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I understand that during CD-R times non-persistence had a purpose, but what's the purpose now that pretty much everyone uses USB flash drivers?

not to mention USB3 sticks are pretty much 4x faster than my HD raid.

I'm writing this while taking a break going over the linux from scratch guide... And i'm still baffled that this is not the norm already with all live images.

So, Is there any reason (besides historical) that i'm missing and that will bite me after I finish this ext3-rw image?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most of the USB live images use a read-only compressed filesystem. This allows them to pack more software onto a limited amount of space, which mattered when 2GB USB drives were still $40 or more. As times have changed and USB drives have approached $1/GB, not all distributions have decided to keep up.

Fedora provides a (admittedly limited) persistence option when you use their tool to write the image to the USB drive, but as you've seen, not many distributions have followed suit. But for the full effect you'll still need to perform a full install onto the USB drive (via passing the expert argument to the installer).

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i tried to boot the read-only image from several distros and install on the remaining space of the pen drive... pretty much all of them failed. debian, ubuntu, fedora (to cite the bigger ones only). fedora had some troubles but at least gave me means to work around. i'm now writing from a full fedora install on a usb3 flash drive. –  gcb Dec 18 '12 at 8:06
    
my point being "not all distributions decided to keep up" should be "none" :/ –  gcb Dec 18 '12 at 8:07
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