Instant Desktop: We All Shine On (with Presto)

OK, I admit that I generally lump hardcore Linux users in the same category as carriage drivers, pursuit hunters and Wolfram Alpha users- people who make things way harder than they have to be.  A few years ago, I installed Linux on a computer I built.  Several hellish days later, I wiped the hard drive, grabbed my shotgun and went looking for some penguins to kill.  Since then I have avoided Linux the way Cormac McCarthy avoids punctuation.

But at the same time, I get extremely impatient waiting for my various computers to load.  Generations of moths are born, live a fine moth-life and die in the time it takes my desktop to boot.  And my various laptops aren’t much faster.  It’s semi-bearable at home, but it can be a real drag (pun intended) when I’m trying to access email or the web from the road via my laptop.  Windows is never going to get within sight of the “instant on” ballpark, so I decided to look for another solution for quick access to basic laptop functions.

Guess what I settled on. . .

Linux.  In the form of Presto (here’s the FAQ).  Presto is a stripped-down Linux system designed to load quickly on just about any computer.  It installs on your Windows hard drive, just like a regular Windows program.  Once installed, when you boot your computer you have an option to boot into Windows or Presto.  Pick Presto and, presto, you have an almost instant Linux desktop.


I installed Presto on the 64 bit laptop I’m using to test Windows 7.  If I select Presto at bootup, less than 20 seconds later I have a completely loaded operating system, with immediate access to the web (via Firefox), email (via Gmail), Skype, and even Word documents (via OpenOffice).  There’s even an App Store where you can find additional software to install.


Presto costs $20.00, but the fast loading time and preinstalled applications make it worth it for the impatient traveler.  I have found that I use it even more than I thought I would.  This tells me that speed is king in the new application age.  And that the cloud will be good for alternative operating systems, and probably bad for Microsoft.

I’m never going to use Linux as a primary operating system, but for quick access to email or the web, Presto is a fine alternative.