My students often use the classroom projector screen to give presentations, usually using PowerPoint, but sometimes they show pre-recorded presentations in SMPlayer.

The classroom computer is sufficiently powerful, but as it uses Windows, we ran into many problems which wastes class time. Windows simply has too many problems recognizing USBs, handling viruses, displaying multimedia inside PowerPoint slides, and opening the PowerPoint files created with different versions of PowerPoint. I never have these issues on my Linux desktop computer, so I think if I ran a live Linux distribution from CD or DVD, the students could give their presentations without a glitch.

Is there any live distribution specifically designed or well-suited for presentations? This would, minimally, need to include:

  • Adobe Acrobat (for PDFs)
  • LibreOffice of similar software (for PPTs, PPTXs)
  • Music/video playback software (for as many formats as possible)
  • Web browser, with Flash plugin
  • 1
    Can you please provide feedback on the answers you've received thus far? Not sure what else you're looking for beyond the answers you've already received, so it makes it somewhat difficult for everyone to provide more potential answers, or to refine the ones they've already provided.
    – slm
    May 8, 2013 at 21:39
  • This has been bugging me with this question but I have to say it: I find it extremely frustrating that the answer with the highest number of votes is the answer that's basically saying that there is no Linux distro available to do this when surrounding that answer are at least a dozen or so options to the contrary. I would expect this limited thinking on other sites but the fact that it's on a Unix & Linux site really pains me. There I said it.
    – slm
    May 13, 2013 at 19:23
  • The answer with the highest votes (my answer) does not say there is no distro -- it's say there is no best distro. I'm sorry if that is not clear. The bottom line is any of hundreds of distros can run the same software and I find little value in just listing another one when it's just as good as any other. For that reason I try to explain to the OP that the best bet is to focus on more relevant things than the distro itself.
    – user38810
    May 14, 2013 at 0:42
  • I find this site frustrating as well. On Stackoverflow this sort of "vote your fav" would be shut down quickly.
    – user38810
    May 14, 2013 at 0:44
  • 2
    Can you run a live CD/DVD in the classroom? Most schools I've been to (for IT support) won't allow booting anything else but the hard drive.
    – Gert
    May 14, 2013 at 8:13

7 Answers 7


Edited for clarity

There won't be a particular best distribution because your purpose is too narrow for a dedicated distribution. Any of hundreds of actively maintained distributions can run the same software you need, as a "live CD." You should look for something widely used that has relatively updated packages so that you can have the best chance of using software that supports newer standards and formats.

That being said, I think the idea that you'll have better luck opening PPTs with LibreOffice than Microsoft Office is questionable.

Your best bet is to set standards for each presentation. For example, require PDFs for slides and a certain, common file format for audio and videos, etc.

Another option is to require an online presentation software. You can then require each student test their presentation with a certain browser which you use in the classroom. Tis approach would take most of the technicals out of your hands and you'd only have to worry about having a modern web browser.

  • Good clarifications. Reads much clearer now.
    – slm
    May 14, 2013 at 18:14

PCLinuxOS is another solid choice for use as a presentation distro. It comes with the following applications:

  • VLC
  • LibreOffice
  • Firefox
  • Flash
  • PDF Reader

The list goes on and on of what it can do. The download is 1.6GB, and the windowing environment is KDE.


Here's some screenshots of it in action, as I put it through it's paces.

main menu

   ss of main menu

LibreOffice's Impress for presentations

   ss of impress

Firefox with Flash plugin

   ff w/ flash

Firefox playing back youtube video

   ff w/ video

Firefox with built-in PDF Reader & standalone PDF Reader

   ff w/ pdf

Opening sample PowerPoint File (.ppt)

   ppt #1

   ppt #2

Mounting a USB Flash Drive

   usb fd #1

   usb fd #2

  • Hi. I noticed you have two answers -- one recommending PCLinuxOS and one recommending Cr OS Linux. Why are you providing two answers instead of listing these both as one answer? If you feel these are the two best distros to meet the OPs requirements, can you please explain why they are better than any of the hundreds of other actively maintained Linux-based distributions that can run the same software?
    – user38810
    May 14, 2013 at 0:31
  • My answers aren't me supporting either solution more or less, merely that they are choices that satisfy what the OP listed in his requirements. There is no limit to how many answers one can provide to an answer and I felt it made more sense to list each option individually, rather than create a humongous answer that would be difficult to both type up and navigate as a reader. I do not think these 2 distros are any better than the multitude of other options that are available, they are merely just 2 more choices. See my comments at the top of the question for my position on this question.
    – slm
    May 14, 2013 at 0:37
  • @slm +1 to your comment. Your answer is already humongous enough :) And yes, it makes more sense to have separate answers as separate answers. May 14, 2013 at 18:03
  • Yes sorry for the length - displaying the type of post I wanted to do - I'm limited in the features of the SE editor and markup. I wanted to show the various features in use rather than just provide a link to "yet another distro" or to just list the features.
    – slm
    May 14, 2013 at 18:17

I use Linux Mint 13 LTS Cinnamon edition as in my laptop, for pretty much everything, including preesntations.

