Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
Nineteen different live CD Linux distros were tested on a laptop. Knoppix 5.3.1, SLAMPP, and Wolvix make the cut in my first round of evaluation of the best live Linux CD for 3D graphics work. Artistix and Sabayon showed some problems but get an honorable mention for the sheer quantities of graphics software available.
I've been on computers in hotels or at my in-laws, or even borrowed my wife's work laptop, and wanted to be able to tinker with my favorite computer graphics applications: povray and blender. There's no sense, for example, in going to the trouble of installing blender on my wife's computer if I were able to boot an OS from the CD which already had the applications I like on them. The point about a Linux distribution "coming with" appropriate drivers becomes poignant when a live CD won't even run your favorite application. Consider what happened when I tried to use blender with a version of edubuntu booted as a live CD.
As a result, here are the criteria I look for in choosing the best live CD distro.
Does it boot on a variety of machines?
Does it come with povray and blender?
Does it work well on a box with an ATI graphics card?
Can it render a scene in blender and/or "play" a game in blender?
Does it come with the madwifi driver for wireless cards, maybe with Flash, maybe with ATI graphics cards?
Can it recognize a USB stick? Can it play an MP3 file off the USB stick? Can it play an MPEG-I animation off the USB stick?