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Old 05-31-2007, 01:44 AM   #1
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Installing Linux on a USB Flash drive. Question

Okay, this might be a stupid question, but I can't find the answer anywhere.

I have a 4GB usb flash drive and I am planning on following one of the 10 or so tutorials I have bookmarked to install linux on it. The problem is, none of these tutorials tell me what I am getting.

Since a flash drive can be saved to, am I getting a full blown OS that I can save files to, install software on, and make changes in general that will be saved and working the next time I boot?


Am I getting the same thing that a LiveCD gives me? Will any changes I make be lost after I reboot?
Old 05-31-2007, 01:48 AM   #2
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Full OS which is changeable et al.... as if you had installed to a usb hard drive.
Old 05-31-2007, 02:09 AM   #3
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Thanks for the fast reply

Thanks good news, kind of what I figured, but wanted to be sure.
Old 05-31-2007, 08:02 AM   #4
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How it works depends on the distribution. There are many designed just for flash drives that work similar to a live CD. The OS runs from memory but configurations are automatically saved at shutdown and restored at boot up. This prevents the flash drive from wearing out due to excessive write/erase cycles i.e having a swap partition on the drive. The OS will run faster since USB throughput is slower compared to an internal hard drive. USB Slax is one example. They are are also stripped down to fit the limited space.

You did not post any links or your choice of distribution so we can not tell what you are getting either. Any "regular" could probably be stripped down to fit but the main precaution would not to use a physical swap partition.
Old 05-31-2007, 10:46 AM   #5
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Ahh... I see. I do remember hearing that flash drives have a limited number of write/erases. I was hoping to put MEPIS 6.5 on the drive, since that's what I am used to. It works with my nvidia card, ethernet card, everything, without any extra work.

Question... Mandriva sells 4GB flash drives with Mandriva installed for like $130. They say you run the entire thing off of the flash drive, like what I was asking. Does this mean that one day those drives are just going to stop working?

Here's the main tutorial I was going to follow:

People replaced DSL with other distros and it seemed to work. Is there a way to run the swap partition from RAM and everything else from the drive?
Old 05-31-2007, 10:50 AM   #6
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Every drive stops working one day..... flash or disk.

I don't know the figures (i'm sure a google will tell you) but it isn't likely to run out that soon.

You could always keep it backed up/imaged and when one drive expires, put it on a new one, you can get 2GB ones in the UK for about 12 i think i saw.

I don't quite understand your question about swap in RAM. Swap effectively handles the overflow from memory, so using the memory as swap is pretty futile.

Last edited by ethics; 05-31-2007 at 10:52 AM.
Old 05-31-2007, 10:57 AM   #7
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I guess what I should have said is.... Is there a way to have things like log files write to ram instead of the flash drive? Only write to the drive when I need a setting changed, etc? I just read that they have about one million writes in them. That doesn't sound like a lot.


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