Want to run Linux any time, any place? Here's what to do with popular distributions like Puppy Linux, Ubuntu, and Fedora, so you can boot up directly from your thumb drive.
Most of the time, Linux is run from either an installation on a hard drive or a live CD/DVD distribution. The first is fast, but not very portable; the second can be run anywhere you have a computer and a CD drive with boot access, but typically isn't very fast. Over the last few years, though, we've seen the emergence of something that combines the speed of a hard drive install with the convenience of a live CD: running Linux from a USB flash drive.
While flash memory prices are still high enough that a flash-based 100-GB hard drive is still way out of the realm of what would be affordable for most people, 2-GB and 4-GB flash drives are cheap enough to make a streamlined Linux installation practical.