gpodder has mostly audio, but is now adding video podcasts to its service. All podcasts provided are 100% free and legal…so no worries.

I’m also subscribed to a podcast web site, “Podcast Alley,” for additional shows that may not be listed in those two applications:

You can add any podcast channel from Podcast Alley, to your podcast aggregator of choice, via the channel’s RSS feed. Or, you can simply download their shows directly to disk. Whatever podcasts I want to listen to (or watch) via my Pyrus handheld, I simply copy to its 4G flash drive…or in the case of Gpodder, “export” them over.

Four gigabytes is more than enough to include a few full-length movies and/or TV shows…in addition to short videos, mp3 sound tracks, and ebooks. Anything I want to save in a permanent collection, is stored on my home computer. That way, I can freely delete shows/files I’ve already played from my Pyrus, and add new ones. For someone who doesn’t want a fee-based mini-media player, or a pricey phone service to go with it…yet would enjoy watching videos and listening to audio podcasts for a really great price, you can’t beat the Pyrus multimedia player. It’s all touch-screen based (except for a little button for image rotating/resizing), and solidly built with brushed-steel frame and back. A real delight for its purpose!
If anyone has hacked one, let us know.

I’m sure it would be a fun jailbreak, thanks to its basic design and low price. The 4G storage chip is sealed inside (not removable by normal means). The page for the Pyrus does show a flash card as something that is “Frequently Bought Together”…which is needlessly deceptive. Gives the impression that the Pyrus has an SD card slot, when in fact, it certainly does not. Almost definitely, this device runs on some variation of Linux. I mean, what else could the OS be…Windoze 7? NOT!  😀

Zeke Krahlin

OS Choices

Thanks to Bob Lewis of the Felton LUG mail list for the link to “Battle of the OS Titans” on written by John Dragoon, Novell‘s chief marketing officer.  Novell is the sponsor of community-supported openSUSE.  I think the article gives a nice summary, emphasizing that the dominance of Microsoft has loosened compared to a few years ago.

The Operating System release calendar this month is amazing: Microsoft Windows 7 general retail availability was October 22nd, Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala releases Thursday, October 29th, openSUSE 11.2 Fitche releases Thursday, November 12 and Fedora 12 Constantine is released Tuesday, Nov 17th.  Apple beat everyone to a release by about a month: Apple’s OS X 10.6.1 was Sept 10th after the late August Snow Leopard release.

One point I would have liked to see John emphasize more is the impact of Google’s Chrome OS entry.  This isn’t just any old Linux distribution.  Google has significant mind share in the public at large and I am looking forward to seeing how the Linux and mainstream computing landscapes shift with it’s availability in the second half of 2010.

The telephone targeted Android was a good warm up.  I use it daily on my phone.  Yet the netbook & desktop targeted Chrome OS has some tricks (like a new security architecture) that should prove interesting.  Mike Belshe has blogged about the Chrome browser development story giving some more background on this.  I believe Google has achieved improved security, speed, and stability with their browser and I am looking forward to seeing how this approach translates into their Chrome OS (Linux) distribution next year.

For now I’m getting ready to celebrate the new releases.