The school here wants to teach basic Linux and Unix things like terminal and CLI. The problem is, installing things is not allowed. So, dual boot is out of the question. Just running windows 8.

Next, the systems aren't powerful enough for any VM. Running ancient systems on 4GB RAM. Currently, the school is using Cygwin. But we can't properly use commands like chmod and the like.

I am thinking of

  1. Using git bash terminal. Don't know if permission commands will work properly on Windows 8 or not.
  2. Using live ubuntu on USB. The system will be read-only, so mkdir and chmod is out. Or is there a way to do this? Please suggest.
  3. Using Slackware or Puppy OS.
  4. As suggested in comments, running a distro online.

As a student what can I suggest to the teachers? Option 3 seems the most viable choice. Any suggestion is welcome.

EDIT: persistent storage is not a requirement. On the contrary, it is welcomed, cleaning up after all the experiments.

Thank you

  • Live Ubuntu isn't read-only. You can do mkdir and chmod. Changes are lost when you reboot, unlike with persistent disks. – muru Jul 31 '19 at 4:04
  • @muru so all the commands like chmod and mkdir will work properly without leaving anything after shutdown. is it? – Doc Jul 31 '19 at 4:05
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    If you stick to the live system, yes. If you mount the local hard disk and mess with it, no. – muru Jul 31 '19 at 4:06
  • @muru thanks. will try it out. – Doc Jul 31 '19 at 4:07
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    git bash is cygwin – Jasen Jul 31 '19 at 4:42

Any distro with a live image should work.

A word of caution, though: One COULD use a live linux to mount the windows system disk and then cat /dev/zero > /dev/windowsdisk and thus destroy the windows installation.

A more secure setup would be to boot the PCs from the network and start an already preconfigured system. That would offer teachers more control over what is happening.

Debian-Edu might be helpful.

And you probably should have a look at https://serverfault.com/questions/27454/tips-on-setting-up-a-linux-classroom-environment

  • +1 for the caution. I have complete faith in the students. ;) – Doc Jul 31 '19 at 5:51

One option would be to run Ubuntu Live from a USB stick with persistent storage, meaning you partition your USB stick for Ubuntu to use as storage and save your settings. The following link explains how to do this:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.howtogeek.com/howto/14912/create-a-persistent-bootable-ubuntu-usb-flash-drive/amp/ The commands you have mentioned (mkdir and chmod) should work on Ubuntu live, however without the persistent storage it will be wiped along with any other changes and configurations made when you reboot

Another option available is to instead of using Ubuntu Live, install Ubuntu on to the USB disk. The following link explains how to do that: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.dionysopoulos.me/portable-ubuntu-on-usb-hdd/amp/

  • persistent storage is not a requirement. On the contrary, it is welcomed, cleaning up after all the experiments. – Doc Jul 31 '19 at 4:03
  • In that case the Ubuntu Live or other live distro should work. The commands you are looking for will work. Alternatively you could suggest setting up a cheap/inexpensive server where the students could SSH into if you are just going to work on the CLI. You can utilize PuTTY in that case – am401 Jul 31 '19 at 4:05
  • I tried live ubuntu 16.04 on VM on my pc. tested chmod and mkdir. seems to work fine. is there anything else I need to test before I suggest it to school? – Doc Jul 31 '19 at 4:22
  • You should be all set. Good luck! – am401 Jul 31 '19 at 4:28

Easiest way is to spin up cloud linux instance. There are multiple cloud service providers. (Eg: AWS, Azure, GCP, Alibaba ...etc) Even you can create free account. Only thing you need to have is internet connectivity and ssh client tool like putty or xshell (there are many more ssh client tools).

Or else you can use a linux protable softwares which can run via pen drive. Anyway if you use light weight / minimal installations you won't need any high resources. eg: https://mashtips.com/best-portable-linux-distro/


I love copy.sh for this kind of stuff. They offer "root access" in a browser based terminal to a VM that is restored to a clean state when you're done.

They use "v86" emulation, which is 32 bit and boils down to a Pentium 1 instruction set, see https://github.com/copy/v86 and especially the How does it work? section.

  • creating custom emulator using locally stored ubuntu 16.04 iso won't work. what is wrong? – Doc Jul 31 '19 at 6:39
  • The VM technology they use apparently uses an x86 emulation (32-bit) and not 64 bit. Try another image or just use their copy.sh/v86/?profile=archlinux archlinux one :-) – Edward Jul 31 '19 at 6:51

Linux Live USB Creator has an option which allows you to use Windows as a host and virtualize a Linux OS booted from a LiveUSB it creates. The third tickbox in Step 4 must be checked to enable this option, as shown in the picture below. It would require each PC or each student have a 4GB or larger USB flash drive, and because of your slow PCs, a very lightweight distro is recommended; Puppy Linux is explicitly supported.

Launchable option

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