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Will booting linux (slitaz) from my USB drive damage my original OS (windows vista)?

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Not at all, unless you tell the linux distro to install to your hard drive. If you are simply running from USB, you should be fine. Just don't install or do anything to your hard drive.

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Everything is stored in the RAM (if the usb-distribution is done properly), and thus not affecting anything of your hard-drive OS, unless you (as Drake says) install application to the hard drive, or edit/delete files on the hard drive yourself, as RAMs are volatile memory (meaning that data is lost when power is off) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volatile%5Fmemory

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If you are booting from a live cd version your hard drive should be fine.

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The OP is booting from a USB drive, not a CD. – bwDraco Jul 10 '12 at 0:43

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