Slax...or every jedi must make his own lightsaber

Slax is a portable version of Linux that can be run from a cd-rom, a flash drive, or even launched from a hard drive. What makes Slax so special is how easy it is to modify. Slax is made up of modules and magic.

The by default Slax runs a simple KDE desktop. It can be extended by adding modules to it. Modules can be downloaded from the internet while it is running and installed and used immediately. There is also a "modules" folder for adding modules that will run when slax is started. There is a limited amount of memory and a limit to how many modules can be loaded. There is also a folder called "optional" where you can place modules that you want to load only when they are going to be used. For example you could load one set of modules for reformatting a hard drive (gparted). At another time, load a set of modules for working with encrypted file systems (truecrypt). At another time, load a set of modules for recovering pictures from a memory stick (testdisk).

Then for the magic. There is a folder called "rootcopy" when slax boots the followng happends
  1. The kernel loads
  2. The base modules for linux, x, kde, etc are loaded.
  3. Services are started
  4. Modules from the "modules" folder are loaded
  5. Everything in root copy is copyed to the root of the linux system.
  6. rc.local is run
  7. a text prompt or kde session starts.
So it is possible to drop in scripts and files into users folders. Scripts can be run before users are logged in, or a kde session can be started and KDE can autorun any programs or scripts desired.

A typical Linux guru can install slax on a memory stick, set the stick to be bootable, copy modules into the modules folder. Copy files into the rootcopy folder. Then have a customized copy of linux that does exaclty what they want it to do. That is the beauty of Slax. Any other live Linux distro can be remastered. However it takes much more work and skill to do so. Slax makes it easy and fun.

My copy of Slax has the following tools on it.
  • ssh to allow remote logins
  • x11vnc to allow remote control of the KDE desktop
  • dmraid to deal with systems with RAID arrays
  • gparted to rezie drive partitions
  • partimage to backup and restore partitions
  • samba to connect to smb shares for back/restore jobs
  • testdisk to recover deleted files on flash drives
  • truecrypt for working with encrypted drives
Over the course of the next several blog entries I am going to show how to do the following.
  1. Download Slax with most of the needed plugins
  2. Add the remaining plugins and to be able to dual boot Slax and Windows
  3. How to resize paritions, mount windows folders from the network
  4. How to backup and restore windows over the network
  5. How to create a "recovery CD"
  1. When this series is done you will be able to remotely reboot a windows machine to run Slax and then create a backup image or restore a backimage. This makes it possible in a company to fix a broken windows install. From 1000 miles away you can reboot a broken windows install and replace it with a backup copy to get everything working again.