Cheap USB flash drives


N

Norm X

Hi,

At first blush, inexpensive USB flash drives might seem a good place to
install the many lovely Linux distros, a policy, I've pursed for many years.
(Windows cannot run on a flash drive only an internal drive.) Although not
my first USB flash drive, I purchased an 8 GB OCZ Rally2 some years ago and
installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and was happy for many years. I became more happy
when Skype became so overburdened with bloatware and would no longer run on
any Windows OS I ran. I discovered that Linux Skype was lean and mean and
would run on any Linux, Ubuntu, Debian Kali, WiFiSlax, etc.

However, Ubuntu is edging towards bloatware and outgrew its 8 GB USB flash.
It was harder than I thought it would be to copy its partition to a 16 GB
cheap Transcend USB flash drive. Then I was troubled by a problem related to
a defective USB boot track. But I was able to make the install boot using
NeoSmart EasyBCD Linux boot.

The Transcend is not the only USB flash dive with that problem. I installed
Debian Kali Linux on a 16 GB Lexar and I was only able to make the thing
boot using NeoSmart EasyBCD Linux. However, two different entries in the
boot menu are required for Ubuntu and Kali.

Now I have up graded Ubuntu 12.04 LTS to 14.04 LTS I think I am experiencing
even greater distress from bloatware. Ubuntu seems very slow on the cheap
Transcend USB flash drive. Maybe the problem is the flash drive maybe it is
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

Now I am not so sure that inexpensive USB flash drives are a good idea for
the many tasty Linux distros. Maybe a better idea would be to carve up an
external USB HDD with many logical partitions and use Linux multiboot
(grub2). Grub2 seems a little problematic on a flash drive.

Comments?
 
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P

Paul

Norm said:
Hi,

At first blush, inexpensive USB flash drives might seem a good place to
install the many lovely Linux distros, a policy, I've pursed for many years.
(Windows cannot run on a flash drive only an internal drive.) Although not
my first USB flash drive, I purchased an 8 GB OCZ Rally2 some years ago and
installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and was happy for many years. I became more happy
when Skype became so overburdened with bloatware and would no longer run on
any Windows OS I ran. I discovered that Linux Skype was lean and mean and
would run on any Linux, Ubuntu, Debian Kali, WiFiSlax, etc.

However, Ubuntu is edging towards bloatware and outgrew its 8 GB USB flash.
It was harder than I thought it would be to copy its partition to a 16 GB
cheap Transcend USB flash drive. Then I was troubled by a problem related to
a defective USB boot track. But I was able to make the install boot using
NeoSmart EasyBCD Linux boot.

The Transcend is not the only USB flash dive with that problem. I installed
Debian Kali Linux on a 16 GB Lexar and I was only able to make the thing
boot using NeoSmart EasyBCD Linux. However, two different entries in the
boot menu are required for Ubuntu and Kali.

Now I have up graded Ubuntu 12.04 LTS to 14.04 LTS I think I am experiencing
even greater distress from bloatware. Ubuntu seems very slow on the cheap
Transcend USB flash drive. Maybe the problem is the flash drive maybe it is
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

Now I am not so sure that inexpensive USB flash drives are a good idea for
the many tasty Linux distros. Maybe a better idea would be to carve up an
external USB HDD with many logical partitions and use Linux multiboot
(grub2). Grub2 seems a little problematic on a flash drive.

Comments?
If you're going to copy drives, drives which boot, you want "dd",
not file manager copying. It covers the things you didn't think
about when planning the copy. Like the sectors near the beginning
of the storage device.

And you want to be booted into some other OS, while copying the
partition in question. No matter what OS I'm copying, I want the
OS partition to be "quiet" and not have busy files on it.

Both Windows and Linux have "dd" available. This is the Windows port.
I use 0.6beta3.

http://www.chrysocome.net/dd

Let's say /dev/sdb is the new 16GB flash drive and /dev/sda is
the old 8GB drive. This is a drive copy (in Linux)

sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=262144

That says to copy the 8GB drive to the 16GB drive, only stopping
when one of the two devices runs out. I selected a block size of
0.25MB, as that might be slightly better for the flash chips.
(If you allowed 512 byte transfer steps, it might result in too
much erasing of flash pages. If the flash page is 65536, 262144
is larger than that, so whole pages get written.)

If you measure the precise size of the drive, let's say it is "X",
you can use the "factor" program in Linux, to get the factors of
the drive size. And from those, you can craft a "bs" block size
and "count" parameters. That's for situations where you want
precise control of the amount copied. Multiplying "bs * count"
should be equal to all the factors of the drive size when multiplied
together.

