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Hello I'd like to build a compact x86 host running off a CompactFlash or some equivalent solid-state memory instead of from a SATA disk, to reduce the risk of failure ...
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  1. #1
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    Question x86 distro running from solid-state memory?


    Hello

    I'd like to build a compact x86 host running off a CompactFlash or some equivalent solid-state memory instead of from a SATA disk, to reduce the risk of failure once they're deployed at customers' premises.
    Those are SOHO users, so performance is not an issue, but stability is (The less I have to drive to replace faulty hardware and restore data, the better.)

    Do you know if the usual suspects (Ubuntu, CentOS, Gentoo, etc.) can easily be made to run from solid-state memory, and if yes, is there some good documentation to customize them thusly?

    I assume it's just a matter of tweaking /etc/fstab, but it could be more involved.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
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    I run various distributions from SD and USB devices all the time. The main thing you need to be concerned with is the write-cycle limitations of these devices. You definitely don't want to put swap on a solid-state device (other than REALLY expensive single-level cell devices). Ditto other frequently written devices. You also probably want to mount your writable partitions (some can be read-only) with the no-sync option so that writes are cached and multiple changes to the same block can be written only once, again helping with the longevity of the device. You also might want to disable the system from updating access times on files/directories for the same reason.

    So, solid state as it exists today is good for read-mostly, write-occasionally operations. As long as you keep that in mind and configure the system appropriately, you should be just fine. FWIW, I use an SD card to run some embedded systems I work with, and they are running a full Debian Etch OS.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
    Just remember, Semper Gumbi - always be flexible!

  3. #3
    oz
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlebigman View Post
    I assume it's just a matter of tweaking /etc/fstab, but it could be more involved.
    I recently installed one of these on my box and so far it's working great. The OCZ forums have more documentation than you'd probably care to read on setting them up. I ended up putting only root and home on the SSD and I put the packages cache, data, and swap all on a standard drive. I have lots of RAM and could have done without the swap partition altogether but hard drive space is plentiful so I went ahead and set one up. I considered moving /home to the standard drive as well, but I really wanted to keep it on the SSD in order to benefit from the speed gain. I am also writing /var/log and /tmp to RAM, but otherwise I'm using the SSD for pretty much everything.

    This particular model has native TRIM support built in and with the right kernel in place, there isn't supposed to be much maintenance required by the end user.
    oz

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  5. #4
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    Thanks guys for the feedback. SSD's are a bit pricey for what I have in mind, so I'll probably investigate cheaper alternatives.

  6. #5
    oz
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    If you get the SD setup working properly, I'd be interested in hearing how you configured it and how it's all working out for you, if you don't mind posting back.
    oz

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    Sure. I'm still checking my options, between building a (more expensive) full-fledged x86 mini-ITX, or using some (cheaper, smaller) non-x86 embedded appliance.

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    Linux Newbie theNbomr's Avatar
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    Have you looked at SLAX? It comes ready for installation on USB pendrives. Also see pendrivelinux.com
    --- rod.
    Stuff happens. Then stays happened.

  9. #8
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    Thanks for the tip. I'll give Slax a try.

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