[Edu-sig] Bootable Python CDs?

Douglas S. Blank dblank at brynmawr.edu
Thu Apr 27 02:16:47 CEST 2006

On Wed, 2006-04-26 at 19:05 -0400, Paul D. Fernhout wrote:
> I previously wrote:
> > Then you would have a custom Python which would be useful for wandering 
> > faculty (assuming the admins let you reboot the machine, and it was 
> > configured to allowing booting from removable media).
> I just noticed this:
>     http://wiki.python.org/moin/PythonCd
> "Welcome to your Python CD! This is a bootable CD based on [Debian 
> GNU/Linux and KNOPPIX. The special thing about it is that it has lots of 
> Python stuff!"
> Anyone used it?
> I'm curious: is it even practical to expect to walk into most modern 
> educational computer lab in a typical school and expect to be able to 
> reboot all the computers to run from your own Python CD? Do people's 
> school computer labs typically allow a boot from removable media?

I haven't used this CD, but we do have a similar disk with all of our
Python-based robotics stuff here:


including a Python-based wrapper on a 3D simulator (Gazebo) that you can
control from Python. You can drive a helicopter from Python! How cool is

It is very practical to turn a regular lab of Windows machines into a
lab of Linux machines (as long as they don't have the "boot from CD"
locked down with a BIOS password, which they might. You can mount any
disk and fiddle with it, so there are some security issues here.). Do
note that you need to have a CD for each machine, as it reads from the
CD as it needs to. This also makes it a little slower on the start-up.
If your machines have good RAM and CD-ROM drives, you'll barely notice

These disks are great for giving tutorials at workshops and conferences,
and very nice to have so students can do their work at home.


> I know it was quite possible to boot your own stuff when I ran an 
> educational computer lab (or rather, impossible to stop. with those 
> motherboards) but that was a long time ago (back in the days of 5-1/4 and 
> Token Ring). I don't know what typical admin policies would be now. But 
> todays' motherboards seem much more likely to have an option for picking 
> the boot medium on reboot (but also more options to disable media booting 
> which you would need to get into the BIOS settings to change).
> --Paul Fernhout
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Douglas S. Blank       Computer Science
Assistant Professor    Bryn Mawr College
(610)526-6501          http://cs.brynmawr.edu/~dblank

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