Speed up the Mint 13 LiveCD by adding a ToRAM Feature

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Speed up the Mint 13 LiveCD by adding a ToRAM Feature

Postby terminator14 » Sun Oct 28, 2012 9:24 pm

About the Project

Have you ever wanted the Mint LiveCD to have a ToRAM feature like knoppix? I know I have. Looking around online, a HOWTO that focuses on this exact topic is https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BootToRAM. https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BootToRAM is for Ubuntu, and hasn't been updated since Ubuntu 9.10, and some things it mentions no longer work as it describes (especially things dealing with the bootloader). It also isn't the easiest HOWTO to follow (maybe that's just me) mainly because of the multiple things that need to be mounted and kept track of. This is why, back in 2010, I spent a few days developing a script that took an Ubuntu ISO, and added a ToRAM feature to it. A few days ago, I came across a need to have a Mint 13 Live DVD with a ToRAM feature, so I dug up my old script, made a few changes, and got it working. Since the Ubuntu script had close to 150 downloads, I polished up the new Mint 13 script, and thought I'd post it here for anyone else who wants it. I used https://wiki.ubuntu.com/BootToRAM and https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCDCustomizationMaverick as my two main sources of information so thanks to the authors of both those pages for making that script, as well as this one possible.

What is a ToRAM feature?

A ToRAM feature is something that copies the entire CD/DVD to RAM before running the live environment. I first saw this done by knoppix, one of the first linux distributions I've ever tried, and now this can be done with Mint 13 as well.

Why do this?

There are several reasons:

Speed: A LiveCD environment is usually considered to be slower than a regular install of the OS. This is because instead of running from the hard drive, the LiveCD runs right from your CD, and since CDs are slower than hard drives, this results in a slower Mint then you may be used to. A ToRAM feature addresses this issue. This is because when the LiveCD environment runs from your RAM, it is not only faster than a regular hard drive install (due to RAM's insane speeds), it is also faster than any SSD.

Getting your CD Drive back: If you boot into a LiveCD environment from a CD, Mint needs that CD to operate. If you have a single CD drive (like most of us do), you can no longer use that drive. If this is a problem for you, the ToRAM feature addresses this as well since it doesn't need the Mint CD to operate, allowing you to remove it and replaces it with any other CD.

Fast Install: Although Mint's install process is fast, it can still take a while before it finishes. If you install Mint often, and don't have the patience to wait for it to finish every time, you can speed up the process by using the ToRAM feature. As an added bonus, if you are installing Mint on many machines at once (like in a library or a computer room), the ToRAM feature allows you to do this in parallel since you won't need the CD for 99% of the installation (only to start it). Keep in mind that while installing from a modified Mint13 DVD is likely to work, it has not been tested.

What will this work on?

This should work for Mint 13 32bit and 64bit, both MATE and Cinnamon.

How does it work?

To create the Mint 13 .iso with a ToRAM feature, follow these steps:
  • boot the Mint 13 live DVD
  • mount a USB or hard drive for temporary storage. This should have at least 7GB of free space available.
  • run the script as:

    Code: Select all

    sudo ./live_cd_customizer_Mint13.sh /mnt/path_to_temp_folder/

Word of Warning

Although I try to build safeguards into any script I upload to the internet to keep them from doing anything unexpected, including this one, you may want to run this script in a VM where it's safe.

Final words

Please post a comment to let me know if this works, or if anything needs fixing.

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Re: Speed up the Mint 13 LiveCD by adding a ToRAM Feature

Postby terminator14 » Tue Nov 13, 2012 12:59 pm

The one thing I'm not too sure about is this:

If I start out with, lets say linuxmint-13-mate-dvd-64bit.iso, which is 885MB, and run my script on it without adding or deleting anything from the live environment that is created, the script produces an iso that is 1.1GB in size, despite having done nothing but modify a few text files, and copy rsync and 2 libraries to the initrd image. Am I missing some argument somewhere that will compress something? Why is the image getting so much larger?

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