Quantian and other bits and pieces
As I mentioned a while back, I am testdriving Quantian, the liveCD distro for science and mathematical applications. Sadly, I had to abandon the tried and trusted Knoppix because they (unreasonably, in my view) dropped support for LaTex in their most recent releases.
So far, so good. It's derived from Knoppix (more accurately, from ClusterKnoppix) so things aren't too different. Unfortunately, Quantian stubbornly refused to detect the modem on the laptop (I tried everything short of animal sacrifices at midnight, honest!). The default desktop environment is KDE (although this can be changed), but I note with some displeasure that other lightweight desktops aren't very well represented. For instance, where the hell is Xfce? (ok, so maybe I'm biased, dammit). Still it works, and Kile is useful for the times when I get tired of a plain text editor for LaTex.
The problem with Quantian is that it not only contains LaTex, but also lots of other packages which I definitely don't need, like R (for statistical computing) and Grass (a GIS) among others. Time permitting, it would be useful to get involved in the very nice Morphix modules distribution, which allows a liveCD to be built up using different "modules", one of which of course, could be the LaTex and scientific writing module. It's quite cool to see how far the whole customizable Debian liveCD idea has been taken. There are liveCD distributions for everything from natural language processing, science and mathematics to firewalls and network security. Neat stuff.