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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?

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Old 07-03-2013, 12:24 PM   #1
memilanuk
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Running from external USB3 drive


Hello there,

I've got a nice laptop (Lenovo ThinkPad T530) w/ a 256GB SSD for the main drive... but there's just not quite enough space to run both Win7 (need it, can' get rid of it for various reasons) and its recovery partition, and more than one full linux distro install.

I'd like to tinker with some other distros from time to time, perhaps even 'test' an upgrade before committing my main machine, and going by past experience, testing things out in a VM is all well and good, but doesn't necessarily reflect 100% accurately how they are going to behave on non-generic hardware.

I was thinking of using an external USB3 drive to install other distros to for the purposes outlined above... but I was wondering how much of a bottle neck the USB3 connection was going to be in reality. I don't generally run anything requiring *that* much computing power (other than games in Win7, or VirtualBox in my main Linux distro) if that matters.

Thanks,

Monte
 
Old 07-03-2013, 12:51 PM   #2
qlue
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Well, I've successfully run Linux through USB 2 before. And a full USB 3.0 implementation should be as fast as, if not faster than a SATA connection. So you really shouldn't have speed issues.

However, note that older Linux kernel might not support USB3 very well. So you'll want to stick with distros that use the latest kernels. This will become less of an issue though as USB2 is phased out and USB3 will become the standard. But just to be aware that there may be some issues with older kernels.

P.S: The only "bottleneck" issues I had were related to Flash drives. Especially with smaller flashdrives where the read/write rate of the flash memory is the real bottleneck.
 
Old 07-03-2013, 02:42 PM   #3
jefro
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To start with, you say you need windows. So let me begin by saying that you can wreck that if you are not careful. I use a server that has removable drives so that there is no chance of borking the hard drive. You can't easily do that on a laptop unless the drive is removable in a bay.




I suggest that you install a free virtual machine like virtualbox. That way would allow you to safely install a linux distro to a flash drive. You boot up a linux iso file from virtualbox created with no virtual hard drive. Then you attach the usb to the virtual machine. The installer will (or should) see this usb drive as a real internal virtual hard drive. While you can't easily get this to reboot correctly it should allow you to install a few versions of linux. Once you get it installed you can reboot normally to this new hard drive choice. (most computers see a usb flash as a hard drive choice not a usb choice)

One note would be that few distro's support installing to and running from usb 3 right now.


Unless you really need to boot from a usb, you could always use the virtual machine to boot to storage on the usb also.

Last edited by jefro; 07-03-2013 at 02:45 PM.
 
Old 07-03-2013, 02:49 PM   #4
memilanuk
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefro View Post
To start with, you say you need windows.
Yep.

Quote:
So let me begin by saying that you can wreck that if you are not careful.
Duly noted... I have both post-install HDD images (via clonezilla) and user dir backups (via duplicity/Deja-Dup)stored remotely (NAS), so I have some level of safety net should things go awry.

Quote:
I suggest that you install a free virtual machine like virtualbox.
Please see my original post, where I mentioned that I *have* been using VirtualBox, and its not really a substitute in this case - I need to see the distro run directly on the hardware in question, not in some virtualized environment.


Quote:
One note would be that few distro's support installing to and running from usb 3 right now.
Yep... that would be a problem. Hopefully most of the modern, user-friendly distros that I am tinkering with the newer releases of (Mint, Fedora, openSUSE, Ubuntu, etc.) will be able to.

Thanks,

Monte
 
Old 07-03-2013, 07:25 PM   #5
jefro
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You needed to read the next sentence. " That way would allow you to safely install a linux distro to a flash drive"


You use the VM to create the usb only. It is to protect your install. You can't bork your install if you use a VM to create your usb using stock settings.

Opensuse is one of the first that I tried and worked. I'd guess the other major ones also work to some degree or all.

Last edited by jefro; 07-03-2013 at 07:28 PM.
 
Old 07-03-2013, 07:28 PM   #6
memilanuk
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And will it then see the specialized laptop hardware such as the Fn-Fx keys, the wireless radio, etc. or just the generic virtualized network cards, the sanitized USB connection, etc.?
 
Old 07-03-2013, 07:32 PM   #7
jefro
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Once you reboot to your new usb you may then have some ability or all of specialized keys. Normally distro's won't support specialized keys. Laptops have never been totally supported in linux. Once you make your usb it will be like any hard drive install usually. A usb 3.0 is a good choice for speed usually.


If you boot to windows and use a VM then that is a different deal. It may be more easy to use network usually. Fn keys may only work on host. They may not fully translate to client.

Last edited by jefro; 07-03-2013 at 07:33 PM.
 
Old 07-03-2013, 07:36 PM   #8
memilanuk
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And... pretty much everything in your post high-lights why I asked about doing an install to physcial media via USB3, not in a VM. If I'm evaluating for actual use as a physical install on that particular hardware, why would I want to insulate the distro from it? I wouldn't.

Last edited by memilanuk; 07-03-2013 at 07:38 PM.
 
Old 07-03-2013, 07:39 PM   #9
jefro
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The usb can be attached to the VM in virtualbox just as if it were attached on a real computer.

You seem to be missing the point of using a VM. I suggest this to protect you from a newbie mistake. I am acting in your best interests. It will provide a result that you want.

Last edited by jefro; 07-03-2013 at 07:41 PM.
 
Old 07-03-2013, 07:40 PM   #10
memilanuk
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I think you are completely missing the point of what I'm trying to do here.

Forget about the VM - drop it - I'm not going that route.
 
Old 07-03-2013, 11:23 PM   #11
John VV
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for an external usb drive like say the WD "My Book " 3 TB drive
usb3 will NOT be any problem except for using RHEL5.9 /CentOS5.9 / SL5.9. RHEL6.4 might have issues ?? i do not know .

the current fedora 19 or slack with the 3.10 kernel
or Arch with the 3.10 kernel should be fine

stay with NEW'ish kernels

now a usb flash thumb drive
even a NEW usb3 one will be a bit slow
read THEN write , they do one thing at a time .

that said even running a os on a usb2 thumb drive is doable
it will be almost non usable and things will take a lot of EXTRA time to do .
Firefox reading a page will be DEAD SLOW , things like that

usb3 will be faster but with some bottle necking

Last edited by John VV; 07-03-2013 at 11:25 PM.
 
  


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