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Hi! My question is in two parts: First, does a live USB with persistence make for a good OS? Can it be used as my main OS without significant issues? ...
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  1. #1
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    What is the Usability of a Live USB with Persistence?


    Hi! My question is in two parts:

    First, does a live USB with persistence make for a good OS? Can it be used as my main OS without significant issues? I expect it wont be suitable for large footprint software and files due to small size, but I imagine I could do word processing, web browsing, programming, and games that are not gargantuan.

    This second part is why I started a thread in this section. I can probably find instructions for this but I first searched for the previous question and did not find anything so I decided to ask this as well since I would be making a thread here anyway.
    How would I go about installing such an operating system? I have been using Ubuntu but am planning to move to another OS, probably Debian but lightweight distros such as Slitaz are good. Whichever is best for such a project. (I will most likely have an OS installed on my harddrive as well. The live USB is for portability so that I don't need to carry my laptop everywhere. It is also an experiment to see how well it works out.)
    Last edited by Silhalnor; 08-15-2012 at 11:50 PM. Reason: Correcting typos and improving wording.

  2. #2
    oz
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    Hello and welcome!

    You can find lots of options for doing all that here:

    Boot and run Linux from a USB flash memory stick | USB Pen Drive Linux
    oz

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    Thanks!
    Doesn't seem to address my first question though. I guess I will find out how good it is for regular use on my own though.

    There seems to be a problem however. I am reading the tutorial "Install Debian Live to a Flash Drive from Windows". (Looks like almost none of the instructions are Windows specific so I expect to be able to do it just fine from Ubuntu. If not, there is a Windows computer in the house I can use.)
    I was planning on using Debian but it looks like there is no cross-architecture version of the OS. (Which I expect would double the filesize? That is certainly a disadvantage here, assuming it even exists.) It supports AMD64 and i386 separately. i386 is Intel's line of microprocessors, correct? My laptop uses an AMD64 processor and the college computers I expect to be using this with are, I think, Intel. I will double check that next time I am on campus though.

    Is there a recommended solution to this dillemma? Barring some kind of cross-architectural OS (which would be preferable, maybe) I am wondering if maybe I could synchronize the persistent data on the flash drive with the data on my laptop, but I have no idea what format the persistent data is stored as. Is it just a subdirectory? Is it compressed or encrypted? Is it stored in some sort of container file I've never heard of before? Synchronization is something I will want to do anyway but with this concept I would have to synchronize constantly because the live USB can't be my main OS. And if it happens to be stored in a file I am not familiar with then I may not be able to write a script or do it manually.

    For now I will make (or attempt to make) a live USB and experiment. I will report my results. In the meantime does anyone know of an alternative solution, such as a cross-architecture distro? That almost sounds like black magic to me actually (machine code that can run on different instruction sets?) but I do seem to remember seeing such a thing somewhere. I noticed that it's filesize was nearly double that of the single architecture versions so presumably they simply packed both versions on there and somehow made some bootstrap code that would work on either architecture. I would be interested in seeing that code and what they had to sacrifice to produce it. Perhaps it can be applied to debian?

  4. #4
    Linux Guru rokytnji's Avatar
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    Just use a 32 bit image for pendrive. I run persistent pendrives in 32 bit and they work just fine on my 64 bit computers and legacy computers also.

    i386 or i686 is just fine. I also use a i486 distro with a 3.5 kernel on pendrive andit boots and works OK on my 64bit computers (with persistence)

    Also. Any Ubuntu or Mint Linux can be made with persistence.
    Fedora also. I prefer Puppy Linux because I can make numerous personal save files
    between computers on the flash drive.
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    My concern was AMD and Intel, not 32 and 64 bit. Good point all the same though.

    I ended up using Ubuntu's Startup Disk Creator and 12.04 i386 iso to create a persistent LiveUSB. Seems to work well, my main complaint is the startup time. Is there anything I can do to shorten the boot time?

    I was able to identify the persistent file as casper-rw and opened it in a hex editor. I was able to locate an Abiword document I made and, after some research, mount the file. Trying to open the abiword document from the mounted casper-rw file consistently fails however... I don't know what that is about.
    Here is the site I learned how to mount it from.
    [Edit:] Oh, uh, I can't post URLs yet. The thread is called "Casper-rw -- How to Access".

    Just in case someone in the future finds this thread but the link is dead (it has happened to me a number of times at least) here are the actual commands to mount casper-rw.
    sudo mkdir /media/casper
    sudo mount -o loop casper-rw /media/casper/

    I am amused that I now have mounted media that is mounted from within a mounted micro SD card.
    Bootime is very long though... I ended up reading some articles while I waited. If I can't shorten the time I may try another distro, maybe Puppy that rokytnji suggested. Or perhaps TinyCore, I had tried out that distro several weeks ago, I couldn't figure out how to replace the desktop environment though.

