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I have seen but it's a mess.

What methods support persistent drivers as well as files and settings and don't screw up lifespan of the flash drive?

I'd like to see your personal recommendations on say, Portable Linux, USB Creator, Remastersys + Unetbootin, etc


I have a Inspiron 1525 that's hard drive has been slowly dying. I want to switch to a live USB/CD/DVD system until I can get it repaired but my laptops internal wifi device requires a network connection by another means for Xubuntu to let it work, and then I have to enter my Wifi key again, and THEN I have to reinstall Skype etc... I'd be damned every time I have to shut the laptop down.

I'm ok with making a shell script for installing apps and copying settings as required but a good persistent install should make this old hat and slow and it doesn't take care of drivers.

The last time I tried making an ISO with Remastersys it didn't seem to copy all the required settings.

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migrated from Jan 12 '10 at 17:57

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Recient USB-2 flash-drives are fast and robust enough to boot and run linux directly. It is not necessary to use a 'live' or cow (copy on write) system. You can install Linux on the USB/flash drive just like is was an internal ide/sata drive.

A $20-$30 flash drive (4-32 GB) should work fine. I've been using an 8GB flash-drive for Debian Lenny for several months now. It's nice because I can carry my entire environment around in my pocket.

Of course, your bios has to be capable of booting from USB (your Inspiron 1525 is probably ok). Depending on your installer, you might have to fiddle a bit to get grub installed correctly on the MBR of the USB drive.... grub

device (hd0) /dev/sdb

root (hd0,0)

setup (hd0)

I like the ram-disk idea. I will try that (on a machine that has at least 2GB). I forgot to mention the noatime option on your root filesystem. This can significantly improve performance because flash-drive are slow to write.

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Thanks I might try this but I'm still concerned about a lot of rewrites trashing the flash drive, and if possible I'd rather have a RAM based /tmp/ and such. Including that issue, are there any other problems or differences between a direct install to USB and a Live USB? If I go your approach, I'm thinking would sort out the Grub stuff for me, either way, many thanks for your snippet! – Luke Stanley Jan 11 '10 at 1:39
So thanks again Gregor - I have now used Xubuntu's standard setup (BUT being careful to select Xubuntu's advanced setting for putting grub on the USB stick vs the HDD - but if you run the updates the X/ubuntu package maintainers new grub may install to the wrong place - but that's another story..). I also disabled all swap by editing /etc/fstab and in there I also created a RAM disk for /tmp/ with: none /tmp tmpfs size=2G,nr_inodes=200k,mode=01777 0 0 dunno if that's too big for my RAM to handle, I guess if something writes too much to /tmp/ I will find out! Share the joy of USB Linux! – Luke Stanley Jan 11 '10 at 17:15
Hey dude thanks - I just noticed your points about noatime over here on Superuser. – Luke Stanley Mar 12 '10 at 15:32

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