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Old 08-19-2010, 04:47 AM   #1
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Unhappy getting more r/w speed from a flash drive install

System: Linux flashvoyager 2.6.32-23-generic #37-Ubuntu SMP Fri Jun 11 07:54:58 UTC 2010 i686 GNU/Linux Ubuntu 10.04
Installed onto 64gig Flash Voyager GTR plugged into Tosh satpro laptop dual core 4 gig memory.

This is not a casper r/w persistent install version. This is installed directly onto the flash pen and running as if the flash drive was a solid state disc.

Hi there,

I have obtained a 64gig which can read at 34mb/s and write at 28mb/s. The reason I wanted this was so I could install linux ubuntu and run the OS straight of the flash as if it was a Solid state disc. I have tried using the pendrivelinux method where the persistent data is stored inside a virtual file system but I found it did not allow grub or kernel updates without the need to rebuild the entire datapen plus I did not know how to get rid of the live boot menu where it asks for language and the like.

I boot the pen straight into linux ubuntu 10.04 via the bios boot menu and select the usb pen drive. Once into grub I select the most recent kernel and then load up ubuntu.

When I first started using the distro from the pen the speed of the web browsing was so slow. I have since configured the browser to store the cache inside tmpfs /media/ramdisk and browsing seems fine now however there is underlying speed issue with using the method of install. Uncompressing installs takes an age. I have configured fstab like so:
proc /proc proc nodev,noexec,nosuid 0 0
/dev/sdb1 / ext4 errors=remount-ro 0 1
# swap was on /dev/sdb5 during installation
UUID=d3123adf-e401-4136-8503-aa8c292c465e none swap sw 0 0

#My additions:
tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
tmpfs /var/tmp tmpfs defaults 0 0
tmpfs /media/ramdisk tmpfs size=64M,nr_inodes=10k,mode=777 0 0

I have taken advantage of tmpfs in various locations as you can see. But speed is still an issue during installs and using apps like picassa and maybe some web video. You get the frequent hang of the app until the flash decides to catch up. Even when the machine is idle the flash voyager led is flickering continually.

Is there any way I can use Linux from the flash drive in such a way that this would not be a problem for the flash.
Install method: Installing Ubuntu directly to USB drive from installer CD
Note on this install method: Note: This will use the USB drive for /tmp, which will cause extra wear on the flash memory. If you're booting from a system with enough RAM, it would be more desirable to use a tmpfs in RAM for /tmp, in which case you'd want to copy the ISO CD image to the USB drive and add a persistent partition (see next section). On the other hand, if you're not concerned with your USB drive wearing out (lifetime warranty, wear leveling, etc), continue in this section.

I hopefully would not be to concerned with usb drive wear if I could get the system to use the disk a lot more efficiently.

Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks

Iain Howard.
Frustrated intermediate linux user.

PS: I am not allowed to use the HDD on the laptop since it is company laptop. My previous company laptop had Kubuntu 8.04 with XP as VM.
Also having the install on the flash drive would give me the convenience of booting the pen from any hardware.
Old 08-19-2010, 03:20 PM   #2
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I'd start with a few tests. One is to use the usb in another computer and also make a new smaller flash drive install to test back in the company system (I'd use the flash just like a normal install without any changes you tried for flash protection.)

Might consider a different file system. nilfs may be a choice.
Old 08-19-2010, 06:27 PM   #3
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Location: Minnesota, US
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I've got a (not-so-fast) 4GB flash drive on which I did a normal HDD-type install of the Fedora 13 LXDE spin. I found that tuning off journaling helped speed things up, although I've undoubtedly increased the risk of trashing the whole installation if something goes wrong.
Old 08-28-2010, 09:16 AM   #4
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Hi Lain,

Same problem here. I just bought a Corsair Voyager GTR32 and installed Ubuntu on it (full install, not live install).

It is awfully slow.

Initial system update after install just took more than 2 hours. The key keeps flashing even when I just enter search terms in Google and I've found several posts saying that Corsair GTR models die quickly (<3days) when used as OS keys.

I don't really understand why this happens. Reviews all over the web indicate this key is among the fastest ones, raw transfers are faster, indeed, but I see no improvement over a simple 16gb low-cost ok when using it as an OS disk. I even installed it on an ext2 filesystem to avoid journaling and all stuff alike (I just need convenient speed, not reliability as I can reflush the key when I come home).

Same question as Lain: is there room for improvement?

(Btw, I didn't know that thing with the tmpfs setup in fstab, thank you for sharing the info, I'll restart now and see if it increases performance.)

Last edited by sequoia; 08-28-2010 at 09:17 AM.


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