A small Linux distro for Education that runs without install or admin rights with a double-click from Mac, Windows or Linux.
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README.md

Levinux - A Micro Linux for Education

Micro Linux for Education

What Is This Project About?

The micro Linux distribution known as Levinux (download ~20 MB) is a tiny virtual Linux server that runs from USB or Dropbox with a double-click (no install or admin rights required) on Macs, Windows or Linux PCs—making it the perfect learning environment and launching-off point for other projects, requiring just enough operating system and a quick introduction to generic nix systems. Levinux is the remix of QEMU and Tiny Core Linux into something perfect for nix newbs. This is perhaps the only place on the Internet someone will recommend to actually try this just to have the experience (but only on Levinux / not on your HOST system!):

sudo rm -rf /

Who is Mike Levin?

Hello World! I'm Mike Levin, an SEO in New York City. I'm an Amiga Computer fan from long ago, with a once bitten, twice shy mentality towards Tech. That's made me seek out the most timeless, while still love-worthy, fundamentals worth learning, and the answer is Unix-like platforms through terminals. That realization made me research the ultimately portable platform, found none, and so had to make my own -- albeit something of a remix and a hack. So, I made Levinux as a side-project, and was surprised to discover it's wide-spread appeal, because at some point in everyone's technical career they research lightweight portable virtual machines that don't require admin rights and runs on a diversity of host computers types. Please read on, but feel free to learn more about me:


An Appeal To The Github Community

The main limiting factor in this project is my inability to make the perfect QEMU binary for use with Tiny Core Linux for each platform (Windows, Mac and GNOME/Unity). I'm currently using the smallest and most highly compatible and widely distributed versions pointed to by qemu.org, but they are becoming forever more brittle as OSes evolve. The QEMU binaries need a fresh compile from a talented and trusted source each platform who knows how to bake-in dependencies like the curses library (but not SDL). There's also a pruning job down to just what's necessary to get the non-graphics version of core.gz, so I suspect it will take a lot of qemu config file customizations. I've seen the binaries as small as 1MB on older versions of QEMU, but modern compiles seem to come in arount 60MB. Times 3 platforms, and the "keep it small" tennant of Levinux goes away. So, anyone up to the challenge?

  • Selecting the right QEMU version and patches code-base on each platform to start with.
  • Trim the qemu configuration file down to the bare minimum to support the also-minimal vimlinuz Linux kernel distributed with Tiny Core Linux.
  • Rounding up all the dependencies to support text-only mode (curses, ncurses, pdcurses, etc.) and static compile them into the qemu binary.
  • Help with testing on the current and last few versions of each OS.

Installation Instructions

Download the zip, unarchive it and...

  1. If on Windows, double-click WindowsLevinux.vbs.
  2. If on Mac OSX, double-click Levinux.
  3. If on Linux, double-click LinuxLevinux.sh and select Run in Terminal.

Machine-specific issues

  1. Windows may prompt you to allow it to run and unblock firewall.
  2. Mac OS X may require you to right-click or Control-click and open.
  3. Ubuntu 14.04 Nautilus / Edit / Preferences / Behavior / Executable Text Files, "Select Ask Each Time"

Including additional packages

Inclusion of additional packages is simple, but requires a few steps be taken to optimize and set up.

  1. Download the package and any dependencies from http://distro.ibiblio.org/tinycorelinux/6.x/x86/tcz/ (dependencies are listed in the {package}.tcz.dep file).
  2. Add the downloaded .tcz files to /Reset/Server/Ingredients/Custom
  3. Add the name of the downloaded package without the .tcz file extension to /Reset/Server/Ingredients/extras.lst

Optional: /Reset/Server/Ingredients/install_extras.sh can be duplicated and point at a file other than extras.lst. This can allow for different packages to be grouped and have group output silenced by pointing the output to /dev/null

Note: Ensure you do not write below the last line in the extras.lst file

Upgrade Instructions

Generally speaking, Levinux will use the most recent version of TinyCore Linux available. If it is out of date, it will be upgraded in a timely manner. For the time being, this upgrade will be performed by @miklevin himself to ensure the validity of the image.

That being said, if you want to upgrade on your own, the process is simple:

  1. Download the latest core-current.iso from http://distro.ibiblio.org/tinycorelinux/downloads.html Use the ~9MB file labeled Core.
  2. Open the .iso image and go into the boot directory. Some versions of Windows may require special software for this.
  3. Copy the files named core.gz and vmlinuz into the MacOS directory and overwrite the existing versions.

That's it. Start the levinux application and it should show the version number.