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I'm looking for a - wait for it - Linux-compatible USB storage device. I've searched a few brand names and browsed bestbuy.com's listing, but I'm still not sure which product ...
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  1. #1
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    Linux-compatable USB Flash Drive


    I'm looking for a - wait for it - Linux-compatible USB storage device. I've searched a few brand names and browsed bestbuy.com's listing, but I'm still not sure which product I want.
    • It needs to be recognized by both Windows and Linux without installing any drivers - I mean come on, that would just defeat the purpose of having a mobile flash drive.
    • Only one or two of the brands I saw explicitly claimed to support Linux. Is it likely that I'll have problems with the others, or can I assume that they'll all work with enough coaxing?
    • Will a file created under Linux and stored on the device be transferable to Windows (and visa-versa), or would something about the partitioning prohibit that? I'm a newbie, remember, I don't know much about getting different partition formats to cooperate.
    • It should have a decent transfer speed. I read somewhere that the Cyclone devices can obtain speeds of up to 20MB/s, which sounds just insane. I guess anything faster than a CD is fine - it doesn't matter that much so long as it isn't ridiculously limiting.
    • While size isn't a huge issue, I'd prefer something that has a lanyard and wouldn't be easily crushed in my book bag. I'll buy a USB extension cord if it won't fit directly in my school's computers' ports.

    In addition to transferring files to an existing Linux box, I'd like to put a bootable live distribution on the flash drive itself. Am I correct in assuming that whether or not I can accomplish this is only dependant on the BIOS, and not the stick itself? If so, I won't worry about it until later.


    What types of flash keys have been known to work well? Is there any additional information I should research?
    \"Nifty News Fifty: When news breaks, we give you the pieces.\" - Sluggy Freelance

  2. #2
    Linux User benjamin20's Avatar
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    i dont realy know but i know that on bootup linux loads a usb file system module. i think its called usbfs or something like that. from that i always asumed that usb flash cards had there own file systems and can easily be read by all os's. i dont actualy own one but i would assume that it should work just fine.
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  3. #3
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    I imagine that all of them will work with enough coaxing though im not too sure. I shouldnt think that partitioning would prohibit that. Just make a vfat filesystem on the stick and win/ linux can read/write it. You are correct in assuming that Booting sticks is BIOS. I think only newer computers do it. I saw a stick that was meant for that. It even had its own distro. I think its name had something to do with 'medalion'.
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  4. #4
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    Most flash cards come preformated as FAT/FAT32, and that's fine since both Windows & Linux can read/write to it. In my experience, if a flashdrive didn't need drivers in Windows XP/2000, it doesn't need them in Linux either, although I've seen some that need drivers in windows but not Linux.
    As for booting from the drive: as mentioned above, this dependent on the motherboard's BIOS. If the BIOS doesn't support booting from a USB flash drive, you're out of luck.
    As for small distros, I think Damn Small Linux is about 50MB
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  5. #5
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    I keep going back to the same product listing, and their vender's homepages, and every time I get more indecisive. I've heard bad things about Lexar and Sandisk so I'll avoid those. Cyclone claims 20MB ("Fastest in the world") on one page but then admits 1.5 MB or so on another which describes the same product. PQI looks pretty good, but I'm still not settled on it.

    And to make matters more confusing, according to this review, some of the devices aren't even bootable. That's certainly a deal-breaker, unless they simply meant that the product doesn't come with the software to make it bootable.


    As for the distribution, I was thinking of either Puppy (it has a specific USB Flash version) or Damn Small. DSL will probably be better supported, but Puppy loads totally from RAM and may have a better window manager.
    \"Nifty News Fifty: When news breaks, we give you the pieces.\" - Sluggy Freelance

  6. #6
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    I have a Lexar Secure Digital Flash Jumpdrive, or something like that--some of the words have rubbed off from being in my pocket. But, anyway, it has worked on every box I've ever pluged it into. Works perfectly on my Debian Desktop, then I move it over to my Slackware Laptop--no problem. It worked when I ran Fedora Core 2. Works fine on the XP boxes at school/work. It even worked on a MAC. I guess that Win98 and below have troubles out of the box but there are drivers for them on Lexar's site. But, who would ever touch Win98 anyway?

    Note: I did have to add a line to my fstab to get the drive to mount automatically, but that is no big deal and then on my Slackware box I had the mount and umount commands to my personal account in the sudo file so that I didn't have to be root to mount the thing, but that was no big deal either.

    I've never had any trouble with files being transfered from one OS to another.

    I'm pretty sure that whether or not the jumpdrive is bootable is dependant upon the bios--but I could be wrong, maybe it is both.

  7. #7
    Linux Guru dylunio's Avatar
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    Try looking at www.linuxhardware.net for linux compatable USB storage devices;

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  8. #8
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    A USB flash drive can't have software to "make it bootable" - this is totally dependent on the BIOS of the machine. Also, the speed is dependent on two things: The system you plug it into, and the drive's interface speed.
    If you plug a drive into a USB 1.0 / 1.1 slot, it doesn't matter how fast the drive is, it's limited to USB 1.0/1.1 speeds (SLOW). Conversely, if the drive is only USB 1.0/1.1 and you plug it into a 2.0 slot, you'll still only get USB 1.1/1.0 speeds.
    USB 1.0/1.1/2.0 slots all look the same, BTW
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  9. #9
    Linux User sheds's Avatar
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    I own a SanDisk USB flash drive and it works fine, of course you have to mount it and set the basic lines in the fstab file in /etc. That's all.

  10. #10
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    I have a Sandisk 512MB it works fine on my system I plug it in and SUSE finds it and mounts it I then work with it and when I am done I just close all the windows associated with it and SUSE un mounts it and I can remove it.
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