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newbiesforever 02-19-2013 12:25 PM

how reliable are USB installations?
 
I've given more consideration to trying a USB installation of my distro (or another distro, if mine won't work on a stick for any reason) since the last time I heard someone speak well of USB installations. How well do they work? Are they as reliable as running a distro off the hard drive?

I've never really taken the option of USB installations seriously because I could figure out the obvious--that flash drives surely can't be a substitute for hard drives in most cases.

Kustom42 02-19-2013 01:03 PM

I have production ESXi systems running off of usb drives. Just make sure it is quality usb drive, they work great now.

Incase anyone is curios as to why ESXi is running on USB, I installed nexenta on the primary drive and am presenting the local storage to the USB ESXi install as a datastore.

jefro 02-19-2013 03:09 PM

When you mean usb do you mean flash or external usb hard drives?

I use both a lot but I'd admit that the use is not as heavily tested so expect more issues. The vast majority of bugs that people find are from common normal installs. If a bug happens only on two users with odd installs, it may never get addressed.

Flash drives by their nature are pretty cheap. Even if someone claims they should last so many hours, I think they would fail much more than a common hard drive attached to an internal connection.

Then we get into some bios issues that might be bad.

newbiesforever 02-19-2013 05:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jefro (Post 4895431)
When you mean usb do you mean flash or external usb hard drives?

I use both a lot but I'd admit that the use is not as heavily tested so expect more issues. The vast majority of bugs that people find are from common normal installs. If a bug happens only on two users with odd installs, it may never get addressed.

Flash drives by their nature are pretty cheap. Even if someone claims they should last so many hours, I think they would fail much more than a common hard drive attached to an internal connection.

Then we get into some bios issues that might be bad.

Sorry, I meant USB flash drives. I easily forgot about external USB hard drives, because I've never used one and have no interest. The only reason I'm paying attention to the idea of running a distro off a USB anything is because I've had a great deal of bad luck with internal hard drives recently. USB sticks are so much cheaper.

jefro 02-19-2013 08:02 PM

Like many others, I run usb flash drives for many disto's. I have for years used them. The ones in my use get carried around in my pockets and dropped off the desk and may suffer from esd/rfi and other static issues.

Good thing about a flash drive is they are cheap enough to throw away. Get two and clone your install or make dual installs.

There are a lot of posts on how to help your flash last longer based on limiting writes. Things like cache/swap on disk is avoided and even journaling file systems might be considered. Some people even go so far as to use ram as a mounted file system to use.

newbiesforever 02-19-2013 09:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jefro (Post 4895573)
Like many others, I run usb flash drives for many disto's. I have for years used them. The ones in my use get carried around in my pockets and dropped off the desk and may suffer from esd/rfi and other static issues.

Good think about a flash drive is they are cheap enough to throw away. Get two and clone your install or make dual installs.

There are a lot of posts on how to help your flash last longer based on limiting writes. Things like cache/swap on disk is avoided and even journaling file systems might be considered. Some people even go so far as to use ram as a mounted file system to use.

That sounds like an indication that I shouldn't do this without lots of RAM. I have only 2 GB minus video memory.

jefro 02-20-2013 02:59 PM

Depends on the distro and how you wish to use the flash drive.

2g ought to be OK for general stuff without swap. If you do much more on a new bloated distro then watchout.

In my opinion the usb channel gets used pretty hard on a live usb flash. Anything you can do to help it would be a plus. Also a faster flash drive helps.

I have begun to rely on USB 3.0 usb installs more and more. Just now has the support begun in many distro's for this.

lleb 02-21-2013 09:00 AM

you should find the USB install just as reliable as CD or DVD. it all boils down to the quality of the medium.

I find creating the USB bootable device a bit more cumbersome then say creating the CD/DVD, but that is because there is no "working" tool that you can right click burn, or a simple single command to perform that process.

its all good in the end it works and is reliable.

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/How_to...d_use_Live_USB

http://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/...USB_media.html

couple of links for you.

jefro 02-21-2013 03:04 PM

Well, just know that the right way now is to use a traditional drive attached to a drive controller. Any deviation could be more risky.

A live cd/dvd tends to rely on internal ram to cheat the system into thinking it is a real install. It also is usually more tested. We have had live cd's for many many years now. Only in the last few years have we had live usb's either in native installs or pendrivelinux installs.

SojolHossain 02-23-2013 01:03 PM

I think that you can be use your motherboard usb installer.

bloody 02-25-2013 05:25 AM

I'm running a USB-stick system since 3 years as a means of rescue/diagnosis system in case something goes wrong on one of my machines. Boots fine on every box. Doing multiple system upgrades per month, so far not a single problem with the stick.

The stick is a bit older, but at least it can read at approx. 27 MB/sec. which is okay as long as i don't need to write much. But just booting the desktop, launching a Firefox etc. isn't so annoying. Maybe i really had some luck with that stick because it served me so error-free all the years. Anyhow, if the flash mem is reliable, so is the system.

newbiesforever 02-28-2013 10:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by lleb (Post 4896713)
you should find the USB install just as reliable as CD or DVD. it all boils down to the quality of the medium.

I find creating the USB bootable device a bit more cumbersome then say creating the CD/DVD, but that is because there is no "working" tool that you can right click burn, or a simple single command to perform that process.

its all good in the end it works and is reliable.

http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/How_to...d_use_Live_USB

http://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/...USB_media.html

couple of links for you.

I was just thinking that if the process is more time-consuming and inconvenient than burning a liveCD, it may be particularly useful to remaster the USB installation (if that's possible) after the first time you make it. It could save a lot of time, especially if you have extensively modified the distro after installing it. More generally, remastering programs are great tools and should be standard equipment in every distro.

newbiesforever 02-28-2013 10:18 AM

I just found a distro called Pendrivelinux that claims to have a "Universal USB Installer." But oddly, the website explicitly says one must use Windows to run it, because the installer is an .exe file. No, thank you, PendriveLinux designer; I'm not installing Windows.

Dman58 02-28-2013 10:34 AM

Never used pendrive but I have used unetbootin and it works great. Supports Linux, Mac, & Windows. Give it a try.

jefro 02-28-2013 03:07 PM

www.pendrivelinux.com is a great site for new usb linux users who have windows only systems.

There are only a few ways to put linux on a usb.

One is to use tools shown at pendrivelinux. There are tools for both linux and windows shown at that site.

Generally the pendrivelinux ways are not true installs. They take some cd/dvd image and create a fake install to a usb. Many people find they have advantages in size in usb as well as ease of use and install. They are also very safe ways to learn and test.

Second way may be that distro's have easy apps in their live cd/dvds. You boot to the disk and follow onscreen installer to USB. This is not to be confused with the installer to hard drive which I will cover next. A bit more dangerous to the new user.

Booting to almost any new disto will allow you to install to a usb just like it was an internal hard drive. Modern linux for the most part thinks the usb is really a hard drive. You need be very careful when using this way. Some installers might put data on your internal hard drive and make a mess that may take a while to fix if at all. I use this method all the time. I do either use a virtual machine or physically remove power to the internal drives. Even I make mistakes in a hurry. Well worth my time to protect my data at all costs.


Many distro's now are going to what is called an iso but really either a hybrid or usb only image. The image is meant to be used for usb flash drive. You use either their tool or a command called dd or dd for windows or rawrite.


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