Is it the end of the road for LiveCDs?

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http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/it_end_road_live_cds

No. I don’t think so!

The price of recordable DVDs is now under $0.22 each That’s roughly 60 times cheaper than the current price for equivalent-size pen drives and more than 25 times the cost of the cheapest pen drives now being sold.  And at most trade shows even the more expensive form, the credit card/business card format is being handed out like candy.
Yes, USB sticks are being handed out too, but not so eagerly.

Until pendrives can get Blank-DVD-level cheap — maybe inevitable, but not at least for five years or so — it will be cheaper to pass around bootable DVD media than bootable pen drives.   Right now the USB-as-demo works fine so long as you hang around for the demo but is useless for a “try it on your own time” leave-behind (unless you like spending that kind of money for leave-behind, which may work for a reseller but not volunteer advocates).

All media is on a price curve. Its not the price of blank CDs/DVDs that counts, its that they can be printed. Yes, I can download and burn onto a blank, but if I’m in business I’ll get 10,000 printed and silk screened, and because of the way printing works the set-up is amortized over volume and that can never be approached by pen drives.

This was the same economics that meant a cassette tape album was often more expensive than a vinyl one and the CD was even cheaper!

You know all this … But its the price CURVES that are interesting. Blank CDs/DVDs are comparable to blank pen drives, so the price curves CAN be compared. CDs are ahead (in time) and the question is will their price bottom out as the cost of memory falls?

The falling cost of system memory makes the slow speed of LiveCD irrelevant. The $2,000 high end laptop of three years ago now costs under $700 and has 3G or 4G of memory rather then 1/2G. The compressed file system is loaded into memory and the dual (quad?) core CPU running 50% faster (3GHz rather than 2GHz) is so fast that this actually beats out installing on the hard drive!

No, the LiveCD isn’t going away any time soon!

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Anton Aylward

Security Evangelist

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