Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 04, 2016, 04:25:56 PM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Author Topic: In search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable  (Read 2712 times)

barney

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,282
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
In search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable
« on: August 31, 2012, 07:47:57 PM »
OK, there've been a number of threads anent various *nix distros.  In fact, I think one (1) of 'em was where I learned about Zorin.

But what I need at the moment is a bit of guidance.  What I'm considering is installing Zorin (or maybe a better distro for the purpose?) on a USB stick.  This will be used on various machines, a couple of which do not have functional CD/DVD drives.  Rationale for this procedure is that others, mostly XP or Win7 users, will be driving the machine(s) most of the time.  My readings indicate that Zorin is likely the most Win-like OS, but I've misread before.

So the question is whether this would be a viable approach, and, if so, what's the best way to accomplish this.  Is there a particular USB boot loader that surpasseth all others?

If memory serves, all the machines in question are USB bootable, so that shouldn't be an issue  :-\.  However the bootloaders for USB that I've seen mention of are widely variant, and I'd prefer not to spend the next six (6) months discovering which would work best for this situation, if I can avoid that  :o.

Reason for using a distro is that a friend of mine has, or created, a program that will track activity - not quite a key-logger, but pretty close - which should let me analyze activity over a period of time in order to discover bottlenecks, hardware issues, and the like.  Unfortunately, it will not run on the MS platform, nor on OSX.

Open/Libre Office and email are the primary usages involved, so that should not be a problem, or at least not a significant problem.  If they want video/audio, they're on their own, although there a a number of *nix applications available for such activity.  I'll prolly install some of them, given the USB stick is large enough.

Sticks I have available are 1G, 4G, 8G, 16G, 32G, 64G, so those will dictate what can be added to the basic loading.  (Just once, I'd love to see a stick that is 25G, 50G, or the like ... I'm accustomed to thinkin' in decimal, not binary  ;).)

So, any suggestions?  Anyone?

ewemoa

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 2,845
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: In search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2012, 12:04:28 AM »
I'm not sure if this is the sort of thing you're looking for, but I've had some good luck with (haven't tried Zorin OS -- but have tried others):

  YUMI

Version 0.0.7.0 claims to support Zorin OS -- see "List of Installable Live Linux Distributions" on the aforementioned page.



Also came across:

  http://zorin-os.webs.com/apps/forums/topics/show/2031471

I've not used the mentioned UNetbootin.



One more thread:

  Persistent for USB

I have used Universal USB Installer before but I don't remember about its persistent-related functionality.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2012, 12:21:51 AM by ewemoa »

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: In search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2012, 05:41:01 AM »
I've run into stability problems (i.e. app crashes, odd behaviors, and lockups) with Zorin in the past. I don't know if they've since fixed it or if it was just my installation that was having those problems.

Q: You mentioned Zorin being very Windows-like. How important an issue is that?

I'm also a little confused who you're doing this for. Is this a USB key just for you  - or is it something that you may also want to hand out to others?
 :)

barney

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,282
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: In search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2012, 11:39:41 AM »
Q: You mentioned Zorin being very Windows-like. How important an issue is that?

I'm also a little confused who you're doing this for. Is this a USB key just for you  - or is it something that you may also want to hand out to others?
 :)

A friend, Jim, has his own small business.  Has five (5) desktops in use.  He wants to track activity on those machines in order (he says) to see whether he can justify some expenses to a couple of [silent] partners.  With the software another friend has, statistics can be generated to show time spent in spreadsheets, word processing, financial software, and the like.  That software needs a *nix platform.  Since these folk are accustomed to Windows, the more Win-like the platform, the less confusion they'll encounter.  All the software in use will run under Wine, so that shouldn't be an issue.  Since Jim can't change the software/OS on the machines, he broached the idea of a bootable USB stick.

The basic idea is to gather monthly data off the sticks for maybe six (6) months, then distill that into something he can take to the silent partners.  Right now, they're doing sneaker-net data transfers, and Jim wants to show his partners enough justification to get a small server installed.  His partners, in spite of using smartphones, are pretty much Luddites (my grandfather did it that way, my father did it that way ... you know the drill), so he needs some serious numbers to justify the server.

Primary usages are
  • word processor
  • spreadsheet
  • inventory control (no scanners)
  • scheduling
  • billing

I think he also wants to snoop on his employees, but that's neither here nor there  :-\ ;).

This whole concept is his, but I told him I'd help if I could.  Personally, I think the whole plan is overly complex and fraught with problems, but it's not my call.  There is nothing he is using that cannot be replicated on a *nix box, but his partners are Windows - the only OS they've ever known, apparently - fanatics.

Hence the original query ... I don't have any experience with Zorin, and less than I should have with bootable USBs.  'Twould appear that's going to be corrected shortly  :huh:.  I'm just trying to shorten the initial learning process as much as possible  :P.

Oh, one (1) other thing.  If Jim can get the server justified, he'll be switching the desktops to a *nix distro, undetermined as yet.  Probably Ubuntu, but there are likely distros better suited for a business environment.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: In search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2012, 12:28:19 PM »
Ok...a few things...

1. It's generally not a good idea to try to use Wine on a production basis for business apps. It's ok in a pinch - or for occasional use. But if you're going to be doing something like running Excel or Word or an accounting program all day you're asking for trouble. I'd keep the users on Windows if that were the case.

2. If he just needs to monitor business use of the machines, and compile stats, he'd probably be better off downloading the free edition of ManicTime and using that. It's Windows native and a whole lot easier than the science fair project you've outlined above.

Regarding this:

Quote
I think he also wants to snoop on his employees...