For your requirements:

  • The default pdf reader is evince: simple and effective.
  • It comes with LibreOffice installed. I usually have troubles with presentations created in MS PowerPoint (layouts, videos, sounds, templates), so my choice was install MS PowerPoint 2007 with PlayOnLinux (the installation is straightforward).
  • Multimedia codecs are already installed, so it works just fine.
  • The default browser is Firefox, flash is widely supported. I personally prefer Google Chrome, also fine for flash.
  • Is this available as a live CD or DVD?
    – Village
    May 11, 2013 at 3:48
  • I could not remember well (because I usually install everying in dual boot), but according to this site: yes, it is a live DVD.
    – RSFalcon7
    May 11, 2013 at 12:51

Your question for the perfect live-distribution might be a bit misleading.

As far as I know there are no out-of-the-box distributions live cds with all your needs. This is mainly due to licensing issues. For example delivering an iso with adobe flash included will be a problem.

What you are looking for is some way to create your own live cd as of your taste. Most of the common linux distributions offer ways to create own, customized live images. Let's have a look:

  • Debian offers the Live System project.
  • Ubuntu offers a good documentation on how to create customized live cds.
  • ArchLinux custom iso creation is also well documented, but it is no simple workthrough.
  • Gentoo will be my personal recommendation. This might be the most complex distribution. but you will have latest software packages available and the most options of customization. If you prefer a binary distribution you can use Sabayon which is based on Gentoo and offers packages to create custom live cds.
  • If Gentoo is not complicated enough, you can build your own Linux from scratch. This way you will only have packages you really desire and need.

If you are looking for graphical tools for creating live cds have a look at:

  • Fedora's Revisor "enables you to customize and compose your own Fedora based installation and live media."
  • Suse's Studio "can build SUSE live cds from your browser in just a few clicks."
  • Ubuntu's Customization Kit "is a tool that helps you customizing official Ubuntu Live CDs to your needs."

For further reading, have a look at this question over at stackoverflow: Building a custom Linux Live CD - Or this blog post: How to Create Custom Linux Live CD/USB


Archlinux makes it fairly easy to roll out your own LiveCD, which you can configure to contain exactly what you need. Check out https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Archiso


Fedora makes it easy to create a LiveCD tailored to taste.


I would give Cr OS Linux a try. Looking at it's list of features it seems to cover everything that you're looking for.

Featured software in the latest Cr OS Linux:

  • Linux kernel 3.6.5
  • Cinnamon 1.6.6 desktop environment
  • Chromium 24.0.1290 web browser
  • InSync beta 10 client for Google Drive
  • Banshee 2.4 media player
  • Shotwell 0.12 photo manager
  • GIMP 2.8 image editor
  • LibreOffice 3.5 office suite
  • Wine 1.5 Windows emulator
  • Cheese 3.4 webcam app
  • Pidgin 2.10 instant messenger
  • Dashboard with the social toolbar
  • Control Center
  • and much more!

The Chromium web browser (opensource version of Chrome) comes with Flash support, most of the other LiveCD/LiveDVDs seemed like you had to install them and then install Flash which didn't meet your requirement of running completely from the CD/DVD.

As evident in this video clip you can clearly see that Flash Player is included in distro.

Also here's a screenshot:

       ss of flashplayer in menu

  • Why the down vote? Meets all the criteria that the OPs looking for.
    – slm
    May 8, 2013 at 20:01
  • 2nd down voter: down voting is pointless if you don't express what's wrong.
    – slm
    May 8, 2013 at 20:56
  • I assume its because of the NEW! NEW! NEW! ;) May 8, 2013 at 23:43
  • Sheesh. If that's all just leave me a note, I'd be more than happy to remove them 8-).
    – slm
    May 8, 2013 at 23:44
  • I dont really know, im none of the down-voters^^ May 8, 2013 at 23:45

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