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    Code:
    System:    Host: puppypc11503 Kernel: 3.2.18 i686 (32 bit, gcc: 4.6.3) 
               Desktop: Enlightenment 0.16.999.71440 Distro: macpup Linux
    Linux 3.2.18 [i686 arch]
    Machine:   System: Acer (portable) product: AOA150 version: 1
               Mobo: Acer model: N/A Bios: Acer version: v0.3305 date: 05/09/2008
    CPU:       Single core (Intel Atom CPU N270,1600.00,512 KB,fpu vme de tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe nx constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts aperfmperf pni dtes64 monitor ds_cpl est tm2 ssse3 xtpr pdcm movbe lahf_lm dts,3193.80,intel) (-HT-) cache: unknown  flags: (-) bmips: Not Available 
               Clock Speeds: 1: 1600.00 MHz 2: 800.00 MHz
    Graphics:  Card: Intel Mobile 945GSE Express Integrated Graphics Controller bus-ID: 00:02.0 
               X.org: 1.11.3 drivers: intel (unloaded: fbdev,vesa) tty size: 80x24 Advanced Data: N/A for root 
    Audio:     Card: Intel N10/ICH 7 Family High Definition Audio Controller driver: snd_hda_intel bus-ID: 00:1b.0
               Sound: Advanced Linux Sound Architecture ver: 1.0.24
    Network:   Card-1: Realtek RTL8101E/RTL8102E PCI Express Fast Ethernet controller 
               driver: r8169 ver: 2.3LK-NAPI port: 3000 bus-ID: 02:00.0
               IF: eth0 state: down mac: <filter>
               Card-2: Atheros AR242x / AR542x Wireless Network Adapter (PCI-Express) driver: ath5k bus-ID: 03:00.0
               IF: wlan0 state: up mac: <filter>
    Drives:    HDD Total Size: (164.1GB,-) () 1: id: /dev/sda model: WDC_WD1600BEVT size: 160.0GB 
               2: id: /dev/sdb model: Card_Reader size: 4.1GB 
    Partition: ID: swap-1 size: 2.11GB used: 0.00GB (0%) fs: swap 
    RAID:      No RAID devices detected - /proc/mdstat and md_mod kernel raid module present
    Sensors:   None detected - is lm-sensors installed and configured?
    Info:      Processes: 66 Uptime: 7 min Memory: 109.8/996.6MB Runlevel: 5 Gcc sys: N/A Client: Shell inxi: 1.8.14
    This is a not released yet version of Macpup 529. Based on Ubuntu Precise (12.04) . Runs E17 Window manager. Posting this wirelessly from
    a Acer Aspire One ZG5. Running it off of a 4 gig external class 4 SD card in a usb to sd adapter (bios does not support sd internal slot boot).

    I have not made any save files yet because I am testing this for the Macpup developer across my other hardware/computers and am reporting what works back to him.

    Boot times are gonna be slow on USB. Reason being. Usb read and writes are slow. USB ports choke data transfer (except for usb 3.0 maybe). Plus Ubuntu loads a lot of start up programs at boot up.