So let's work an example. I just plugged in my Rally2 8GB stick.
Size is 8019509248 bytes. On Linux, I might use the following
to get size info. (On Windows, I use "dd --list".)

sudo fdisk /dev/sda
p
q

When I run factor on the number, it gives

8019509248: 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 239

So I can use this to copy the 8GB sda to sdb. It just so happens
the size of the device is divisible by 262144, so either command
would have achieved the same result. On the Windows version,
you must use the following flavor, because the dd.exe port doesn't
reliably detect the end of USB flash drives. Only hard drives
work right on the Windows one. For USB, craft an exact command.

sudo dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=262144 count=30592

( 262144 * 30592 = 8019509248 )

On Windows, the equivalent command would be (assuming user
is Administrator, as a replacement for sudo...)

dd.exe if=\\?\Device\Harddisk0\Partition0 of=\\?\Device\Harddisk1\Partition0 bs=262144 count=30592

*******

You should be benchmarking your flash drives. Some read at 30MB/sec
but write at only 3MB/sec. Those are not good candidates for an OS.
I've tried that, and it was extremely slow.

And some distros are slower than others. Mint 16 was slow on my good USB flash,
whereas Mint 17 fixed it. And Mint 17 booted in a reasonable time.
It can be a distro problem. Mint (Mate) 17 is my current "Linux LiveCD on
a USB flash drive" distro. Ubuntu got kicked off.

*******

There are a couple ways you can install on a USB flash:

1) Treat it like a hard drive. That sounds like what you did.
Everything you do on the system, uses the USB flash.
Before you know it, you've got 30GB of stuff (the size of my
largest Ubuntu install in a VM, after a number of years of usage).

2) Use the method that copies the LiveCD to a USB flash, and adds
a 4GB persistent store. This is not the same as a hard disk installation,
as the system behaves like the LiveCD. Any "deltas", any changed files,
are stored in the persistent store. So any packages you install, take
space in the 4GB persistent store. This forces you to place discretionary
storage (downloaded movies) on the hard drive. And then they don't
count towards the persistent store. The persistent store is an EXT3
stored within a bitmap file (journaled so it can handle a dirty shutdown).
The USB stick is formatted FAT32, which forces the persistent store to be <=4GB.

I run Linux Mint (Mate) 17 that way, and it works fine.
I'm not a fan of Unity or Metro, and if I have a choice in
the matter, select the most efficient interface available.
That was Mate in this case. The faster I can get to the
Terminal, the happier I am. And I don't need to see dancing
tiles in any case. No matter who makes them. Tiles are for
tile people, not for me.

For method (2), look for USB-creator. Boot a Ubuntu LiveCD,
start USB-Creator, tell it where to find the Mint 17 ISO9660
file, and enter your preferences etc. That's how you make
a Mint USB Flash, from a copy of USB-Creator provided by
a Ubuntu LiveCD.

HTH,
Paul
 
D

DecadentLinuxUserNumeroUno

Hi,

At first blush, inexpensive USB flash drives might seem a good place to
install the many lovely Linux distros, a policy,

mSATA and M.2, idiot.

USB and USB flash are too vulnerable to full volume loss.

SPAM in Usenet is also a policy controlled item.

You do NOT do it, JACKASS.
 
C

Chris Ahlstrom

Norm X wrote this copyrighted missive and expects royalties:
Now I am not so sure that inexpensive USB flash drives are a good idea for
the many tasty Linux distros. Maybe a better idea would be to carve up an
external USB HDD with many logical partitions and use Linux multiboot
(grub2). Grub2 seems a little problematic on a flash drive.

Comments?
Try SanDisk. I remember that particular brand being recommended for
installing CyanogenMod on a microSD card (for an alternate boot on the
Nook). I tried it, and it seemed notably faster than a Lexar microSD.
 
D

DecadentLinuxUserNumeroUno

Norm X wrote this copyrighted missive and expects royalties:


Try SanDisk. I remember that particular brand being recommended for
installing CyanogenMod on a microSD card (for an alternate boot on the
Nook). I tried it, and it seemed notably faster than a Lexar microSD.
The Samsung micros are worth the extra price. They boot Linux on my
Cubox notably faster, even with the same little benchmark readings
popping up, which are obviously reporting on the Cubox's port, not the
stick, I suppose.
 
