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Is there an Indian Linux bootable CD?

I want to try Linux as the free alternative to the Windows and MS Office on my PC. Is there any Indian Linux that I can try without having to install it on my hard disk?

tech reviews Updated: Jul 02, 2003 16:01 IST

I want to try Linux as the free alternative to the Windows and MS Office on my PC. Is there any Indian Linux that I can try without having to install it on my hard disk? (Robbie Sharma)

Lify is your answer, a new distribution of GnuLinux that fits on just one CD. Insert it in your PC and start the machine. Your PC ignores the C drive and the Windows on it, and boots straight into GnuLinux. Made by Indians for India, LiFY contains the Linux OS, the free OpenOffice software, the Mozilla web browser and mail application, graphics, multimedia, music software, and a good selection of education software for all age groups. All free. You can also freely copy and share the CD with your friends and neighbours. Find the CD with the latest edition of LinuxForYou magazine, or you may contact linuxforu.com. Or try your local Linux User Groups, from linux-india.org. LiFY is based on Knoppix, and is easier to install LiFY on your hard disk as well. It can run from an old Pentium I or Celeron PC, to the latest generation CPUs.

I am bored of all my computer games, and want something really different and exciting to play during these summer holidays. Any suggestions? (Jaideep Singh Kohli)

A new kind of game has just been launched, called 'Journey to Wild Divine'. The game features a biofeedback USB interface designed to allow a player or players to navigate through the game using their mind-power, breath, and heart rate. This is a wild and visionary concept which works so fluidly that you can blow on the screen and objects move as if propelled by your breath. The game features an awesome soundtrack, including Grammy-nominated artists and spanning many genres. This is the new generation of gaming, and you have never experienced anything like this before. Find out more at www.wilddivine.com

What are 16-bit and 32-bit types of software. Does a 16-bit software slow down the performance of a PC? How can I find out which type of software I have? (Suresh Bhardwaj)

Take a computer with its given speed, stated in MegaHertz or GigaHertz. When the data inside it zips along in 16-lanes of highway, and when it zips along in 32-lanes of highway, obviously the latter gives you faster performance. Most new software are 32-bit. Excitingly, new 64-bit chips are being launched. Several distributions of GnuLinux have a 64-bit version. The only way to find out the version of your software is by checking with the software manufacturer.

How can I connect my television to my computer and use my CD-player to see movies? (Mohit Rajvanshi)

Just install a video-out card. Several cards are available from Rs 1,200 to Rs 3,500.

I want to learn how to become a hacker, learn the art of writing computer viruses, and also how to break secure systems. How can I become a professionally-qualified computer hacker? (Saurabh Suri)

The University of Calgary in Canada is going to start teaching select computer science students to write software viruses in a special new disconnected lab. More information on this controversial course at www.ucalgary.edu. If you think Indian engineering colleges should also teach similar academic courses, email your colleges stating reasons for your request.

I am a mathematics researcher and find the prohibitive licenses and prices of mathematics software restrictive. Do free, alternative mathematics software packages exist? (Amitabh Trehan)

Several. According to mathematics experts in India, the leading ones are as follows: n Octave, which is a GPL implementation of a subset of MatLab. n R, a GPL implementation of of 'S'. n Maxima, MIT Macsyma, symbolic math. n GSL, the Gnu Scientific Library. n GnuPlot, for scientific graphics. n SciLab, from INRIA, France. n Mayavi, for 2D and 3D scientific data visualisation. It is written and maintained by Prabhu Ramachandran, one of the founding members of Chennai Linux User Group, and currently working on his Ph.D. in Aeronautics at IIT Madras. n Mupad, for numerical mathematics. n Yacas, for symbolic algebra. Do a google-search to find their sites, please.

I have an old Pentium with Win98. Some CDs don’t work in my drive, and I have been advised to upgrade to a new CD drive. Will the new generation of drives work on my PC? Can I also upgrade to Windows XP? (Hari Shankar)

The new CD drives will work. The software drivers know how to adjust the speed should the system performance be slower. Just ensure the drives ship with a Win98 driver, else check on driverguide.com. WinXP may install, but you will find you may need to upgrade your hard disk, add generous amounts of RAM, and would still find performance issues. The 'throughput' of your Win98 would be more than XP on this machine.

Can a CD lens be used for a CD-burner as well? (Siddharth Anand)

Sure, but would typically clean the 'reading' lens and other mechanism. If problems persist, you need a professional support engineer.

Can I combine my old Cyrix 233 Mhz processor and my Intel Cerelon 766Mhz processor in some way so that I can get the combined power? (Sameer)

Depends on your work. The most popular way is to create a 'supercomputer'. The free and alternative way to do this is to use Beowulf, a linux supercomputer cluster. You will still not match the performance of today's or even a generation older CPUs. Better to sell the components and just buy a new computer.

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First Published: Jun 19, 2003 20:13 IST