A Debian Live CD is a Debian distribution (that contains as much software as possible) stored on a bootable CD-ROM that can be executed from it, without installation on a hard drive. Nothing is installed, and the system returns to its previous OS once you pop the Live CD out.
One can use a ready CD or burn an ISO image downloaded from the Internet. Because of the large size of the image files many people use a download manager and, more actually, jigdo, for this.
Some Live CDs come with an installation utility launchable from a desktop icon that can optionally install the system on a hard drive or USB keydrive. Most Live CDs can access too the information on internal and/or external harddrives, diskettes and USB Flash memories (i.e. to store data home directory or to be used like rescue systems).
For example, in Dynebolic the nest file is called dynebol.nst and it keeps all your home and settings inside (/home, /etc, /var, /tmp). The available space for your nest is found by dyne:bolic thru your partitions on harddisk or usb storage devices (like USB pens, smartcards or even photo cameras). This approach doesn't requires any change in the data structure of the partitions: just one file is created (dynebol.nst).
Generating Debian Live CDs
Projects and tools for creating a Debian Live CD from standard Debian packages:
Debian Live: Official Debian project taking care about the tools to build, run, and install live systems.
mkdanix noninteractive tool for building custom live CDs. Building is done from scratch. Should be easy enough for anyone who ever tried "make all".
bootcd debian packages
A Mini-Live CD is a bootable business card Linux distribution, this is, small enough to fit on a CD-ROM that has been cut, pressed, or molded to the size and shape of a business card (designed to fit in your wallet or pocket).
Mini-LiveCds are able to hold about 50 MB. See DamnSmallLinux
LiveMove is the set comprised of a LiveCD and a bootfloppy or USB key, i.e. MandrakeMove was a MandrakeSoft product that included a Mandrake Linux LiveCD and a USB key that automatically stored bootloader and hardware configuration as well as personal data. The latest version of this product does away with the disk entirely, presumably due to the size of the latest USB keys.
A MoveKey is a GNU/Linux mini-distribution in a USB keydrive.
List of Debian based Live CDs
Knoppix the mother of all Live CDs:
Damn Small Linux for a mini-CD.
- clusterKnoppix has openMosix support
- Quantian extends clusterKnoppix and Knoppix by adding several gigabytes of quantitative, scientific and numerical applications.
- Linux-EduCD is a KANOTIX and Debian-SID based live CD. New version (0.3 and 0.4) has configurated LTSP (Linux Terminal Server Project) and Moodle (e-learning system).
- Oralux, a Knoppix-based GNU/Linux distribution for blind or visually impaired people. Its user interface is based on Emacspeak, an audio desktop.
- Mepis: user-friendly Debian for newbies.
Kanotix: A live-CD ... that can also be used to install Debian Testing.
Aptosid is a live cd of balanced sid snapshots together with easy and fast installation options to your harddrive, with a properly patched version of the most recent kernels, improved hardware detection, ready to go drivers, helpful scripts and much more - but it will always remain a 100% Debian sid compatible system which stays up-to-date with Debian update system.
CryptoNAS is a fileserver (network attached storage) live-cd with harddisk encryption, fully configurable via web interface.
Voyage Linux is a Live CD for x86 embedded system and serves as PXE-install server.
List of other Live CDs
Other Debian-related LiveCD Resources