P

Paul

Chris said:
Norm X wrote this copyrighted missive and expects royalties:


Try SanDisk. I remember that particular brand being recommended for
installing CyanogenMod on a microSD card (for an alternate boot on the
Nook). I tried it, and it seemed notably faster than a Lexar microSD.
There is a lot of variation from one design to the next,
even with products from the same company. Check the reviews
on a site that sells them, to find the good ones.

I have a Lexar that is good, and another Lexar that the
connector broke on it. The first day. I keep Mint 17 on
the good Lexar.

I have a "Sandisk Ultra 8GB" SDC245-008G that sits in
my "hall of shame", because it isn't useful for anything.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA1050KV7853

Read Speed - Up to 15MB/s

Write Speed - Up to 10 MB/sec

Write speed on that one is 1 to 3MB/sec, varying in a sinusoid with
a 4 second time constant. The unit comes with a flashing LED, and the
LED pattern varies all over the place too (depending on where in
the stutter cycle we're at).

Now, that was an impulse buy at a local store, based on
a good experience with a previous purchase. And the reviews on
Newegg give it 2 out of 5. It's a stinker. But of course
the marketing spin calls it "Ultra", as in "Ultra bad".

You don't want to use that for booting anything. I tried (once),
as a joke.

Paul
 
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N

Norm X

There is a lot of variation from one design to the next,
even with products from the same company. Check the reviews
on a site that sells them, to find the good ones.

I have a Lexar that is good, and another Lexar that the
connector broke on it. The first day. I keep Mint 17 on
the good Lexar.

I have a "Sandisk Ultra 8GB" SDC245-008G that sits in
my "hall of shame", because it isn't useful for anything.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA1050KV7853

Read Speed - Up to 15MB/s

Write Speed - Up to 10 MB/sec

Write speed on that one is 1 to 3MB/sec, varying in a sinusoid with
a 4 second time constant. The unit comes with a flashing LED, and the
LED pattern varies all over the place too (depending on where in
the stutter cycle we're at).

Now, that was an impulse buy at a local store, based on
a good experience with a previous purchase. And the reviews on
Newegg give it 2 out of 5. It's a stinker. But of course
the marketing spin calls it "Ultra", as in "Ultra bad".

You don't want to use that for booting anything. I tried (once),
as a joke.

Paul
I purchased a 32 GB SansDisk microSD card on sale for $30. I installed in my
$60 android MK802 IIIs PC. The only software I've purchased on the Google
Play Store is Roehsoft RamExpander, a pagefile system for Android. An early
iteration of his software corrupted the file system on the 32 GB SansDisk
microSD card. I took it out, placed in its SDHC adapter and plugged it into
my Acer netbook. Under Windows, I ran a quick format without changing any of
the defaults. When I plugged it back into the MK802 IIIs, I was impressed
that everything on the microSD card was restored. I have not had any
problems with it and I still use it for the pagefile. Maybe repetitive
writes to a pagefile will wear out an SSD. But since the pagefile is on a
replaceable microSD card rather than the internal flash memory, it is not a
serious concern. I would imagine that Android comes without a pagefile for
that reason, expansion memory is optional.
 
N

Norm X

"DecadentLinuxUserNumeroUno" wrote
USB and USB flash are too vulnerable to full volume loss.
In 35 years of micro experience, I've never lost an external USB HHD. I did
lose a 32 GB SansDisk microSD flash, but as I said in another post, I
recovered everything using Windows quick format.

I have lost three 40, 80 and 160 GB internal EIDE hard drives, the last one
after seven years of service. I have one PC with a 3 drive RAID zero storage
array. Since the identical drives are six years old I'm starting to worry.
The Barracuda warrantee was five years. Windows only runs on internal
drives.

After the 160 GB drive stopped spinning I put a 40 GB into my Dell Inspiron
5100 and run Linuxes on 3 partitions. Linux caused too much thermal stress
on the CPU thermal protection mechanism and the Dell refused to boot after
one month of Linux. There is not much hope for an 11 year old Dell that
won't boot.

35 years ago I would retire PCs that became obsolete. Now I do the opposite,
I incorporate e-waste into my LAN. I am hoping the medical authorities treat
me the same and keep me alive by all means possible.
 
C

Chris Ahlstrom

Norm X wrote this copyrighted missive and expects royalties:
35 years ago I would retire PCs that became obsolete. Now I do the opposite,
I incorporate e-waste into my LAN. I am hoping the medical authorities treat
me the same and keep me alive by all means possible.
What, by hooking you into your LAN?

Brain in a vat? No, too cliché. The modern way is "brain on a LAN"!
 
