I have so far published 7 parts in the Installing Linux on USB series. In this part I thought I will review what I have published for far in the series – Yes, a review of all the 7 parts and important notes from them. So even if you have not read the entire series you can get a pretty decent hold on what we have covered so far. So let’s get started…


Part 1

In part 1 we saw the difference between USB hard drives and USB flash drives. Yes, many people think that they are the same but there is a basic difference between them – the storage media that is used in them.

USB flash drives DO NOT have any moving parts in them. They contain Solid Storage Device (SSD) – the “Flash” –  and hence they have limited read/write capability and size also. But with technology advancing every day that limitation is slowly being gone as the capacity of USB flash drive is increasing.

USB hard drives are the traditional IDE/PATA hard drives which are just enclosed in a casing which has an IDE-to-USB interface. They do contain moving parts since they are IDE drives.

Part 2

In part 2, we saw how to install Debian Linux from the standard installation CD on a USB hard drive. Basically it is exactly like installing Debian Linux on a hard drive except that you have to choose the USB hard drive instead of IDE drive. That’s it.

Part 3

In part 3, we saw which filesystem is best for USB devices out of Ext2 or Ext3. In particular we saw that:

For USB Hard Drives – Ext3 or Ext2

For USB Flash Drives = Ext2 with “noatime” or “relatime” mount option

The basic idea is that:

a) Ext3 filesystem causes lots of writes than Ext2 filesystem because it maintains a journal in it and that’s why it is called “a journaling filesystem”. Using Ext2 filesystem eliminates these writes to the media and hence life of USB flash drives can be extended by a significant factor.

b) Also Ext2/Ext3 causes a write to the disk every time a file is read/write. Causing a “write” even for a “read” is very expensive in general in particular for USB flash drives. Using noatime or relatime does not causes those writes every time a file is read or write.

Part 4

In part 4 we see the difference between Ext2/Ext3 filesystem’s mount options like:

a) atime

b) relatime

c) noatime

Part 5

In part 5, we saw how to install Debian on a USB flash drive using a standard Debian Installation Disk. The only difference is that you select USB flash drive and select the noatime and relatime mount options.

Part 6

This a one of my favorites. In part 6, we saw how to create a dual boot Linux (ext2) and MS-DOS bootable USB flash drive. These kind of USB flash drives are very handy if you need to repair a system or do some maintenance work. Installing a generic default kernel like 2.6.26-1-686 is recommended so that your USB flash drive will boot on most of the x86 architecture computers.

Part 7

In part 7, we saw how we can create a USB bootable Debian Installation CD. Yes, we can create a USB flash bootable disk by either using a:

1. Download the netinst (Net Install) ISO image of size 150-180MB from here.
2. Download the businesscard image of size 40 MB from here.

This way we have another handy tool – A USB bootable Debian Installation Flash drive.

With this I would like to conclude this semi-review of the series. Watch out for more parts in these series. Coming soon…

Also please don’t forget to rate this post below.

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