Take the 2-minute tour ×
Unix & Linux Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of Linux, FreeBSD and other Un*x-like operating systems.. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm looking for any Distro or LiveLinux for CD/DVD (NOT usb/SD card usage) which does the following:

1) All changes to the filesystem are written to the RAM disk with an overlaid filesystem. 2) Upon shutdown, one inserts the booting media again and the overlay is burned as a new session in the multi-session dvd/cd.

Puppy Linux does exactly that, and this feature is VERY GREAT. however, as excellent as Puppy is, it follows a minimalistic approach, focusing on old hardware on small programs, and Puppy does very little automatic configuration but provides configuration tools for all kind of setup.

I am looking for a more modern distro which offers a decent desktop environment, xfce or, even better, a full blown Gnome would be perfect, but more important is to have standard programs users are familiar with (firefox, openoffice, pidgin etc). The ubuntu livecd would be perfect for that, fits onto 700mb and brings all what is needed IMHO.

Puppy Linux copies over all disc content to RAM so you can remove the media after booting. The distro that I am looking for will be much bigger in space, so it would be better if the system is not copied to leave enough RAM to the applications.

Any suggestions greatly appreciated!

Disclaimer why USB/Sdcard solutions are not feasible for my purpose:

  1. Lots of machines which are not that old are still unable to boot from usb or SD card 2) I want a larger amount of discs to be created, an empty dvd disc can be obtained from below 35 cents and stores 4.7gig, any 4GB or even 2GB usb media will be lots more expensive in larger quantities
share|improve this question
There is a spellchecker built in the SE system, you should use it. –  Philomath Jul 21 '11 at 22:22
didnt know that, thanks for the hint. –  Dyna Jul 21 '11 at 23:02
add comment

1 Answer

I don't think what you are looking for exists due to technical limitations. Puppy linux might get away with it because both their user base and distro are small. Small user base means that the cases that hit a dead end are few enough not to worry about. Since the distro is small and leaves space on the media they can get away with this for longer.

  • Most LiveCD distros fill a CD. That doesn't leave any room for new sessions.

  • Not all cd drives handle multi-session disks cleanly, and you limit yourself to only booting in burners.

Due to these and other technical complications I can see why most major distros steer clear of the feature and send people to USB disks instead.

The usual model for this is to master a disk that includes what you want (including custom software and configurations) then use other media such as optional USB or internet solutions for saving session data. Rolling your own LiveCD is usually not very difficult. Many distros allow modifying the built process to create custom images. There are even tools that will let you roll and iso to burn yourself from nearly any currently running Linux system. Pick your distro, run it either on a real disk, live cd or in a VM, configure it to taste, then roll it up into a new LiveCD.

For storage, offer several options for saving / reloading session data such as separate USB media, the cloud, or even remastering to a new disk using a livecd creator.

share|improve this answer
a LiveCD is no problem because we can burn it to a DVD. Given a 700MB CDimage leaves around 4GB space. For at least DVD+R I know Multisession and Paketwriting are part of specs, so every DVDburner/reader with an official DVD+R logo can do multisession fine. There are very few DVD-R only burners out there, so this is a real minor. I don't think big distros don't touch it because of problems, I think just noone has implemented in there, yet. –  Dyna Jul 21 '11 at 23:17
The technical issues are more than what I've got in my answer so far. What happens when you have to load ten or fifty layers of file system overlays via disc sessions and assemble them all as part of the boot process? Then make yet another write when it's all over? Eventually the disc will fail, the overlays will scramble, and the user won't have their data. Discs written by multiple drives are particularly prone to issues between sessions. Nobody wants to be responsible for programming the live-disk that promises to keep data it's probably going to loose. –  Caleb Jul 21 '11 at 23:25
yes, you can't rely on the disc as a safe data storage, thats clear. The main purpose of the write is to store user settings, install own programs from repos etc. if the disc fails one day, you'd have to redo that, thats a pity, but not a big loss. For drives that fail to read sessions 2 and above, you still have the basic image and a runable linux you could boot. Puppy linux really does all of this very well, even if you got 15 sessions and its getting to much you can just burn it onto a new disc into a single session, all overlays merged. –  Dyna Jul 21 '11 at 23:37
add comment

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.