I want to build a (very) nomad work platform and I don't want it to be on the cloud but on a USB drive. (I know I will have to create backups and/or disk images to make it USB disk failure proof.)

I am very fond of Dokuwiki on a stick as a portable notebook: it's a Dokuwiki install with a micro-Apache server, and it lets me have my research notes and papers and work on it everywere.

But I would also like to work on my LaTeX papers, on my IPython notebooks, and why not embed my IPython notebooks in my dokuwiki pages. I would then have (nearly) everything I need to work properly and make demos anywhere without bothering with configurations. And even make several USB images for several contexts.

I am then looking for a lightweight live distribution where I can easily install this environment. I know Debian more than other distributions but I'm ready to try any good alternative.

closed as primarily opinion-based by jasonwryan, Faheem Mitha, cuonglm, Michael Homer, bsd Aug 5 '14 at 10:24

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Typically the answer to these questions is to download one, try it, rinse and repeat until you find one that works for you. – HalosGhost Aug 5 '14 at 9:00
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    Indeed. Aside from that you could give this a shot: linuxliveusb.com. It gives a wide variety of distro-choices and allows for allocation for persistend memory. I got an archBang installation on a 32GB stick and am very happy with it. – Mark Aug 5 '14 at 9:16

I've been using Puppy Linux for this. (Precise Puppy)

It is very USB stick friendly:

  • It loads your save file to RAM on boot.
  • It saves your data at an interval (I set it to 30 minutes) and on shutdown to your USB stick.
  • Additions are partially done via layered file systems.

This reduces the writes to your USB stick, so that it lasts longer.

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