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I was wondering if a USB 2.0 Thumb drive has enough bandwidth to act as a primary system drive in an Ubuntu Linux server. More specifically an SAN server. I am running an iSCSI target, ZFS and NFS-kernel-server, BIND9 (Slave), and Openldap (Slave). I was thinking of resorting to a thumb drive because my new motherboard only has 4 SATA ports and I have 5 disks. 4 (ZFS Pool) 1 (System). And unless I get an expansion card there is no way to get more SATA ports.

This "server" leans more twords a home server. I use in my lab with my VMware server. It provides storage, or atleast it did until it died.

Would it still be better to go with the SATA hard disk?

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migrated from serverfault.com Dec 16 '12 at 21:37

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Sure, especially if you make the USB largely readonly. Do not place high volumes of write on it and it is just fine. Test it always of course - trust but verify.

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It's possible. As johnshen64 wrote, it is a good idea to move frequently-written-to files onto some other device. I've been running a small home server for some two years now with Ubuntu Server 10.04, two SATA drives in software RAID 1 and 16GB Kingston USB stick as a / partition. FTP, Samba, Apache, Subsonic etc. No problems so far. Amongst other tweaks, I moved /var/log to the SATA drives and simply symlinked it in / - it's not the safest trick, but in a very simple scenario it gets job done.

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