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Is this feasible?

I have a Thinkpad T40. I'd like to get one of the tiny USB drives (like the Verbatim Store 'n' Stay series) of sufficient size to handle basic Linux OS booting (8GB?), then put 16Gb or greater memory card (SD or CF) in the PCMCIA slot with appropriate adapter for additional application programs and data storage.

I know I could get a used or refurb HD, but I've had reliability issues in the past. I don't believe that new IDE drives are available.

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I do believe there's IDE -> CF and IDE -> SD card adaptors still floating around, and they're pretty cheap. Might be another option –  Journeyman Geek Nov 3 '12 at 5:52
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1 Answer

Technically it is feasible, but it will be relative slow. You will also run into the problem that flash chips have a limit on how often they can be written. The same problem exists on a SSD, but the firmware on a SSD works around that.

Basically:

  • Yes, it can work.
  • If you use simple flash drives (USB pendrives, SDcards etc) then use a filesystem designed to work on flash, such as JFFS, JFFS2 or YAFFS
  • New (or maybe dusty from old shelf life, but still 1st user) 2 ½ inch ATA harddrives drives are still sold. Though at relative high prices per megabyte.

Doing this with USB drives and a SD card is likely to be fun, shockproof and cheap. And possibly quite a learning experience. But the old classic HDD way is still available.

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