Thursday, 12 January 2012

usb live linux is not a replacement for your desktop/laptop linux yet.

I tried using usb pen drive (a.k.a. flash drive) in live usb mode with fedora 16 i386 as a portable regular OS. Installation was easy. I installed from the tool that will allow you to write the live iso available for download from fedora site to usb. It didnt take much time to write to USB. And it worked when i booted from usb. i allocated 10GB as overlay partition. Overlay partition is a space that live OS allows you to store your files.

Then came the reality shock. It was very slow and would freeze multiple times. Then i tried the thing that told me the truth. I ran:
$sudo yum update
I created another account as administrator account apart from the defualt account called live. I used to login to my admin account to do stuff. I usually sudo to do administrative task rather than switching to root or logining as root. Then the above command took like close 2 days to complete. In fact it didnt complete, i Canceled it by closing the gnome-terminal, as i wont honor ctrl-c. Teh number of package upgrade was ~200 packages. But this should not take forever to complete. I had suspicion that io in flash drive is bad. Further investigation confirmed in the searching the web revealed that IO in flash drive performs badly when compared to regular HDD. As bad as 5 times compared to HDD performance. More stats in the following post from coding horror on flash drive performance . Though the article is dated Jun 2 2008, i find the flash drive performance way behind HDD performance, so it still holds true from my experience.  So my conclusion is , if you want a portable OS that is small and compact to take it along with you like usb flash drive , then settle for a smartphone or wait for a technology to mature enough to provides IO performance as good as HDD performance.

I used the hp v165w 16gb flash drive for the above .

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