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I know of Slax and have 6.0.7 (I believe) and I even tried Goblinx Mini 2.7 and am going to try some of the others, but I also know they ...
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  1. #1
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    Are USB flash drives good for installing a full distro?


    I know of Slax and have 6.0.7 (I believe) and I even tried Goblinx Mini 2.7 and am going to try some of the others, but I also know they usually run in memory if there's no swap. What I'm looking for is something that I could put onto a 4 to 8g flash drive to use for learning C as well as writing programs once I learn enough, and which I could create a swap drive on the USB drive itself.

    I've read somewhere that a USB drive is unsuitable because of the constant writing to the drive damages it after long periods of use. So I was wondering if that's true only for some USB drives or all, or was it just missinformation that I read?

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    I've read somewhere that a USB drive is unsuitable because of the constant writing to the drive damages it after long periods of use. So I was wondering if that's true only for some USB drives or all, or was it just missinformation that I read?
    Now, I'm not an electrical engineer so take this with a grain of salt, but the logic gates used in solid-state drives like USB sticks can and will wear out over time. Usually that time frame is much longer than the expected life of the product, and let's face it: nowadays flash memory sticks are basically so cheap they're disposable.

    If you're going to be using this setup a lot, you might consider a liveCD/USB drive combo setup. Some LiveCDs like Knoppix will let you save only your personal data onto the stick and run the OS off the CD.

    You also have to think about access times. Your average run-of-the-mill USB stick has a seek time much slower than a traditional platter-type harddrive, plus you've got the overhead of having to transmit everything over the USB bus.

    Is there a reason this setup has to be completely portable? Are you going to be moving it between several computers regularly? What's preventing you from just installing a full distro permanently on a machine with a harddrive?
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    Thanks. I guess I'll stick with Slax then. It works great and I've already added everything I need to it, and if I run it on a fairly old computer I don't even need to use X at all.

    The basic need is to be able to use it when I'm away. If I happen to get an idea of something to program and want to test it out while I'm somewhere else, I could have a slight chance of doing so. Most of my family and places I go do not have any programming languages on their computer. Though, I guess I could always write something down in Notepad or word even and copy it over to the USB then I could try it out once I returned home. That would save me from having to reboot the computer most of the time.

    Other reason is because I'm also trying to learn how to create my own distro, and learn how to compile the kernel. Using a USB seemed it might be an easy way of testing without having to back up everything, then if something goes wrong, copy it back, then try again, copy it back...So on and so forth...

    Anyway, that helps to determine how I should use the drives. Thanks.

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    installing linux to a USB drive is kind of a novel idea more than anything. to begin with, a vast majority of the computers you will come across do not support booting from USB flash. it comes with most of the newer boards, but this is a feature i'd use best recovering older computers. to no avail. however, if you install a bootloader to the computer you want to run the flashdrive, you can add the flashdrive to the bootloader (i suggest lilo)

    also, to be slightly less technical regarding filesystems, if you were to install to a flashdrive, do not use a filesystem with journaling. unfortunately, there isn't a filesystem optimized for flashdrives, yet. XFS is what i use, but for a flashdrive, pretty much the only option is EXT2. journaling causes a lot of writes to happen to the drive in certain areas, shortening the life of the chip.

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    That's one thing I like about slax, it can be used on a windows formatted drive. However, I haven't tried it yet, but I'm going to. Right now I have the 1g USB formatted to ext2. I try to format drives on computers with 1.3ghz or less with ext2, and anything greater with ext3. When I become more acquainted with the different filesystems and what it all means I'll probably use a different method for deciding which filesystem to use., but for now I haven't had any problems so put the majority of effort in learning about the other aspects of linux.

    As for using a USB distro; I do like how Slax works best. From the boot all I have to do is type in Slax and it starts booting. Then the first thing you come to is a shell login. From there I can run startx to load X or I can stay in the terminal without having to do anything else. Much of what I do on Slax is on the terminal anyway. I've downloaded the module for vim 7.1. I've also got a few plans for remastering it and removing the KDE portion of it completely and add openbox to it without any panel.

    I do believe that since it is possible to put an iso onto a CD which cannot be written to, then it's also possible to setup Slax so that it will never write to the USB drive unless I allow it. Therefore, I should be able to slow down writing to the drive when it's not important. I've already set it up with all the modules that I could possibly need, except for replacing KDE.

    The two replies here have given me an idea to create a small partition on one of my HD's and run Slax (exactly the same as it is run from the USB) that way I can test any of the changes I will make to it without making hundreds of writes to the USB.

    Either way, I'm still a noob, only been using linux for about 3 months now, but I am still learning. Will be quite interesting to see what I know in 3 more months......

    Thanks for everyones help...

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