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Slax – The Best Portable Linux OS

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 by | Filed Under: File & Disk Management, Free Downloads

Herman Miller from Ohio writes:

Any suggestions for small OS to replace XP? I’m trying to save an old laptop. Tried a number of Linux burned DVD ISOs, but couldn’t get them to boot (changed Bios). It would require access to wireless internet. Is there one that can be downloaded in entirety over internet without burning DVD or using memory stick (didn’t work for Linux)? If no such thing then I will probably will just dispose of it.

Herman, I believe that the best choice for you would be Slax, which is a great portable Linux distro. It has a beautiful KDE interface and it’s incredibly lightweight (around 200Mb for download). 

You don’t have to install it on your laptop, just to boot from a memory stick. Below I will show you step-by-step how to do that. If you prefer a ready-to-go 16 GB flash drive with Slax pre-installed, just go to their website and order it for $25. Otherwise, follow these instructions:

1. Download Slax from here. Choose the language and type of file – I would advise a 32 bit zip archive. Save it wherever you like.


2. Make sure you have a memory stick with at least 2 GB of memory and backup your data. The stick must be formatted before use. Every setting you change after starting the computer using Slax will be written on the stick, as well as every document you save. Think of this thumb drive is an external hard drive. The larger the better, that’s why I suggest an 8 GB memory stick.

3. Format the stick. In My Computer, right-click its drive letter and choose “Format…”

4. Check the “Quick format” option and click “Start”. Note: if you still have data on that stick, it will be erased.

 5. Right-click the downloaded Slax archive and extract it on the flash disk.

This will create a single folder, called “Slax”.

6. Navigate to “your-drive-letter:\slax\boot\” folder and find the file called “bootinst.bat”. Run it by double-clicking on it.

7. Reboot the computer and make the necessary changes in BIOS to boot from the flash drive. If you see the following screen, it’s all done.

If not, check your BIOS documentation in order to be sure that your laptop is able to boot from an USB flash drive.

~ Adrian

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4 Responses to “Slax – The Best Portable Linux OS”

  1. EZgoing says:

    Adrian, I for one thank you for this article (and Herman for asking the question)… I had plans on keeping our old XP unit to use as a work unit in my woodworking shop… (while keeping it off line of course). Keep files of plans and patterns, photos, a few calculators specific to wood work etc… but this may just put the system to a bit better use, so thanks.

    One issue I have, is in your first two sentences…

    “Herman, I believe that the best choice for you would be Slax, which is a great portable Linux distro. It has a beautiful KDE interface and it’s incredibly lightweight (around 200Mb for download). ”

    Your a bit too quick to use some terms that us NON-tech savvy people are not familiar with… Like ‘distro’, ‘KDE’ and such..

    Please remember, you are not at the local geek bar chatting with your friends here… LOL (no offense intended).. These articles are read by a bunch of us (dare I say) geekless people…. that would very much appreciate you guys dumbing it down a bit for us less informed out here…

    Thanks again for the write-up – MUCH appreciated.


  2. Peter Royle says:

    Hi WorldStarters:

    Did not Herman mention that he cannot boot from DVD or Memory Stick. Why does he not simply install Slax directly on his Portable Hard Drive? Or for a very good, solid fairly light Linux system, he could try Zorin, if he does not want the full-fledged Ubuntu or Linux Mint.


  3. Ronald says:

    I downloaded Slax and put the file folder onto a flash hdrive. Went to my Bios
    and the only boot selection I have is
    1:ATAPI CD-Rom Drive
    2:Hard Drive
    3:Network Adapter
    4:Floppy Disk Drive
    I am running Vista Home Premium (Service Pack 2
    Located the Bat file and ran it. It did its thing and said it was ready.
    Which action should I use from the above list? As I don’t have a listing for the flash drive.
    Thanks Ronald

  4. Keith Monson says:

    Just because you took off XP doesn’t mean you are safe from being hacked, coming across malware (even on legitimate websites) and accidentally downloading something nasty off the web. The article doesn’t speak to the vulnerabilities of these Ubunto products. How often are patches made available. So they have “Service Pack” updates? “Hackers” go after Windows and Mac because they are popular but as soon as they see Linux OS get popular you bet they will be after that OS too!

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