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I have not found a thread that directly addresses my issue, so I am starting a new one. If there is one out there, please let me know and I will direct others to it.
I am trying to wrap my mind around the limitations I am having with installing Ubuntu 8.10 to a thumb drive. I have tried the new Ubuntu thumb drive utility and have followed the instruction on the Pen Drive Linux site to build a bootable thumb drive. I have gotten to the place where I can boot linux from the thumb drive and run what is available on the Live CD boot up, but as soon as I try to the refresh the OS with file and application updates, the thumb drive becomes inoperable.
I guess my question is, "Why doesn't the thumb drive operate like a regular hard drive?" If I install Ubuntu to my system's local hard drive I can load programs and update OS system files without repercussions, so why is the USB drive treated by the OS any differently?
I think it is great that I can load a Linux distro to a USB thumb drive and install onto almost any PC that allows a USB bootdisk, but it is maddening that if I want to use the USB drive as my OS disk that it is treated differently. If I can boot my PC with a Ubuntu Live CD and try the OS out, why does it behave differently when I put it on another bootable (and writeable) device?
Am I chasing the Holy Grail here? Are my expectations out of line?
I'd like to be able to carry Ubuntu with me everywhere I go, and use whatever equipment is available to me. If there could be a definitive solution for this, Ubuntu would rule the world, and isn't that the goal?
Since this install method basically copies the CD image to the pendrive, after booting up your pendrive installation I believe you must remount it in read/write mode, if it's set to read only, you could also manage this through doing it once and editing a couple files so that it will always mount in read/write. Even then, I don't think all the updates will take and some programs will still reset after a reboot.
Another way is to do a full install to your pendrive from the live CD. This requires at least a 4GB drive, and it's best to disconnect any other harddrives on the computer you're using to do the install, that way you're absolutely not going to mess up your MBR.
I've had a few different distros work from pendrives, all of them work fine, I prefer Slax or similar distro for this because they're small and are easier to make persistent, from my experience.
I'll try Ubuntu here soon and edit this post with the results to verify, if you haven't already.