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Hi - I'm not a complete newbie: i've been using Ubuntu/Fedora/Debian for some time now, and I work as a Mac OS X sysadmin, but I do have a seemingly odd question.
I've just bought an IBM thinkpad 240X - it's a lovely machine, and it'll serve my purposes beautifully. However, I want to use it for PureData programming, so 1) it won't need much disk space, 2) I want to preserve the battery as much as possible, and 3) I want to optimise the OS as much as possible.
Based on these requirements (which I know that this laptop will be able to achieve quite successfully), I happened upon this possible solution: use a USB memory stick to boot from, instead of the hard disk, thus extending the battery life approximately threefold (this is based on what I've seen elsewhere. I know the idea works, but I've never implemented it before), and using a highly optimised version of gentoo as the OS - I don't need anything whizzy for a GUI - fluxbox would be perfect for me.
The only software that I would really require would be a web browser, a notepad (nano or pico is fine, truth be told), PureData Extended (including GEM - I don't really know the extra requirements of that, come to think of it), and maybe a compiler or two, since I'm gonna try and use this as a coding platform.
My thoughts on the USB stick are mainly these: does the 240X have any problems booting from USB (it hasn't arrived yet, see), and will gentoo behave itself if I do this kind of installation?
Whereas I'm quite comfortable hacking away at it until it works, it'd be nice to have something that's totally operational wihthin a few days.
I've also considered Xubuntu, as well, because my prior experiences of that were positive, in the main, although it didn't like my Inspiron 6000 too much (specifically, WiFi and the SD reader).
I'm going to take the modem card out, too, because I'm just trying to strip out *all* extraneous hardware. My intent at the end of this is to have a laptop that I can use without worrying about the battery (hence the hard disk removal), and without worrying about speed (hence my thoughts of using Gentoo).
My question to you folks is: do you see any problems with this plan, and if so, can you make any recommendations? The specs are as follows:
PIII 500MHz CPU
12GB HDD (to be replaced by a 4GB USB stick - I'm not strictly sure if the laptop was pre-USB 2.0)
I know that IBM's hardware (pre-Lenovo, anyway) is legendarily well-supported, so apart from knowing *how* to configure it, I don't reckon on there being any massive problems. However, I can't find out whether this line of machine was pre-USB 2.0 or not, which is a bit of a worry for me...
Any input would be massively appreciated.
The biggest problem that I can see is using a flash device instead of a hard drive. You do realize that those things have a limited life span, right? I would imagine that just compiling a Gentoo system on one would wear it out or seriously shorten it's lifespan as they have a limited number of read/writes before they crap out.
If you're dead set on using a flash stick for your OS, I'd recommend going with something specifically designed to be used in that manner. There are a few distros out there built with exactly this sort of flash stick install in mind and would be much easier on the device than trying to compile a whole OS on them.
But you also say you're going to be compiling on it so you're back to using the thing up pretty quickly. A flash stick is simply not intended to be used as heavily as you have in mind.
Thankyou for the direct answer: it's exactly the kind of response I was hoping for
I had suspected that flash memory may not really be suitable, but I wasn't sure: it's not a field I've ever really broached before now.
Ah well, I shall have to think of another way to up the battery life as much as possible, then...