Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am sort of at a lost to as what to do exactly. I have Debian Wheezy installed on a USB flash drive. I installed it by burning the Debian LiveCD and booting my PC to that, plugging in the flash drive and then performing an install from the LiveCD down to the flash drive. I have since then booted from my flash drive, installed many different programs/etc. Anywho, it seems during any sort of disk or network intensive IO operations, the OS just locks up. Right now I am streaming pandora and the browser will just stop responding, the cursor will lock to whatever state it was in and then eventually the music will stop. After about 30 seconds it will "unfreeze" and operate normally. This happens during ANY intensive process such as copying data, downloading a file, watching a youtube video, etc. I am using Chrome as my browser at the moment, it seems to happen less with Chrome. It happened all the time with Iceweasel. I have to think it's something to do with some sort of flash drive bottle neck of some sort, I am not certain though. I feel like there is something I should tweak or configure for smoother operation from a thumb drive but I am not sure what. Does anyone have any suggestions I could try/implement to my Debian install to help it run smoothly from a thumb drive? I am not sure what information to provide so here's some general information -

USB 2.0 16 GB Kingston Data Traveler G3

HP Compaq 8510p

Ethernet Gbit Connection

Intel(R) Core(TM)2 Duo CPU T7500 @ 2.20GHz


ATI RV630 Video

I imagine most drivers are functioning properly and whatnot.

I'm just not sure where to start troubleshooting these random little "hangs". I am more than happy to provide further information about the system/configurations/etc, just let me know what is needed.


Edit - Outputs blkid

/dev/sdb1: UUID="ed28abdb-9325-4686-b88c-977ca729b88b" TYPE="ext4" 
/dev/sdb5: UUID="F0EF-5A96" TYPE="vfat"

fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sdb: 15.6 GB, 15610576896 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 1897 cylinders, total 30489408 sectors
Units = sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x0001c76e

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdb1   *        2048    29147135    14572544   83  Linux
/dev/sdb2        29149182    30488575      669697    5  Extended
/dev/sdb5        29149184    30488575      669696    b  W95 FAT32
share|improve this question
It could be that you're swapping to the flash drive; the behavior you're seeing sounds like disk I/O hanging for a long time, and flash drives generally have poor write speed and abysmal write buffer depth. If mount shows your swap partition (or swap file) on the flash drive, try moving it to a hard disk or SSD and see if you get better results. – Aaron Miller Oct 14 '13 at 15:43
You should start by examining your log files and see if there is anything in there related to the hang. /var/log/syslog would be a good start. – Oliver Salzburg Oct 14 '13 at 15:57
@AaronMiller Thanks for the info! I did not have a swap partition installed on the thumbdrive. I wanted to keep from excessive wear and tear so I do not have a swap installed. I have added an edit which details the outputs of fdisk -l and blkid in regards to the thumbdrive. I used a FAT32 partition instead so I could store files that I may want to access across different OSs. – 0xhughes Oct 14 '13 at 16:16
@OliverSalzburg Thanks for the input! I checked the log and didn't see anything that really stood out to me. Nothing that would of coincided with intermittant issues of some kind. I would expect to see something in the log with the same frequency to as how often the hangs happen I would assume? There isn't any errors or anything really. Just random system stuff it looks like. I can include the latest parts of the log if you think it's nessecary, I may be missing something obvious, but it all looks pretty normal to me. Thanks! – 0xhughes Oct 14 '13 at 16:25
Little more follow-up. It seems that alot of the hangup is network related, and disk. So I created an fstab entry to mount the /tmp directory to RAM. Apparently flash cache is stored in there along with other things, doesn't really seem to of helped a whole lot, doesn't really hurt either. I also put Iceweasel cache into RAM as well, is it possible to load other portions into RAM to increase performance? Perhaps the uncompress the /bin folder from a .GZ into RAM at boot or something like that? Like initrd type of stuff? – 0xhughes Oct 15 '13 at 12:14

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.