New to Linux?

First and foremost this post may be kind of long with multiple questions. I hope they are not redundant, if the are or i should break this up to different threads let me know and ill do so.

I recently ordered a new Laptop that is coming with Windows 8 but I have been a mac fan for some years now since using them at work. Though I have become very interested in Linux and would like to dual boot it on my laptop when it comes in. I'm thinking Linux Mint at the moment seems to be getting good reviews especially for beginners, but I'm open to suggestions. Eventually as i get more familiar with Linux I would like to discard windows.

Though I plan on using Linux Mint as my default Linux OS I want to create a very probably over kill Live Boot USB (thinking around 32GB) of multiple Distros, Rescue/Repair tools and partitioning tools. That way I can live boot different ones to mess around with and try my hand at them.

1. How is the best way of going about making such a large live boot USB? If its even possible.

2. Can I install a Distro from the live boot USB to my hard drive? For example could I have Linux Mint on this live boot initially then decide to actually install it from the USB to my computers hard drive.

3. Can I save anything while working on a live boot Distro?

4. Can i access files and things from 1 OS to the other? For example if I were to save a word file, music etc. on Windows 8 can i access that on Linux Mint or would i need to do something like put it on a flash drive or external drive then boot Linux Mint and bring it in that way?


Sorry again for this being long and hope the things I'm asking are not redundant. I feel as though I had even more questions that slipped my mind as I started writing this so I may add them them later. Thanks in advance for all replys.
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  1. Most live boot Linux distros will allow you to install the distro to a hard drive after booting from a live CD/USB. As to accessing files from multiple OSes, that will be problematic. I think most Linux distros will read NTFS partitions, but I'm not sure they'll write to them. And of course you could not even read MS-Word files unless you had something like Libre Office or Open Office installed on the live boot. Most likely you will have to keep files accessed by multiple OSes on a flash drive.

    I doubt you can boot multiple Linux distros from the same USB drive, but I'll defer to those with more experience than I have (quite limited).
  2. I'd agree about complications of multiple distros on one stick, though it could be possible. Linux will see your Windows drive(s) fine, but Windows won't see ext2/3/4-formatted drives (that's Linux's main file system) unless you install Windows software to give you read access to drives/partitions using those file systems. I'd strongly recommend Ubuntu or Xubuntu for quality distros with Mac-ish style interfaces. Cinnamon (Mint) and KDE are a bit more Windows-style. All very nicely-presented though.
  3. I may have found my answer to creating a large live boot usb here: http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-multiboot-usb-creator/
    There is also a creator on there for booting from within a Linux OS as well.

    Still a little unsure about being able to save anything while running a live distro. Not that thats a problem I'm more or less just curios about it. Also with accessing files from 1 OS to another would it make a difference if they were 2 Linux OSs like Linux Mint to Ubuntu?
  4. I think you'll be fine saving since obviously your USB stick is re-writeable media. My motherboard can't boot from USB stick though so my only live distro experiences are from live CD/DVD, which of course are read-only after burning. Different Linux distros can see each other no problem at all.
  5. sam_p_lay said:
    I think you'll be fine saving since obviously your USB stick is re-writeable media. My motherboard can't boot from USB stick though so my only live distro experiences are from live CD/DVD, which of course are read-only after burning. Different Linux distros can see each other no problem at all.


    Interesting i didn't even think about a motherboard not being able to boot from a USB stick. What computer and motherboard do you have?
  6. mruck05 said:
    sam_p_lay said:
    I think you'll be fine saving since obviously your USB stick is re-writeable media. My motherboard can't boot from USB stick though so my only live distro experiences are from live CD/DVD, which of course are read-only after burning. Different Linux distros can see each other no problem at all.


    Interesting i didn't even think about a motherboard not being able to boot from a USB stick. What computer and motherboard do you have?


    It's a Gigabyte EX58-UD3R (X58 Express platform, first gen i7 enthusiastic chipset). I wouldn't worry too much about that - even a few years ago it was rare for a motherboard to lack the capability. Just bad luck I guess! Weird because it actually will boot from other USB devices like a USB HDD or even USB floppy drive. You wouldn't think a stick would be so different. Still, worth checking your motherboard manual or the website I suppose.
  7. I can't speak for all distros but with Ubuntu, when you use either KDE or GTK boot disk creator you have the option to delegate space for saving modifications you make plus for saving files. This is great for adding on programs or files but the caveat is that they can only been seen when booted to that partition. ie you can't save something there and then plug it into another computer and open the files.

    I keep a live Ubuntu USB on a flash dedicated to installing Ubuntu on other systems and repairing Windows. I keep tools there like combofix, partitioners, virus definition updates, safe mode recovery, malwarebytes...etc. This way I can start an infected Windows machine in Ubuntu and then transfer all the tools over to the infected Windows thus foiling the "erase all anti virus tools on USBs" viruses and I can get to work without the pain of having the infected machine screwing up my flash.
  8. stillblue said:
    I can't speak for all distros but with Ubuntu, when you use either KDE or GTK boot disk creator you have the option to delegate space for saving modifications you make plus for saving files. This is great for adding on programs or files but the caveat is that they can only been seen when booted to that partition. ie you can't save something there and then plug it into another computer and open the files.

    I keep a live Ubuntu USB on a flash dedicated to installing Ubuntu on other systems and repairing Windows. I keep tools there like combofix, partitioners, virus definition updates, safe mode recovery, malwarebytes...etc. This way I can start an infected Windows machine in Ubuntu and then transfer all the tools over to the infected Windows thus foiling the "erase all anti virus tools on USBs" viruses and I can get to work without the pain of having the infected machine screwing up my flash.


    Awesome okay thanks. Also what live tools/utilities do you use? When i make this large live USB I plan on adding a section for things like that to a. help out friends and family and b. incase my windows decides to give me problems before I'm totally comfortable getting rid of it and only using Linux.
  9. Testdisk/photorec in Ubuntu is a Godsend. Not only can you find and copy files, even from deleted partitions, you can fix the geometry of corrupted flash drives. There seems to be something here that is changing the geometry of them and this is the only thing I've found that works to bring them back to life. Gparted is the gui partition manager. Avast 4 Linux works but is so slow I can only use it on high ram machines which are rare here. Of course if the problem is a virus then go to the combofix site and get it, best to use that with someone who knows it until you know what it does, with some infections you can lose a lot, be advised. And of course Malwarebytes. The last two run in windows only, but as I said, I don't like sticking my flashes into machines running windows that may be infected so I always boot to a live ubuntu and transfer the files over without starting windows. Finally, chntpw will help you out with lost passwords and more.
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