Originally Posted by DaMobileGuy
I, on several occasions tried to run a live linux systeem from a usb drive, But it was slow. Perhaps a minimalist distro might be a better option or a faster Usb 3.0 drive. I did get a marginal increase in performance when I installed linux onto a class 10 sdcard. But, it still lack the speed of a hard drive.
Today, I use a small SSD drive for the linux OS, while using a hard drive for the home partition. I still use linux on usb's mainly for troubleshooting or testing distros on real hardware.
I believe low speed isn't a "minimalistic" vs "bloated" issue.
I had Gentoo (no doubt, it is one of the fastest distros) installed onto 4 class SD. It was really slow system, for example, firefox took about 10 secs to start, dolphin needed 4 secs to show up a window.
I bought 10 class SD card hoping it will be noticable faster and cloned a system onto this card. Though 10 class is two times faster than 4 class, I didn't get the same speed improvement for the system. Firefox - 8 secs, dolphin - 3 secs.
Not being satisfied with such a performance, I packed some parts of filesystem into aufs (it is much more faster to mount compact filesystem as loop device and then decompress it than to read it non-compressed directly from card), and, in addition, unpacked some mostly critical directories (/lib, /usr/bin, /usr/lib) into RAM (tmpfs). This way I got really fast system, faster than regular HDD system. Dolphin starts in the blink of an eye, firefox takes less then 1 sec to start.