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Old 04-03-2010, 11:37 AM   #1
Cotun
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Registered: Jan 2009
Location: UK
Distribution: Debian Stable and Unstable
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Installing Debian onto USB Flash Media


Hi

I have an Asus EEE 1000HE and I've had nothing but trouble with it since I brought it. I've always dual-booted the machine and while Linux works fine on it, Windows has given me plenty of difficulties. I've had to reinstall the machine at least three times in the short time I've owned it (because Windows has a habit of completely freezing up on me and then refusing to start up properly again in a matter of weeks after installation). I've yet to find out what is causing it and I believe the machine may also have a growing hard disk fault, so it may have to be returned as well (for the second time, it was also faulty on arrival and needed a new motherboard).

To bring a long story short, I've become somewhat tired of reinstalling Linux over and over again and now I'll have to do more troubleshooting on the machine, it'll need to be reinstalled from the recovery CD For this reason, I've decided to install Debian onto a 16GB USB Flash Drive (Corsair Flash Voyager). Then I'll be able to fiddle around with the machine while I'm trying to sort out what's wrong and still have a reliable platform for when I travel.

I'm just wondering if I can ask some advice on the constraints of using a USB flash drive for a live OS. I'm aware of the following already from some research.

* Swap on USB flash drives is bad news due to the wear rates. The EEE I have has 2GB's of RAM so I don't think losing a swap partition would matter significantly.
* I nearly always use ext3 as a file system on desktop machines. The journal updates are known to cause additional wear to the flash drive than ext2. However, I have heard that the amount of extra updates made by ext3 is not overly significant when compared to a long-term life of a decent USB flash drive. Therefore, I would prefer the much greater reliability of ext3 if nobody here disagrees with that assessment.
* Using relatime and noatime lengthens the flash lifetime. I don't mind using this, but I wonder what impact it would have on normal desktop apps like mail clients etc. Could anybody give me any idea if this would be a problem or not?

That's all I think I've read on the subject. I'd appreciate any advice anybody else has about this issue as it's something I've never done before. Thanks to anybody who replies

Cotun
 
Old 04-03-2010, 01:27 PM   #2
rokytnji
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Registered: Mar 2008
Location: Waaaaay out West Texas
Distribution: AntiX 13 , Various Puppys (MacPup,Slack0),MX-14
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Quote:
* Swap on USB flash drives is bad news due to the wear rates. The EEE I have has 2GB's of RAM so I don't think losing a swap partition would matter significantly.
* I nearly always use ext3 as a file system on desktop machines. The journal updates are known to cause additional wear to the flash drive than ext2. However, I have heard that the amount of extra updates made by ext3 is not overly significant when compared to a long-term life of a decent USB flash drive. Therefore, I would prefer the much greater reliability of ext3 if nobody here disagrees with that assessment.
* Using relatime and noatime lengthens the flash lifetime. I don't mind using this, but I wonder what impact it would have on normal desktop apps like mail clients etc. Could anybody give me any idea if this would be a problem or not?
I run a EEEPc 900 with External Flash Drive (SD Flash to be Exact).

I usually stick with Ext2 since I believe better safe than sorry. But whatever floats your boat is also fine also.

For the Noatime thing for Ext3.
Add to options in the fstab for every ext3 mount

The mount options are "noatime,commit=60"

noatime will prevent updating the access time every time you open a file

commit=60 (ext3 option) only writes to the journal once every 60 seconds instead of the default 5.

These two options together should significantly cut down on the write cycles.

I don't run straight Vanilla Debian on My EEEPC. Right now I run a Persistent AntiX 8.5 Prefinal on SD Flash. I made a AntiX 8.5 Full Iso on Usb first (used Linux version of Unetbootin). After Booting Pendrive.
I downloaded another AntiX 8.5 prefinal and saved it to the live USB Used the AntiX Control Center in live USB to use the antiX2usb installer to make my Live SD card with persistence to save changes.

Basically everything is automated. You will need to unmount which ever drive you install to if using antiX2usb installer.

Depending on what Debian you are going to go with. Lenny,Squeeze,Sidux. And depending if you want to run Live USB with Persistence or just install Debian to Flash like a internal Hardrive Install. It will take a little experimentation for the install, maybe setting up grub right, getting wireless going, etc......

I should also mention that Macpup Foxy 3 also worked pretty good on My Asus 900 as a External Flash SD full install also.

Here is one install on a EEEpc 1000 HA

http://mepislovers.org/forums/showthread.php?t=25577/



Just for grins. My older How to for AntiX 8.2. I will be doing some others for AntiX 8.5 Later when it goes final. Good Luck and Happy Trails, Rok

http://yatsite.blogspot.com/2009/07/...s-eee-900.html
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 04-04-2010, 09:26 AM   #3
Cotun
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Registered: Jan 2009
Location: UK
Distribution: Debian Stable and Unstable
Posts: 61

Original Poster
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Hi

Quote:

commit=60 (ext3 option) only writes to the journal once every 60 seconds instead of the default 5.
I had no idea about this option so thanks. This is really useful as it cuts down on write-cycles, but in a worst-case scenario you still shouldn't get file system damage as you can on ext2. Does the sync command force a journal write?

Thanks for your information too on AntiX. I'm personally a big fan of Debian so I'll stick to that and I prefer the simple USB filesystem option rather than anything live. The system is already running Debian, so things like wireless should be fairly easy to set up now. I was mainly interested in protecting the USB media as much as possible while having a hard disk like install with good filesystem protection features

Cotun
 
  


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