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I have a 16gb flash drive which I want to contain a portable Linux install. If I could just install Knoppix onto the flash drive, and have that work on any computer, I could do that. Would that work, or are hardware specific things set when you install?

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Might not help you, but I did similar to you, only not a live Linux distro but a regular one. I disabled swap to stop it killing the drive, and just created a NTFS partition. –  Poldie Jan 29 '12 at 0:19
    
@Mat, good point. I split it and added a link to each question. –  FakeRainBrigand Jan 29 '12 at 17:47

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While "work on any computer" is a bit too broad, it is possible to build and configure a system so that it works on as many hardware configurations as possible — after all, that's what projects such as Knoppix try to do, have a kernel with lots of modules available and run clever startup scripts that try to tweak the configuration during the boot process.

Even if, in some cases, it may fail, it's possible to tweak some boot options to workaround known issues (again, that's what Knoppix does with its "cheatcodes", inserted at the isolinux prompt.

This said, even if it covers most cases, I'd still keep some way to exchange data, just in case you're unable to boot it in some computer.

(More technically, hardware-level settings are mostly when you configure the kernel. But many distros just ship the same binary kernel for all its users who prefer not to compile their own kernels. Some hardware-dependent logic may be also set in the configuration files, but that's not as drastic as lacking the correct kernel driver for some device — it will probably just boot but show some error.)

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Have you ever tried moving an installed Linux OS from one physical computer to another? I'll check out Knoppix, thanks. –  FakeRainBrigand Jan 28 '12 at 21:22
    
I don't think I've ever moved an OS between two computers, but I've moved a Debian install to a virtual machine — it worked, but I had to recompile the kernel to add some VirtualBox (VB) modules and install the VB X Windows drivers. Maybe the default debian kernel supports VB, but I usually compile my own. –  njsg Jan 28 '12 at 21:43
    
Ok, thanks. I think I'll just set-up Knoppix as a live-USB. I still have the problem of partitioning, but thank you for your help with this. –  FakeRainBrigand Jan 28 '12 at 22:16

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