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  1. #1

    Help choosing distro for persistent USB install

    Hi there

    I want a Linux distro that I can install to USB stick with persistence - i.e. the ability to make changes to the OS which stay for next boot: package management and changing settings etc...

    I have an 8Gb USB stick so size is not so much of an issue, but I want the OS to be fast. I've been using Puppy for the past few months, and a week or so ago I booted into Fedora XFCE and found that too slow by comparison.

    Here is my criteria:-

    1. Speed & Power. I want something AT LEAST 80% of the speed of Slacko 5.3. I want a file manager that opens folders instantaneously. The PCs I will be using my portable USB install on will all have at least 3Gb RAM and be quad cores, and I want to be able to run Libre Office, VLC, Chromium and Full Tilt Poker through Wine simultaneously with no problems.

    2. Stability. Much as it saddens me, Puppy is not as stable as I want it to be. With Slacko I experience X server crashes, with 5.4 I have big problems with the RAM-to-savefile process, and with NTFS permissions. I've not yet found any OS that is bug free, and this is the main reason I've distro-hopped so much in the last 18 months, but for me I simply won't use an OS once I've encountered a problem with it that is not easily solvable by searching on forums, and/or using my intuition.

    3. Packages. I need to be able to run VLC, a Jabber client, Skype, a Torrent client that can handle magnet links (and integrate with the file manager), Libre Office, Wine, Calibre and GIMP. I may in the future want the ability to install other things, but those are the most important. I don't really fully understand packaging systems, and have good and bad things to say about DEB-based systems, RPMs, PETS and the like. One thing I will say is that the distro needs to have an easy way of installing stuff because installing from source sucks balls.

    4. Ease of installation. There is no good me considering a distro that can do all of the above if there is no easy way of me putting it onto the USB. With Puppy, I run the live CD and use the Bootflash app to install the OS to the USB disk. With Fedora Live-USB creator, for example, one has to have a running Fedora install (not Live) to be able to put the ISO onto a USB. Even then, I've not fully explored whether persistence works properly on this.

    Any suggestions would be most welcome. Some I know about and will try are: Bodhi, AntiX, Lubuntu, Crunchbang, Peppermint, Slitaz. Anyone with experience of a persistent USB install of any of these, or any other suitable distro, I would love to hear your thoughts.



    [EDIT: I should say that I don't care so much about how the OS looks, as long as its not uglier than Puppy. It doesn't have to look like Gnome Shell ]

  2. #2
    Hello and welcome,

    Have you given straight Debian a whirl? See this tutorial on it, there is a mention there for persistence.

  3. #3
    Yes I tried Debian 'Stable' earlier in the year after I experienced bugs in Ubuntu 12.04, but I found Debian 'Stable' to be just about the least stable thing I ever saw. It barely installed, and then almost nothing worked, and everytime I tried to solve a problem, the system crashed fatally. I wouldn't go near Debian 'Stable' again in a hurry.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    well, not a glowing review of Pendrive Debian ;)

    The only one I've tried personally is Puppy Linux, and it worked well enough for me. Puppy may be hard to beat, in the speed category.

    The lightweight distro Damn Small Linux has recently made a comeback, and their Wiki makes mention of persistence, so maybe it is worth a look.

  6. #5
    I haven't ran a frugal AntiX install on pendrive in a while. I think AntiX11 was the last release I ran a persistent live sd flash card. Things have changed though for AntiX ( from version 11 to now 12.
    All the criteria for chat and vlc and libreoffice and torrent are met though.

    Since I haven't done this with AntiX 12. I don't know if my how to still applies (it may not according to release notes)
    Known issues:
    Use to install to usb not antix2usb gui application.
    But that was said in 07 August 2012 and Anti and Dave might have fixed
    the issue or not. I don't know yet because I am testing 64bit internal install of AntiX instead. I don't think that issue is fixed though reading the main page.

    . Always md5sum check downloaded isos before running live or installers.

    antiX-forum - View topic - Antix 11 antix2usb persistent|Outdated how to from me for AntiX 11

    antiX-forum - View topic - How to use the script to install 'live' to usb

    Good luck with it.
    I refuse to let fear and fear of others rule my life. It puts my humanity at risk.
    Accepting Death is the only way to stay alive.

  7. #6
    Thanks. I will give AntiX a whirl this afternoon.

    One other thing that occurred to me is a question about USB installs and memory. Do all USB installs copy themselves into RAM when you boot, or do some keep reading and writing more often? Cuz if its the latter, its gonna knacker the USB stick faster and be a lot slower.

  8. #7
    I believe that was how Puppy was set up the last time I used it. There is a list up here, although the best thing to do would be to research the distro in question and of course, just giving it a go. once you are booted up, a quick "df" will tell you much.

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