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I'm considering running my laptop from a USB flash drive. The system would be one of the Ubuntu family.

  • What should I do to ensure that the USB flash drive lasts as long as possible?

  • What can I do to improve system performance?

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  • Don't put the swap partition on the Flash Drive. You'll wear it out in no time.
  • Try using Xubuntu. Xubuntu uses the Xfce window manager which is less resource intensive than GNOME or KDE.
  • Disable autosaving.
  • Disable creating backup copies of files.
  • This one is an unlikely option but: Get more RAM.

Everything you can do to reduce the amount of disk access will help if you are running from a flash drive (in both performance and flash drive life).

However, while you can run an OS from a flash drive, I would advise against it. They really aren't designed for this. You'll significantly impair both the life of your flash drive, and the performance of your PC.

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Have you got any numbers regarding how fast swap will kill the flash drive? Apple, for example, even ships MacBooks with an SSD built-in. It seems like today it's possible to run a system of an SSD. – Georg Schölly Nov 10 '09 at 16:27

Easy Peasy is a customized Ubuntu for netbooks. You can basically turn your USB drive into a LiveCD.

I agree with Macha's suggestion not to put swap on the USB drive.

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