10 Popular and Best Linux Live CDs

Linux penguin.If you are new to Linux operating system and are hesitant to make your existing computer system dual boot before getting a good taste of this popular open source OS, here is a collection of best Linux live CDs that will boot up an entire operating system without the need to install it on your hard disk. These live bootable disks are ideal for general users who do not want to install the complete Linux operating system on their computers. Although there are dozens and dozens of different Linux flavors with different features, I've handpicked the most popular distributions used for making these live CDs. You can use them freely on your computer system without any fear of overwriting any system information. Simply change the boot sequence of the PC (if not done already) and test drive these Linux flavors to get the feel of this powerful operating system. If you're not satisfied with its performance, simply throw away the CD and your system will continue working as it is with your existing operating system without any problems.

Linux Penguin. Knoppix live CD logo.1. KNOPPIX: This is my favorite Linux distribution for running a live instance through a CD on a PC. Its smart detection module rapidly detects the available hardware and prepares the operating system accordingly at every boot. Freelancers and professionals can use it for demo and educational purposes. The distribution is actively maintained and updated by the developers. Users can either opt for a standard version or can go ahead with a DVD version which includes extra software packages.

Ubuntu Linux logo.2. Ubuntu LiveCD: How about running a Linux live CD built from one of the most popular distributions? Ubuntu live CD is easy-to-make and it can run on almost any system without any problems. Power users can also customize Ubuntu live CD to include select software packages they need for their work. Ubuntu live CD also includes an option to install the operating system on the computer in case you're satisfied with the live version. Do once try this live CD built on Ubuntu platform to get a taste of Linux.

Gentoo Linux logo.3. Gentoo: This popular Linux distribution offer a live DVD which can be used as a live environment on your system. It can run on a wide array of different hardware configurations and can be customized as well. Administrators can also use a variant called 'SystemRescueCD' which also includes a live environment. Users can choose from 4 different awesome GUI environments to play with applications on their live desktop. It can also run smoothly on legacy systems without any glitch making it a favorite distribution for people using older computers.

Debian Linux logo.4. Debian Live CD: Live CD from Debian comes in different flavors and one can choose that fits his needs. Users can choose from their preferred GUI desktop environment during the boot. Hybrid ISO images are also available for users looking to creating a live instance on different types of media. The launcher is available both in text and graphics mode which can be selected at will. Depending on the variant of the live CD you're going to use on your system, you may have to use a regular CD or a high capacity DVD disk.

Fedora Linux logo.5. Fedora LiveCD: This is yet another popular Linux distribution available in the form of a live CD image. Once booted, you can temporarily install required software packages that are retained during that session and doesn't alter anything on your computer's storage device. Data persistence option is also available for savvy users. One can also install the operating system on the hard disk right from within the booted instance. Power users can create their own version of the live CD from the original image very easily.

Puppy Linux logo.6. Puppy Linux: As the name implies, this live CD distribution is compact, blazing fast and runs on wide range of old and new computer systems. It includes an antivirus application which can be used to disinfect broken systems. Both bootable CD and USB versions can be prepared easily in no time. It comes with several popular productivity applications to get work done quickly. If you have a legacy workstation with low RAM and no disk, this live CD distribution can run on it too without any hassle.

Antergos Linux logo.7. Antergos: This is one of the few live CD distributions which includes a soothing interface enjoyed both by newbies as well as by the experts. It can also be used for installing the Linux OS either as a standalone system or as a dual boot option from the live booted instance. The distribution comes with 6 different desktop flavors which can be selected as per the preference. A bootable USB stick can also be prepared for running this Linux flavor. This live CD distribution is actively updated for the user base.

Slax Linux desktop.8. Slax Linux: Do try this live CD for getting a user-friendly Linux experience. This compact distribution has a nice interface and boots extremely fast. It is available in all the popular languages with custom prompts and controls. It includes all the useful and important applications both professionals and general users can try out easily. It also has extensive documentation which can be used both for burning the live CD as well as for getting the usage help. I've tested it both on a laptop and on a regular desktop machine.

Clonezilla Linux window.9. Clonezilla: This is another small and customized live CD for checking out the Linux platform before you decide to install it on your computer. Apart from burning a standard live image, power users can also create a custom image from scratch. Technically sound users can also use several boot-time parameters for custom environments. Live CD can also be installed both on a regular desktop and on a server machine. Like other popular live CD variants, this one also has good documentation for all the active users.

Kali Linux logo.10. Kali Linux: And last but not the least, this live CD distribution is made specifically for administrators and nerds. You can use it for testing system penetration and do ethical hacking. All the required tools are preinstalled on this live CD distribution which is ideal for professionals. It is one of the most actively updated distributions which has an active community to provide quick support to the new users. When running in forensic mode, professionals or administrators can perform a wide range of system checks.