"Netbooks represent a kind of evolutionary convergence
of all these trends. These miniature marvels have many features but
the defining one is surely the most obvious one. Size. When weight,
size and cost are at a premium, fitting optical drives becomes
problematical (especially if a conventional hard drive has been
fitted in preference to SSDs, reducing space further). That means,
to state the obvious, that installing other distros on these
machines will require the purloining of an external optical drive.
The final leap has now been made with the arrival of bootable USB
sticks with persistence thanks to the tools bundled with Ubuntu
8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) and Fedora 9 and stand-alone applications like
Unetbootin--all of which I touched on in my last article on Ubuntu.
Prior to these GUIs, getting a flash to run as a bootable device
was not for complete novices or the faint of heart with a phobia
about the command line, but if you were bold Pendrivelinux was
always there to hold your hand."