The distribution started as a community remix of Slax, another Slackware-based live CD (which is no longer actively maintained), with KDE 3 as the default desktop for the i486 edition and a stripped-down KDE 4 as the desktop environment for the x86_64 flavour.
The lightweight LXDE is available as an alternative desktop environment.
Porteus is a complete linux operating system that is optimized to run from CD, USB flash drive, hard drive, or other bootable storage media. It's small (under 300Mb) and insanely fast which allows you to start up and get online while most other operating systems are left spitting dust. Porteus comes in both 32 & 64 bit and aims to keep on the bleeding edge. It also supports several different languages and the user forum has language sections.
Updates (via Distrowatch):
Porteus 1.0, a distribution created by the user community of the inactive Slax project, has been released. The 32-bit edition comes with Trinity KDE 3.5.12, while the 64-bit variant ships with KDE 4.6.4 (both flavours also include LXDE as an alternative desktop). From the release announcement: "Porteus version 1.0 has finally hit the streets. This lightweight, hard-hitting and lightning-fast portable Linux distribution is now available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. While aesthetically it is similar to Porteus v09, there have been vast improvements under the hood; the most notable change is the upgrade from LZMA to LZMA2 compression. The use of this new and far superior compression algorithm means that we have been able to pack in even more features while remaining under the 300 MB mark, with an even faster boot time!
Features: Linux kernel 188.8.131.52; userland bumped to Slackware 13.37; refined linuxrc; Porteus package manager."
Download: Porteus-v1.0-i486.iso (250MB, MD5), Porteus-v1.0-x86_64.iso (299MB, MD5).
• 2011-06-23: Distribution Release: Porteus 1.0
• 2011-05-08: Development Release: Porteus 1.0 RC2
The Porteus project started out as "Slax Remix" at the beginning of 2010 and was started as a community project using the Zen kernel to improve and update the Slax OS.
The community agreed on the new name on the project, Porteus, which was named after "'Portability' and 'Proteus'. 'Proteus' is a "Greeks god of the sea, capable of changing his form at will", according to the naming announcement on the Porteus forum. The project leader commented on the name, "I find this name as a kind of synonym of 'flexibility' adjective. We have portable (small) and flexible (modular) features included in one name: Porteus."
The Porteus 32-bit version uses KDE3 as desktop environment, whereas the 64-bit version uses the newer KDE4, including the Plasma workspace into the Porteus environment. Both versions also offer the LXDE desktop environment as a lightweight alternative.
Installing Porteus to a USB Flash Drive.
Installing Porteus through Linux is similar to installing through Windows. You must have root (super user) priveleges on your system in order to run the installation script.
*NOTE* You cannot install 64-bit Porteus from within a 32-bit linux system, nor can you install 32-bit Porteus from a 64-bit linux system (unless you are running in a 64-bit multi-lib environment). This is because syslinux and extlinux are not compiled statically and they require libraries from your running system for the installation. If this is an issue, you can burn the desired edition of Porteus to a CD and boot from the CD to perform the installation.
Before installing, you must extract or mount the .iso file in order to copy the /boot and /porteus directories to your target device. Some archiving programs are capable of extracting the .iso, or you can simply mount it with the following commands:
mount -o loop /path/to/file.iso /mnt/loop
Steps to Install:
1) Insert your flash drive. If a window automatically pops up when you plug it in, click to open the device. This will mount your flash drive and you can see it's path by opening a console and typing:
mount /dev/sdb1 /mnt/sdb1
Make note of the device's name, as this is the device which will need to be modified by a script later in the process.
2) Copy the files /boot and /porteus from the Porteus .iso file (or from a Porteus CD) to the root directory of your flash drive (meaning the files should not be placed inside any other folders on the drive. For example, they should be located at /mnt/sdb1/boot and /mnt/sdb1/porteus, assuming your flash drive is device sdb1, and is mounted at /mnt/sdb1).
3) Open a console and change directories to the boot folder that you just copied into the flash drive, e.g.
*NOTE* If you are not running as root already, you must use the su or sudo command and enter your root password before starting this script, or it will not be able to configure your device properly.
This script will bring up a menu.
5) After running the install script, you should be able to boot Porteus from your flash drive. Reboot your computer, and make sure that your BIOS is set to boot from the USB device first, before it boots to your hard disk. If you are unsure how to change the boot order in your BIOS, please see Appendix A.
*NOTE* if you are using a Porteus CD to install Porteus on a flash drive, you can use the 'Porteus-2-USB' script, located in the application menu, under System Tools. This useful script automates the installation process. It will format your flash drive into two partitions, copy the Porteus files, and make your flash drive bootable.