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I am currently running a Debian based distribution however would like to run an alternative LiveCD whilst I am logged in.

  1. Is that possible?
  2. How can I do so?
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The concept is known as "virtualisation", and you would run the Livecd as a guest "virtual machine".

On a Linux (like Debian) host, I suggest Virtualbox, KVM/qemu or Vmware (closed source). Xen is commonly used in more dedicated setups for production servers, as it intrudes a great deal into the host, or "physical" operating system. Bochs is a traditional solution, but it does not use modern processor features that speed up other solutions dramatically.

I'm certain at least a few of these suggestions have nice packages in the Debian repositories, so you can install them with apt.


If you just wanted to have a command line that can act like it was booted from some live disk, you might get away with just mounting the disk and everything in it's fstab under some directory and chrooting into it. You'll likely have to mount /dev, /proc and /sys as rbind from the "outer" operating system. This will in any case leave you with the kernel you originally booted, so it won't work if you need to use the same kernel as the live disk.

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Thanks. I guess I should have added in my question that I wish to avoid the use of virtual guests but appreciate your answer as I wasn't aware of KVM, Qemu and had only briefly heard of Bochs. I do however prefer the second suggestion of chrooting however as a n00b, am unaware how to do so. Would you know of a step by step guide that would give me an idea how to do so? – PeanutsMonkey Mar 21 '12 at 18:01

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