I remember hearing about something similar.

My constraints are:

  • It may not be installed on the machine
  • It may not be booted via USB or LiveCD

What I need, in decreasing order of priority:
0. free
1. gcc, binutils, bash
2. low network traffic e.g. =< 1kbps
3. sufficient resources to cross-compile gcc
4. ability to install programs from repos

  • 1
    That isn't really a Linux distro, that's remotely accessing a Linux machine via (probably) a Java applet in your browser. Probably running VNC. – derobert Feb 22 '13 at 14:04
  • That would be an option, as would be something like MinGW (but MinGBrowser :D) – Vorac Feb 22 '13 at 14:05
  • 3
    If you want linux running in the browser, check out the JavaScript qemu port. But I doubt that you have enough resources to cross compile. – Marco Feb 22 '13 at 14:07
  • There is no such thing as Linux running in your browser. You might have a VNC applet, or a ssh applet, etc. running in your browser. But it's definitely accessing a remote machine (or VM) running Linux. – derobert Feb 22 '13 at 14:07
  • @Marco wow, that's... damn, impressive. But yeah, I wouldn't want to try to run gcc in that. 13M of memory! It does have a hello.c to compile, takes a good while. And that's not with gcc... – derobert Feb 22 '13 at 14:09

I don't really understand why you have such unusual constraints. No installation, no live CD and low network traffic excludes the obvious solutions like booting a distro from USB, setting up a VM or using a remote system via SSH.

How do you actually plan to run such a system? If you really only have a browser check out the JavaScript qemu port. But I doubt that you have enough resources to cross compile applications or that you will be able to use such a system efficiently.

  1. free

Most of the linux distributions are free.

  1. gcc, binutils, bash

Most of the distributions ship with those apps either pre-installed or installable via packet manager or from source.

  1. low network traffic e.g. =< 1kbps

Linux distributions don't generate network traffic. It's the applications that generate the traffic. But the problem here probably is that I don't understand what you want to do.

  1. sufficient resources to cross-compile gcc

That's the crucial point here. The JavaScript solution does not provide sufficient resources and you are not allowed to install a distribution locally.

  1. ability to install programs from repos

Possible with most of the available distributions.

Depending on what you actually want to do, I guess the best way is to set up a remote server and using an SSH solution which allows access from a browser (e.g. via Java applet). The network traffic is low and you don't need to install additional software.

  • Thank you for the discussion and answer, Marco. The purpose of the question is to be able to test some gcc behavior on my work Windows7 machine. However I lack sufficient arguments to ask if I could install MinGW. I guess I'll just wait for an excuse ;P – Vorac Feb 22 '13 at 15:42
  • By its GPL license, Linux (the kernel) is free, the pieces making up typical Linux distributions are also GPL or other open source licences. So all distributions are free. They might include non-free pieces, though. – vonbrand Feb 22 '13 at 21:31

you could create an appliance with susestudio and include any tools from opensuse's repos(external repos or uploaded packages). After creating a appliance you can run it from susestudio's Testdrive(vnc'ing into an VM). That would solve everything besides #3. The VM is only given 512mb RAM/512 swap and the testdrive session only last for an hour(to prevent people was wasting their resources.)

  • But like others said, your constraints are hard to work with. – llua Feb 22 '13 at 16:04

You cold get a cheap machine to do your experiments on, or even use Amazon's EC2 or some similar service.

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