Just a follow up. I have him running zen mini from a live usb stick now. Everything worked on his netbook. When he gets a bigger stick we'll see if we can get it installed so he can begin using it fully. thanks
The liveUSB stick should be good for use on any hardware, not just his present PC.
A full install is rather more tied to particular hardware, although it can be portable to a great extent, but the user may need to know how to overcome some difficulties that may arise.
Flash sticks are not really designed for full installs - although they have improved greatly in the last few years in this respect.
There are limitations on the numbers of writes to any particular location ...... but with a correct setup (ensuring there are no unnecessary writes to the device) I can see no reason such sticks would not last years. Unfortunately unbranded flash sticks may not be as good in this respect as those that are guaranteed to have passed some QC tests.
Nonetheless flash sticks are cheap these days .....
Glad you got sorted