Debian 5, Lenny, is getting closer to delivery and as part of that, the Debian Live Team has released the first official version of Debian Live.
While there have been live versions, Linux distributions that run from CDs, DVDs or USB-sticks, of Debian-based distributions, Debian Live is the first purely Debian live system. As the Team puts it, “Debian Live really *is* Debian, and not ‘just another’ a Debian-based live system.”
The Live version comes with live-helper, a set of shell scripts that allow both the developers and users to automate and customize creating a live Debian system. It also includes pre-built images consists of the three major desktop environments, GNOME, KDE and Xfce. It also includes a small ‘standard’ image which uses a shell interface.
While you can, of course, use the shell scripts directly, Debian Live also includes Live Magic a GUI front-end for the live-helper scripts. This only offers a subset of the script features, but it is easier to use.
Debian Live also offers several pre-built images for CD/DVD discs; USB sticks; tarballs, for PXE (Preboot eXecution Environment) network booting; and a bare squashfs, a compressed Linux file system, image to boot into Debian right from the Web. At this time, the ready made GNOME and KDE images are still too big to fit on a CD. This is expected to be fixed by the next beta, which is due two weeks from now.
The next beta will include a pre-built DVD image that includes all three desktop environments. At this time, there are only images for the i386 and amd64 environments. With the next beta, the team expects to be supporting PowerPC and SPARC as well. Eventually, although probably not by the next beta, Debian Live will also support being booted from Windows.
The Live distribution also includes Live Installer that can be used to install Debian. However, live-installer, according to the team, “still have a few minor bugs left and is thus not included in our builds yet; we hope to be able to include it in the next beta.”
If you’d like to help with Debian Live’s development, the team would like to hear from you. While its too late to join for work with the Lenny, Debian 5), build, they are looking for more coders after Lenny is released. And, of course, they’re also looking for documentation writers for the manual (always).
Want to give the beta a try? You can download it from the Lenny Live beta site. Needless to say, if you find any bugs, the team wants to know about them.