What Linux Distro(s) are You Using and Why?

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm not a Linux jock. I'm mostly just a user who can poke around under the hood, a little, and I don't usually mess anything up.

I spend most of my laptop time on a Chromebook. Otherwise, I mostly use Linux and, sometimes, I use Windows (when necessitated for business reasons).

I've used Linux Mint with Cinnamon Desktop, for a few years, mostly because it's the most Windows-like. It's a pretty small leap from Windows to Linux Mint, especially with Cinnamon Desktop.

In recent months I've gravitated toward Puppy Linux and really like it. It's become my preferred distro. Here's why:

  1. It's very compact. The ISO is only around 350MB. And it loads completely into RAM, on boot-up, since it's so small. That makes it run pretty fast.
  2. You can run it, live, from a USB memory stick, with persistence-- so it saves it the way you use it-- as if it were installed on an internal drive.
  3. It has REALLY good hardware detection and the drivers to go with it. With Mint I'd have to sort out a few sound or track pad issues, on some laptops, but Puppy Linux gets the entire job done without any tinkering on my part.

I've got it installed on a low-profile 16GB USB 3.0 memory stick that barely sticks out of the side of my laptop. I've got Chrome browser installed so, when I boot Puppy Linux, I just open Chrome browser and it's like I'm using my Chromebook. All my bookmarks are there, ready to go.

I didn't have to partition my internal drive for dual boot or anything like that. I just pop the memory stick into whatever computer I'm at and boot up off of it. Then it's just like using my computer at home.

So I can basically fit the computing environment that I'm comfortable with onto a flash drive that's the size of a nickel.

Every computer that I've tried plugging it into, it's had no trouble adjusting to the hardware differences.

It boots slower than a regular installation because it detects the hardware each and every time-- in case it's changed-- but it still boots up in about 45 seconds so I've got no complaints.

Some people don't like that Puppy Linux automatically boots you into root mode rather than creating users and passwords, but I actually prefer it. In Mint it felt like I was constantly typing in my password for some reason or other.

I've got an assortment of laptops, at home, and a number of computers at our store, as well, so I'm enjoying the portability of this live USB copy of Puppy Linux.

So share what you're using and why. And if you're using a distro that can be installed on a thumb drive with persistence, and you think it's better than Puppy Linux, then I'd especially love to hear about it.

Whenever I've tried linux I've enjoyed elemental. It is a bit of a mac copy but that is probably a good thing. I find a lot of the other distros to be a bit too unrefined graphically. A bit too nerdy.

I've been dabbling with Linux distros for a few years and have tried out maybe 30/40 of them. I'm currently using MX Linux, which I have been stuck on and quite pleased with for some time because of its well-oiled synthesis of reliable functionality, user-friendliness, and attractive features. Since I have been running it, MX has become the number 1 distro on distrowatch.com as it surpassed perennial favorites Linux Mint, Ubuntu, etc. Mx just works well.

Concerning USB Chromebooks, I agree that it's amazing that one can install a small Linux distro set up with persistence onto a USB stick and install the Chrome or Chromium browser, which in effect creates a portable USB that one can plug into any old laptop or pc transforming it into a Chromebook because the Chrome browser is almost indistinguishable from the Chrome OS. There are many Linux distros that can run with persistence from a USB stick, but my favorite has been Rasbpian Pixel for pc or Mac, which was created by the Raspberry Pi people about 3 years ago so that schools could repurpose old laptops on the cheap. Since the Raspbian OS, based on Debian Linux, was originally developed to run on the minimal specs of the Raspberry Pi from an SD card, it runs very fast on USB sticks utilizing pc hardware.


I tried a few Live Linux Distros a few years ago. I remember KNOPPIX feeling pretty fast. Its speed was in a class of its own compared to the others I tried (suse, ubuntu, mandrake? red hat?, pclinuxos?). I'll try to try (!) Live Linux Distros again. So, much time has passed. I'm curious of how things are now. Puppy and MX sound good.

BTW, has anyone tried ReactOS? What was your experience like?

I believe I wanted to try ReactOS but couldn't get it to boot from USB, and I'm not the only one to have that experience. ReactOS has been a work in progress since 2014 and the reactions from users have not been generally favorable the past five or so years, similar to unfavorable reactions to Windows 10 since its debut. Maybe ReactOS will shine someday soon.

I've been outta the loop for a few years but all the distributions can be persistent on a USB drive. Basically install the ISO onto a temp USB and then when you're ready to install as if to a hard drive or SSD, just point to a second USB instead. Usually you'll want two or more partitions on that second USB so if you accidentally corrupt the OS partition, your data/media/etc is separate.

I read through some of the Puppy FAQs, and it looked like something I might be able to try. My 'old' laptop stock is really old.....

Thanks. You’re right. Many people aren’t aware of the persistence on all distros fact.

