Linux on USB Flash Drives

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Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Fri Sep 02, 2011 12:23 pm

I've gotten tired of using Linux live discs, so I've decided to setup a flash drive as a portable Linux drive. I'm going to use it for PC rescue, server testing, and a second OS for my work laptop for when I need Unix tools, so basically a regular desktop.

Does anyone have any experience this this, and what have you found out?

I'm going to need to get a flash drive since my 16GB drive fried itself when I started to try this the other day. I'm looking at the Patriot Xporter XT Rage since the reads and writes are fairly symmetrical.

Are there any other drives that might work better?

My main distro candidates are ArchBang or CrunchBang. Knoppix is a, distant, third option, but I'd rather not strip a bunch of junk out after the first install. I'm leaning towards using A!, but I need to see if will have all the packages I want without compiling from the AUR. #! should have all the packages I need, but I'm not really a Debian fan.


Patriot Xporter XT Rage
http://patriotmemory.com/products/group ... e&catid=86
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Fri Sep 02, 2011 2:37 pm

I tried doing this with Ubuntu 10.04. Really slow boot times, and doesn't boot on all systems. Yeah, Ubuntu was probably a poor choice for this, given that it is anything but lightweight... but hey, it was an experiment.

Why do you care about symmetrical read/write times? Read times are going to be the important thing, since you're not going to write to it much once you've got it set up.
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Fri Sep 02, 2011 3:34 pm

Are you gaming on that work laptop or running anything that really cares about specific hardware?

Probably not, so look at going native linux and run windows in a seamless VM. If its recent enough (VT-x helps) you won't notice a speed difference.

A more elegant solution IMO, assuming you aren't blocked by corporate policy (a properly locked down box wouldn't let you boot off anything but their image anyways)
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:41 pm

just brew it! wrote:Why do you care about symmetrical read/write times? Read times are going to be the important thing, since you're not going to write to it much once you've got it set up.


It's most similar to a regular drive. I'd rather not wait too long for updates to, and I will have to write a little bit to it. Most of the time I'll be able to mount a network share, but sometimes I won't.

Bauxite wrote:Probably not, so look at going native linux and run windows in a seamless VM. If its recent enough (VT-x helps) you won't notice a speed difference.

A more elegant solution IMO, assuming you aren't blocked by corporate policy (a properly locked down box wouldn't let you boot off anything but their image anyways)


That doesn't fit with what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to replace optical media with a flash drive. I already have several native Linux installs that I can use.

I don't have to worry about corporate policy. I have carte blanche to do this.
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:48 pm

Flatland_Spider wrote:
just brew it! wrote:Why do you care about symmetrical read/write times? Read times are going to be the important thing, since you're not going to write to it much once you've got it set up.

It's most similar to a regular drive. I'd rather not wait too long for updates to, and I will have to write a little bit to it. Most of the time I'll be able to mount a network share, but sometimes I won't.

Yeah, but you've indicated that it is a replacement for optical media, so your original use case is essentially read-only...
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Fri Sep 02, 2011 4:57 pm

I think he's getting at using this instead of a CD-RW or multiple throwaway CD-Rs, since he mentioned keeping it up-to-date.

USB stick-based means he can save his profile state also.
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:34 pm

bthylafh wrote:I think he's getting at using this instead of a CD-RW or multiple throwaway CD-Rs, since he mentioned keeping it up-to-date.

USB stick-based means he can save his profile state also.


This. :D

I'm trying to split the difference between swapping a hard drive and booting from a disc. This is probably going to be slow and fragile, but I think it will be much more convenient. I won't have to worry about a mechanical hard drive, or touching screws, and I will be able to save data and get rid of the lag CDs/DVDs have when they have after spooling down..

I looked into using a USB hard drive, but I decided it would be awkward hanging off the side of a laptop while I'm doing wireless troubleshooting.

just brew it! wrote:Yeah, but you've indicated that it is a replacement for optical media, so your original use case is essentially read-only...


I want to have my cake and eat it too. :)

I'm also hoping writing to the drive will be more robust since then advertise the high write speed. I've killed two large capacity flash drives so far, and they both failed on large writes. I was pushing 8GB of MP3s to the Sandisk drive, when it went belly up. Then I tried deleting 12GB of data from my other drive, and it gave up the ghost. I'm not hard on flash drives; I really do baby them.
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:30 am

So have you succeeded at setting up a USB drive? Or does it still fail at large files?
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:39 am

Flatland_Spider wrote:I'm also hoping writing to the drive will be more robust since then advertise the high write speed. I've killed two large capacity flash drives so far, and they both failed on large writes. I was pushing 8GB of MP3s to the Sandisk drive, when it went belly up. Then I tried deleting 12GB of data from my other drive, and it gave up the ghost. I'm not hard on flash drives; I really do baby them.

Maybe your USB port is over-volting them, and causing them to overheat when they are asked to do a lot of writes?
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Mon Oct 31, 2011 6:17 am

LostHand wrote:So have you succeeded at setting up a USB drive? Or does it still fail at large files?


I have not. I haven't had the time, but I really need to get back to this.
The Patriot drive I bought has been much more stable then the other two so far.

just brew it! wrote:Maybe your USB port is over-volting them, and causing them to overheat when they are asked to do a lot of writes?


That could very well be. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to test that. I don't remember if it was two different machines that killed the drives. I think my work desktop might have killed the off-brand 16GB, and my home desktop definitely killed the Sandisk drive. That would be pretty bad luck to get two USB drive killing desktops.
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Mon Oct 31, 2011 7:13 am

I did this a while ago with Slax. I don't know if that goes against your preference for distros, but it is SUPER easy to set up. Super easy to work on also, given its module design and ability to load them while running (and for USB, the ability to save them for the next boot)

In fact, I set up a UBCD4Win flash drive that has slax as an option, for my troubleshooting/recovery flash drive. I don't dare mess with it - I've got it working and that was hard enough!
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Mon Oct 31, 2011 8:05 am

I've had success doing this with OpenSUSE. The instructions should be on their website, sorry I can't post the link now.
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Re: Linux on USB Flash Drives

Postposted on Tue Nov 01, 2011 7:33 am

highlandr wrote:I did this a while ago with Slax. I don't know if that goes against your preference for distros, but it is SUPER easy to set up. Super easy to work on also, given its module design and ability to load them while running (and for USB, the ability to save them for the next boot)


I really like Slax. It just hasn't been updated in a while, and I'm not familiar with the package situation, does it have everything I need without having to compile stuff. I know it's based on Slackware, but can it use Slackware packages?
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