He might want to check up on what the legal ramifications are for that where he operates. Where I am it's a semi-gray area that poses significant legal risks for the employer. Better suggest he check with an attorney as to exactly what's allowed in his jurisdiction. One thing that does seem to be an almost universal constant is you're not allowed to monitor employees secretly. Advance and ongoing notice has to be given. And very often some form of consent needs to be gotten back from the employees as well. So: Danger Will Robinson!!!

Quote
...but that's neither here nor there  undecided Wink.

Um...yeah...well...it is for me.  :)

My company has turned down numerous requests from people over the years who wanted to do that. It's something we don't personally believe in or want to be a part of. So I'm afraid can't help him with that piece of the puzzle if that's where he's going with it.

3. Servers are dirt cheap for what most SMBs need. Actually...what most of them really need is centralized network data storage rather than a full server solution. In his case, it may be easier to just acquire a mini-server (HP etc.) for around $500, load it with a freebie Linux small biz server solution, and call it a day. That's a lot easier (and cheaper in the long run) than dealing with Luddite silent partners and trying to convince them to buy a server.
 8)

barney

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,282
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: In search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2012, 01:26:14 PM »
Quote
Quote
I think he also wants to snoop on his employees...

He might want to check up on what the legal ramifications are for that where he operates. Where I am it's a semi-gray area that poses significant legal risks for the employer. Better suggest he check with an attorney as to exactly what's allowed in his jurisdiction. One thing that does seem to be an almost universal constant is you're not allowed to monitor employees secretly. Advance and ongoing notice has to be given. And very often some form of consent needs to be gotten back from the employees as well. So: Danger Will Robinson!!!

Quote
...but that's neither here nor there  undecided Wink.

Um...yeah...well...it is for me.  smiley

That statement is unsupported supposition on my part, hence the wink.  As you say, that is a very grey area ... what is legally supported in one (1) situation may not be in the next.  Add to that the equally grey area of personal liability, and it can become a real mess.

As for the rest of your comment, there is remarkably little with which I'd have exception, and most of it is what I've already communicated to Jim, albeit in somewhat more forceful language  ;D.  I suspect (more supposition on my part), from comments he made during our discussion, that this is as much politics as it is practicality.  In some respects, I think he wants to see failures, ammunition for I told you so, perhaps leverage to minimize his partners' influence.  As I said, I think his solution is overly complex, but it's his solution.  He's already using Libre Office so that should be a non-issue.  His financial software is also open source, with versions for *nix, Win, & Mac - another probable non-issue.  His inventory and scheduling systems are Win-specific, but tested under Wine.  They don't normally see that much activity on a daily basis.  We did discuss several of the probable failure points, but in the end, it is his decision.

However, I did commit to helping him with some aspects, and I intend to keep my word regardless what his agenda might be.  That commitment is important to me, on both a personal and a professional level.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: In search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2012, 04:02:56 PM »
However, I did commit to helping him with some aspects, and I intend to keep my word regardless what his agenda might be.  That commitment is important to me, on both a personal and a professional level.

Understood. Word is bond. I can relate.

I'd suggest he go with a Debian-based distro using MATE or Gnome2 for the desktop manager as a general rule of thumb. If the USB keys are going to be assigned to specific machines he could always just do a regular install from a CD/DVD onto the USB key itself and then boot from that. Far easier than mucking around and remastering a live CD

To put a live distro onto a bootable USB key use UNetbootin. Period. Unless the specific distro has it's own UBB tool. It's a simple process. Just follow the guides.

For a distro targeted at Windows users I'd suggest Linux Mint. It's not a Win lookalike, nor is it intended to be. But it's what I give to my Windows users who are moving over to Linux. So far it hasn't caused much in the way of culture shock. Most people I've dropped it on take to it pretty quickly and often end up liking it.

I'd suggest looking at Linux Mint 13 (Maya) for openers and suggest trying the MATE version first. Also use the 64-bit version if you have a 64-bit chip. Mint Maya is based on Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) and uses most of their core and supplemental repositories. So most of what goes for Ubuntu will go for Mint. Think of it as Ubuntu sans that Fisher-Price looking Unity desktop that Canonical keeps trying to convince everybody is the way to go.

Here's what it looks like with the start menu popped up:

mint-13-mate-2012-05-19-20-46-14.pngIn search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable

No big deal right? You open a menu and click on what you want to run. Home folder is the same as MyDocuments. Just like Windows up to Win7.

Let me know how you make out. :) :Thmbsup:

« Last Edit: September 01, 2012, 04:14:42 PM by 40hz »

barney

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,282
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: In search of ... guidance on Zorin as portable
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2012, 05:28:55 PM »
To put a live distro onto a bootable USB key use UNetbootin. Period. Unless the specific distro has it's own UBB tool. It's a simple process. Just follow the guides.

Bingo :Thmbsup:!  That's what I was lookin' for.  Well, that and the distro.  I'd heard rumours about Zorin, but nothing confirmed.  I'd also seen implications that it could run Win software, but guess that's not the case.  I'll definitely try the Mint/MATE combo.  Something that has been proven to work is way preferable to theory  :P.

<sidebar>
Two (2) of the machines cannot accommodate discs.  One (1) of them is physically jammed - user tried to stack music discs  :o.  The other, well ... you've heard the old joke about the cup holder of course.  It really does happen in real life ;):  young lady thought the cup holder would support a sixty-four (64) ounce Slurpee (grape, I think).  Had to replace the keyboard, 'cause the dishwasher trick didn't work, and she had to go home to change clothes (white dress)  :P :P :P.
</sidebar>