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Old 01-14-2013, 07:48 AM   #1
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Using a pendrive Linux long term.

O.K. - followed the instructions (some time back) and built a pendrive Linux on a 16GB stick.

Nice fast stick, worked well.

So I ran it as a normal Linux, updating as new patches etc. were released.

Then one day I ran out of space.
Then I realised that the pendrive was configured with a pretend CD formatted as FAT32 and was only 713MB capacity (as reported by Windows).

So the basic question is:
does the first (boot) partition have to be CD size?
If I shrink the rest of the partitions and expand the FAT32 partition will it still boot?

I know I can suck it and see but I was wondering if anyone had already tried this and knew what constraints applied.


Old 01-14-2013, 08:28 AM   #2
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The installer of most distributions gives you the capability to do a full upgradable install to USB stick, controlling a) the partition size, b) the partition filesystem.

For example if you are using Ubuntu see post #5 of this thread (the author C.S. Cameron is an expert on the topic):
Old 01-14-2013, 08:32 AM   #3
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I assume that you use it as a live-medium with persistance feature (created with Unetbootin, Lili USB or other tools). If you really want to use the OS long-term I would recommend to create a real installation instead of the live system.
Old 01-14-2013, 09:50 PM   #4
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Not sure what is going on. "I ran it as a normal Linux, " Usually a "pendrive" install will/sometimes fail on updates. It simply can't change some of the files and use the casper file for changes.

If you are careful, a real install to a usb flash drive is very easy. I use a virtual machine so that there is not way to bork the normal hard drive but if you are careful and the distro is OK then you can boot to a cd/dvd and install directly to your usb just as if it were a real hard drive.

There may be some hacks or other ways to change the flash drive to ext2 and run a unetbootin type pendrive install. There are ways to run from an iso image even and then to a second partition for ext2 for persistent changes I believe also. See for more ideas.

I agree with the others that you should consider a normal real install. Almost all modern linux distro's use the usb just like a hard drive.

Be warned that you can bork your main install if you are not careful. Boot from cd/dvd to start your distro installer. Remove power from internal hard drives if you feel you need that data.


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