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A LiveCD is an operating system (that contains as much of your software as possible) stored on a bootable CD-ROM that can be executed from it, without installation on a hard drive. Nothing is installed, and the system returns to its previous OS once you pop the LiveCD out.

One can use a ready CD or burn an ISO image downloaded from the internet. Because of the large size of the image files many people use a download manager for this.

Some LiveCDs come with an installation utility launchable from a desktop icon that can optionally install the system on a hard drive or USB keydrive. Most LiveCDs can access too the information on internal and/or external harddrives, diskettes and USB Flash memories (i.e. to store data -home directory- or to be used like rescue systems).

For example, in Dynebolic the nest file is called dynebol.nst and it keeps all your home and settings inside (/home, /etc, /var, /tmp). The available space for your nest is found by dyne:bolic thru your partitions on harddisk or usb storage devices (like usb pens, smartcards or even photo cameras). This approach doesn't requires any change in the data structure of the partitions: just one file is created (dynebol.nst).

Most LiveCDs contain a system based on the Linux kernel, but there are also LiveCDs for other operating systems, like FreeBSD. A LiveCD for Microsoft Windows is technically possible, and there are such projects, but they are all illegal. There is however TheOpenCD [1], a project to provide Windows users with a downloadable ISO that contains a bunch of easy to use free software.

The Syslinux Project is the tool where the majority of the LiveCDs are based on.

Table of contents
1 Mini-LiveCDs
2 LiveMove
3 MoveKey
4 VMware
5 List of LiveCDs
6 External links


A Mini-LiveCD is a bootable business card Linux distribution, this is, small enough to fit on a CD-ROM that has been cut, pressed, or molded to the size and shape of a business card (designed to fit in your wallet or pocket). Mini-LiveCds are able to hold about 50 MB.


LiveMoves are the set of a LiveCD and a bootfloppy or
USB key.

I.e. MandrakeMove is a new MandrakeSoft product that benefits from a Mandrake Linux LiveCD which doesn't need to be installed to run on a computer, and a USB key that automatically stores bootloader, hardware configuration and personal data.


A MoveKey is a linux mini-distribution in a USB keydrive, like Flonix


With VMware you can try a LiveCD without burn it to a CD or boot the computer.

List of LiveCDs

Debian based

Gentoo based

RPM based


Unix-like, but no Linux

External links