    TCZ Repository - Tiny Core Linux

    2011/09/23 bmarkus Panel for Xfce4 4.8.6 28.7 K xfce4-panel-dev.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/23 bmarkus Panel for Xfce4 4.8.6 405.5 K xfce4-panel-doc.tcz info list md5
    2011/09/23 bmarkus Panel for Xfce4 4.8.6 499.7 K xfce4-panel-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/23 bmarkus Panel for Xfce4 4.8.6 438.3 K xfce4-panel.tcz info list md5 dep
    2009/12/28 Arslan S. Power manager of Xfce4 desktop.(TESTING) 0.8.4.2 131.1 K xfce4-power-manager-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2009/12/28 Arslan S. Power manager of Xfce4 desktop.(TESTING) 0.8.4.2 643.1 K xfce4-power-manager.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/02/05 bmarkus Screen capture for Xfce4 1.7.9 540.7 K xfce4-screenshooter-doc.tcz info list md5
    2011/02/05 bmarkus Screen capture for Xfce4 1.7.9 118.8 K xfce4-screenshooter-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/02/05 bmarkus Screen capture for Xfce4 1.7.9 102.4 K xfce4-screenshooter.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/15 bmarkus Session manager for Xfce4 4.8.2 4.1 K xfce4-session-dev.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/15 bmarkus Session manager for Xfce4 4.8.2 348.2 K xfce4-session-doc.tcz info list md5
    2011/09/15 bmarkus Session manager for Xfce4 4.8.2 446.5 K xfce4-session-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/15 bmarkus Session manager for Xfce4 4.8.2 512.0 K xfce4-session.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/23 bmarkus Tools for Xfce4 settings 4.8.4 413.7 K xfce4-settings-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/23 bmarkus Tools for Xfce4 settings 4.8.3 151.6 K xfce4-settings.tcz info list md5 dep
    2009/12/30 Arslan S. Task manager of Xfce4 desktop.(TESTING) svn 2009/12/29 36.9 K xfce4-taskmanager-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2009/12/30 Arslan S. Task manager of Xfce4 desktop.(TESTING) svn 2009/12/29 16.4 K xfce4-taskmanager.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/02/04 bmarkus Loads Xfce4 core components and sets up TC specific environment 4.8a 8.2 K Xfce4.tcz info list md5 dep
    2010/06/15 bmarkus Weather plugin for Xfce4 0.7.3 155.6 K xfce4-weather-plugin-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2010/06/15 bmarkus Weather plugin for Xfce4 0.7.3 282.6 K xfce4-weather-plugin.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/23 bmarkus Utilities for Xfce4 4.8.3 454.7 K xfce-utils-doc.tcz info list md5
    2011/09/23 bmarkus Utilities for Xfce4 4.8.3 184.3 K xfce-utils-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/23 bmarkus Utilities for Xfce4 4.8.3 73.7 K xfce-utils.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/02/02 bmarkus Configuration system for Xfce4 4.8.0 8.2 K xfconf-dev.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/02/02 bmarkus Configuration system for Xfce4 4.8.0 61.4 K xfconf-doc.tcz info list md5
    2011/02/02 bmarkus Configuration system for Xfce4 4.8.0 122.9 K xfconf-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/02/02 bmarkus Configuration system for Xfce4 4.8.0 61.4 K xfconf.tcz info list md5 dep
    2010/06/18 bmarkus Desktop manager for Xfce4 4.6.2 8.2 K xfdesktop-dev.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/13 bmarkus Desktop manager for Xfce4 4.8.3 749.6 K xfdesktop-doc.tcz info list md5
    2011/09/13 bmarkus Desktop manager for Xfce4 4.8.3 303.1 K xfdesktop-locale.tcz info list md5 dep
    2011/09/13 bmarkus Desktop manager for Xfce4 4.8.3 1.2 M xfdesktop.tcz info list md5 dep
    Should pretty much cover

    Or perhaps TinyCore, I had tried out that distro several weeks ago, I couldn't figure out how to replace the desktop environment though.
    For a xfce version of Puppy. I might recommend

    http://saluki-linux.com/

    The main developer, jemimah, is a well respected female programmer in the Puppy Linux Community.

    Another One I like based on Open Box and Tint2 panels

    Puppy Linux Discussion Forum :: View topic - Diamond

    It comes with a lot of tools.
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    Thanks, I opted for Saluki. I tried it out for a while and it looks good and boots far faster than the Ubuntu LiveUSB (or Live CD for that matter). I also checked the repositories for a couple of applications that I will be needing and it has them though Firefox seems to be an older version, 10 something I think. I don't know what package system Saluki or Puppy use but maybe I can download a more recent version of Firefox from their website.
    The fact that persistence is apparently a builtin feature is very nice, it allows me to feel sure that it will work well. Is that why you suggested Puppy and three branches of it?

    I chose Saluki over Macpup and Diamond because of the desktop environment but that feels arbitrary to me. After all, I can just install a different one. I've never done it before but I expect it isn't terribly difficult. How does one go about comparing two or more distros anyway? Unless some distros have non-portable features I could just make any distro look and feel like any other by uninstalling and installing the right software. I might start a new thread for that question.

    Is the builtin persistence feature a single piece of software that I could install on another distro or is it non-portable somehow?

  8. #8
    Linux Guru rokytnji's Avatar
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    To make it easy on you..


    Puppy Google Search

    Is the builtin persistence feature a single piece of software that I could install on another distro or is it non-portable somehow?
    No and Yes I guess. The save file is a squash file (.sfs) which is pretty much a Puppy Linux thing. But I guess if you have the skill set. You can do this in other Linux distros.

    PuppyLinux: Squashfs

    http://squashfs.sourceforge.net/

    PDF explaining squashfs
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  9. #9
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    Thanks for that information.

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