J

Jonathan N. Little

Norm said:
"DecadentLinuxUserNumeroUno" wrote


In 35 years of micro experience, I've never lost an external USB HHD. I did
lose a 32 GB SansDisk microSD flash, but as I said in another post, I
recovered everything using Windows quick format.
And how did you do that? Over the years I have lost just two thumbdrives
and when they failed, they failed suddenly without warning and
catastrophically. And by catastrophically they were not recoginzed by
any system or OS, so how did you "format" something that is not
recognized by the system. In fact the other week I st the library one of
the staff lost one of those 32 GB SansDisk just as I described. Poof! Gone.
 
D

DecadentLinuxUserNumeroUno

"DecadentLinuxUserNumeroUno" wrote


In 35 years of micro experience,
WTF is that? You used to work at a chip fab house?
I've never lost an external USB HHD.
They break *all the time* the connectors break. The connecTION breaks
them (can).
I did
lose a 32 GB SansDisk microSD flash,
"lose"? You mean you performed an act which cause a data loss event.
but as I said in another post, I
recovered everything using Windows quick format.
You are joking if you think that was not a mere fluke. Unless you
really never did have another system reporting it as unreadable. You
may have just not had luck reading it any more *in that session*.
I have lost three 40, 80 and 160 GB internal EIDE hard drives,
12 altogether? That is a large amount.
the last one
after seven years of service. I have one PC with a 3 drive RAID zero storage
array. Since the identical drives are six years old I'm starting to worry.
Do you keep them up 24/7/365 or constantly cycle the power on them?
And what OS is on the machine they are installed in?
The Barracuda warrantee was five years. Windows only runs on internal
drives.
There are ways around everything where a desire exists.
After the 160 GB drive stopped spinning
Hahahaha... cruddy PC chassis internals?
I put a 40 GB into my Dell Inspiron
5100 and run Linuxes on 3 partitions. Linux caused too much thermal stress
on the CPU thermal protection mechanism and the Dell refused to boot after
one month of Linux. There is not much hope for an 11 year old Dell that
won't boot.
Pretty sure that one would have been a CRUD issue too. It just
happened to coincide with you doing drive upgrades and OS installs.
35 years ago I would retire PCs that became obsolete. Now I do the opposite,
I incorporate e-waste into my LAN. I am hoping the medical authorities treat
me the same and keep me alive by all means possible.
Pretty sure certain portions have already rotted.

I have 30 spinning HD drives in this room alone, and 15 more out in
the garage. I have about eight SSDs and about 5 mSATAs and about 20 USB
flash sticks and about 20 micro sd chips.

They fail. Connectors, and the "sockets" they get connected into are
reasons. Especially if there have been a lot of insertion/removal
cycles on the "port" connector. When a data dropout happens on a device
being regarded as a hard drive type storage device... bad things happen.
If it is a "mounted" Linux ext type volume, it become unreadable.
Hopefully your / and boot directories do not reside on it... oops.

Yes... they fail... big time.
 
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N

Norm X

USB and USB flash are too vulnerable to full volume loss.
In 35 years of micro experience, I've never lost an external USB HHD. I
did lose a 32 GB SansDisk microSD flash, but as I said in another post, I
recovered everything using Windows quick format.

I have lost three 40, 80 and 160 GB internal EIDE hard drives, the last
one after seven years of service. I have one PC with a 3 drive RAID zero
storage array. Since the identical drives are six years old I'm starting
to worry. The Barracuda warrantee was five years. Windows only runs on
internal drives.

After the 160 GB drive stopped spinning I put a 40 GB into my Dell
Inspiron 5100 and run Linuxes on 3 partitions. Linux caused too much
thermal stress on the CPU thermal protection mechanism and the Dell
refused to boot after one month of Linux. There is not much hope for an 11
year old Dell that won't boot.

35 years ago I would retire PCs that became obsolete. Now I do the
opposite, I incorporate e-waste into my LAN. I am hoping the medical
authorities treat me the same and keep me alive by all means possible.
I am not infallible. It turns out my 11 year old Dell was not dead, only
sick. Maybe I mistook it for dead because of wishful thinking. I hope that
does not happen to me, personally. However, it is public policy to encourage
the death of old people - Right to Die legislation.

I forgot to mention an 8 GB Intel PATA SSD inside my Acer Aspire One that
took five years to die a slow and (for me inconvenient) death. But I
restored the netbook to robust health with a 32 GB SuperTalent 1.3'' IDE ZIF
SSD, on which I write this. Sometimes I confuse myself with some kind of
super beneficent computer God.
 

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