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  1. #1

    "My whole personal computer" on just an external hard drive?

    The idea is simple.

    I like to have a computer that I can take anywhere with me, run it at any place that has power and internet. Everything on the computer is the way I left it every time, it has all the programs that I use, all the music I listen to, all the private stuff that I'd prefer noone else saw. My own personal computer that I can take with me anywhere.

    That's called a laptop, right? Yeah, I have it.

    But I'd like to take the convenience even a bit further. At any place that already has a functioning computer, I would like to have ALL of that without having to carry a whole laptop with me, but only at most a couple of hundred grams that fits into the pocket of my coat.

    I take it that moving the whole thing to the cloud is not there yet. It will be one day, hopefully soon, but not yet.

    But how about external USB hard drive (I think flash stick is a bit too small)?

    Well, I see a bunch of Linux distributions (Puppy Linux, Damn Small Linux) that claim to be able to do exactly that.

    And I am wondering... is this actually true? Will it REALLY work? I presume I won't be able to play full-blown computer games and thankfully I don't need that. But all the other things? Is it really possible that I can just connect an external hard drive to a random computer and it will boot up reasonably fast time in 90% of cases and it will work just as well as having my laptop with me in 90% of cases, except a bit slower? No rampant compatibility issues, no huge amount of time wasted trying to get the stupid thing to work... In general, can I really honestly achieve "just as if I had carried my own physical personal computer here" by carrying around just an external hard drive?

    (I would have two external hard drives, one in use and the other a backup of this, updated every week or whatever.)

    (I have never used Linux.)

  2. #2
    Penguin of trust elija's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Either at home or at work or down the pub
    Well, if you have a bit of cash (they are not cheap) you can get 32, 64, 128 or even 256GB flash drives now and any of those would be very much big enough for a persistent bootable key. I have a mere 8GB on mine; not that I use it for much as I haven't had any emergencies. Here's hoping I haven't jinxed stuff
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  3. #3
    Administrator jayd512's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Hello there, and welcome aboard!

    To add just a touch to what elija said, most mainstream distros (Ubintu, Mint, etc.) only reuire about 5 to 7 GB to do a full install, so I usually give it a minimum of 10.
    That said, a 16 GB stick will do you quite nicely if you don't happen to have a 32. Full install, room to rip a movie or 2 along with a few CDs. Sounds like a good travel companion to me

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  5. #4
    And on the lighter side. My 2 4gig AntiX 11 Base I686 persistent and MacPup 528 usb drives boot on any computer I have tried them on so far.

    The AntiX one needs no boot cheat codes. The core partition is a live session on every boot with just a persistent partition to save changes . I have booted it on all types of Laptops and Desktops.

    On the Macpup one. I have to boot the pfix=ram option on any new computer, (I installed grub4dos in Macpup usb to overwrite Unetbootin bootloader to have this feature in boot menu), to keep personal save files from other computers that are on the usb drive from loading. I have booted it on all types of Laptops and Desktops also.
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  6. #5
    Linux Enthusiast sgosnell's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Baja Oklahoma
    Yes, you can do a full install to a flash drive, and run whatever you want. I have Debian on a 16GB SDHC card, which I can use on any computer that allows booting from USB. I have a card reader for those that don't have an SD slot, but my main use for it is on a netbook which came with WindowsXP on the SSD, which is only 8GB in size. I opted to keep the Windows SSD intact, just in case I ever need to use Windows (gag), and run Linux from the SD slot. It runs fine, and it's almost as fast as the relatively slow SSD, and faster than Windows. Do not use a "persistent live USB" install, do a full installation of your chosen Linux distro, and you can carry your stuff in your pocket. For your use, a USB drive is probably a better choice than an SDHC, because it's cheaper and more universal. I prefer the SDHC because it doesn't stick out of the netbook, but that may not be important to you.

  7. #6
    Linux Guru Rubberman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    I can be found either 40 miles west of Chicago, in Chicago, or in a galaxy far, far away.
    All these are good suggestions. Myself, I use a class 10 (150x) 32GB sdhc card in a USB carrier (looks like a thumb drive). If you need more space for your music and stuff, just get another carrier and one or more sdhc cards. I just got two 32GB class 10 cards for a bit more than $1USD per GB. I think I paid $72USD for the two of them (lifetime warranty). The carriers cost about $5 each.
    Sometimes, real fast is almost as good as real time.
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