Thanks for the link. It doesn't look good. USB complaints all over.. And all my keyboards/mice are USB. I don't think I have any PS2 devices anymore...

I sure hope so. Windows 10 has too many negatives.

Does cloudready even belong in this discussion?
I've used it to salvage a few ancient netbooks for poor / computerless.

It's linux-based, so we'll allow it! :wink:

Glad you mentioned it since the thread has been talking about Chromebooks. In the past, I created a cloudready USB stick to try it out and it worked fine, although I never installed it to a hard drive. I did discover, though, why it was recommended one download and create the USB stick on a Windows pc, for I created the USB stick on a Linux pc and I had to rename the downloaded image form the Windows-compatible name to something like iso.img at the end in order to get the stick to boot cloudready's Chromium on the Linux pc. "ArnoldtheBat" (love that name) site has many Chromium images available for making and running Chromium on pcs, though doing so is somewhat more involved than cloudready's process.



Reading Isamorph's makeuseof link I came up on another makeuseof link:


It explains how to put multiple OSs on a USB stick using programs like WinSetupFromUSB, MultiBootUSB, XBoot, or YUMI. Has anyone here done this? Was it as easy as the link says? And can Chromium be one of OSs? The Chromium links say Chromium's install will wipe out the disk where Chromium is installed.

Now that one can get hold of 1 terabyte USB sticks, one can put half the universe on one. Rather than installing multiple OSs on one, installing multiple pc repair tools on one is more to my liking. Having repair tools such as super grub disk (https://www.supergrubdisk.org/), parted magic, etc. would be like having a pc swiss army knife on hand.

I haven't used any of the multiboot USB tools, but I have installed multiple Linux distros on the same hard drive, which, with formatting and partitioning, should be the same on USB hard drives. Not sure about the cloudready Chromium wiping the entire disk when installing, for it seems one could format and partition the disk and install Chromium on just one partition while leaving the rest of the disk space or partitions unused. But it doesn't look as if the cloud-ready Chromium USB creator and installer provides for that option.

Anyway, if you're not familiar with downloading, installing and booting Linux iso images, it can be a bit tricky at first, and whatever you do stay away from your pc hard drive unless you want to install a distro there.

Aah, I read Isamorph's words, "I have installed multiple Linux distros on the same hard drive" - and shuddered.

I shuddered, remembering my frustrating attempts at doing the same a few years ago. I don't know if it was because I was trying to install distros that supported hard drive encryption, but no matter how hard I tried, the grub bootloader of the second distro would refuse to list the first distro - which meant that I couldn't access the first distro I had installed. Tried reversing the order of installation - same frustrating results.

That was a few years ago, and I was trying to install them side by side on a Windows PC without overwriting the Windows partition. So like a good Linux fanboy, I am just going to blame Windows for all the frustration I experienced!

That's what I thought too. Select a partition and let it go nuts there!

I see in the pics you point the multi-installer to your various isos. I think I'll try the Chromium iso from Arnold first on a partition of the USB stick and we'll see what happens. Not really sure when I'll try that but I'll try it.


For anyone wanting to be a full-time Linux user, especially with more than a single distro, here are some helpful things to look into=>

This is installed by me into any Linux system that I work on.

More info about that here:

This next is about a tool that has helped me many times & which I keep near to hand as a boot media:

"Super GRUB2 Disk helps you to boot into most any Operating System (OS) even if you cannot boot into it by normal means."

I can imagine how this might happen, but...:

My only way is to use windoze as a guest OS inside a VM - it runs better & faster that way & when it barfs (not if...), simply resetting the VM puts it all back as it was before it barfed.

I have used multiple Linux distros on the same boxes many times, and once in a while they've needed some fiddling to get things right using the tools I've mentioned above - and then all is well.

I installed multiple Linux distros on the same hard drive with Windows "not" on that drive(I keep W10 under lock and key on a separate hard drive). Dual or triple booting with Windows on the same drive has been a constant pita for Linux users, though how problematic it is seems to depend on what device or hardware is used, etc. Windows doesn't play nice with other operating systems alongside and constantly tries to control the bootloader not to mention the entire pc. Google problems dual booting Windows 10 with Linux. That said Windows 7 was much kinder than W10 when it came to dual booting with Linux. Sad to see it buried.

A follow-up question:

I have a laptop with Windows 10 installed on the SSD. I have Puppy Linux installed on a USB3.0 flashdrive and it works great. I also have PrimeOS installed on another USB drive and it works fine in live mode, as well.

I used unetbootin to create each of my live USB drives. Is it possible to combine them onto one USB flashdrive?


Take a look at MultiBootUSB in the link provided by @dst11 in the link he provided earlier in this thread. It might be the easiest way to combine multiple OSs on the same USB stick.

"Adding multiple bootable OS distros is easy, browse under Select image and choose your ISO. Note that while MutiBootUSB runs on Windows and Linux, you can only create Linux Live USB systems."