What live linux distribution is well-suited for presentations?

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My students often use the classroom projector screen to give presentations, usually using PowerPoint, but sometimes they show pre-recorded presentations in SMPlayer.

The classroom computer is sufficiently powerful, but as it uses Windows, we ran into many problems which wastes class time. Windows simply has too many problems recognizing USBs, handling viruses, displaying multimedia inside PowerPoint slides, and opening the PowerPoint files created with different versions of PowerPoint. I never have these issues on my Linux desktop computer, so I think if I ran a live Linux distribution from CD or DVD, the students could give their presentations without a glitch.

Is there any live distribution specifically designed or well-suited for presentations? This would, minimally, need to include:

  • Adobe Acrobat (for PDFs)
  • LibreOffice of similar software (for PPTs, PPTXs)
  • Music/video playback software (for as many formats as possible)
  • Web browser, with Flash plugin


There won’t be a particular distribution because the purpose is too narrow. You should look for something widely used that has relatively updated packages.

That being said, I think the idea that you’ll have better luck opening PPTs with LibreOffice than Microsoft Office is questionable.

Your best bet is to set standards for each presentation. For example, require PDFs for slides and a certain, common file format for audio and videos, etc.

Another option is to require an online presentation software. You can then require each student test their presentation with a certain browser which you use in the classroom. Tis approach would take most of the technicals out of your hands and you’d only have to worry about having a modern web browser.

Tom D

Archlinux makes it fairly easy to roll out your own LiveCD, which you can configure to contain exactly what you need. Check out https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Archiso


Fedora makes it easy to create a LiveCD tailored to taste.


I use Linux Mint 13 LTS Cinnamon edition as in my laptop, for pretty much everything, including preesntations.

For your requirements:

  • The default pdf reader is evince: simple and effective.
  • It comes with LibreOffice installed. I usually have troubles with presentations created in MS PowerPoint (layouts, videos, sounds, templates), so my choice was install MS PowerPoint 2007 with PlayOnLinux (the installation is straightforward).
  • Multimedia codecs are already installed, so it works just fine.
  • The default browser is Firefox, flash is widely supported. I personally prefer Google Chrome, also fine for flash.


PCLinuxOS is another solid choice for use as a presentation distro. It comes with the following applications:

  • VLC
  • LibreOffice
  • Firefox
  • Flash
  • PDF Reader

The list goes on and on of what it can do. The download is 1.6GB, and the windowing environment is KDE.


Here’s some screenshots of it in action, as I put it through it’s paces.

main menu

ss of main menu

LibreOffice’s Impress for presentations

ss of impress

Firefox with Flash plugin

ff w/ flash

Firefox playing back youtube video

ff w/ video

Firefox with built-in PDF Reader & standalone PDF Reader

ff w/ pdf

Opening sample PowerPoint File (.ppt)

ppt #1

ppt #2

Mounting a USB Flash Drive

usb fd #1

usb fd #2


I recommend Lubuntu 13.04.
Review: here
More info: here

I’ve been using Lubuntu for two years now and it’s the best OS I’ve ever encountered. The 13.04 offers a large speed improvement over 11.04, and 11.04 was already fast.

It’s pretty much bug free by now and you can install all the same stuff as on Ubuntu. Its good for presentations as well.

I would give Cr OS Linux a try. Looking at it’s list of features it seems to cover everything that you’re looking for.

Featured software in the latest Cr OS Linux:

  • Linux kernel 3.6.5
  • Cinnamon 1.6.6 desktop environment
  • Chromium 24.0.1290 web browser
  • InSync beta 10 client for Google Drive
  • Banshee 2.4 media player
  • Shotwell 0.12 photo manager
  • GIMP 2.8 image editor
  • LibreOffice 3.5 office suite
  • Wine 1.5 Windows emulator
  • Cheese 3.4 webcam app
  • Pidgin 2.10 instant messenger
  • Dashboard with the social toolbar
  • Control Center
  • and much more!

The Chromium web browser (opensource version of Chrome) comes with Flash support, most of the other LiveCD/LiveDVDs seemed like you had to install them and then install Flash which didn’t meet your requirement of running completely from the CD/DVD.

Your question for the perfect live-distribution might be a bit misleading.

As far as I know there are no out-of-the-box distributions live cds with all your needs. This is mainly due to licensing issues. For example delivering an iso with adobe flash included will be a problem.

What you are looking for is some way to create your own live cd as of your taste. Most of the common linux distributions offer ways to create own, customized live images. Let’s have a look:

  • Debian offers the Live System project.
  • Ubuntu offers a good documentation on how to create customized live cds.
  • ArchLinux custom iso creation is also well documented, but it is no simple workthrough.
  • Gentoo will be my personal recommendation. This might be the most complex distribution. but you will have latest software packages available and the most options of customization. If you prefer a binary distribution you can use Sabayon which is based on Gentoo and offers packages to create custom live cds.
  • If Gentoo is not complicated enough, you can build your own Linux from scratch. This way you will only have packages you really desire and need.

If you are looking for graphical tools for creating live cds have a look at:

  • Fedora’s Revisorenables you to customize and compose your own Fedora based installation and live media.
  • Suse’s Studiocan build SUSE live cds from your browser in just a few clicks.
  • Ubuntu’s Customization Kitis a tool that helps you customizing official Ubuntu Live CDs to your needs.

For further reading, have a look at this question over at stackoverflow: Building a custom Linux Live CD – Or this blog post: How to Create Custom Linux Live CD/USB


What live linux distribution is well-suited for presentations?
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