Linux on a USB Drive
Let me share with you about this exciting subject.
Having Linux (I use Slackware Linux) on a USB drive has changed the way
that I use computers. (Click here to read more about the origin of
this method.) Now the drives that I use are more often
outside of the computer's box than inside of it. This allows
great flexibility. I am no longer tied to one set of
So how does it work? Well, "Linux on a USB Drive" is just Linux
installed to a hard drive or solid state drive (SSD). Although it
is possible to install Linux to a flash drive (also called a "thumb
drive"), I don't recommend it, because the slower speed of a flash
drive poses some extra challenges. An SSD will way out-perform a
flash drive, anyway, and shares many of the desirable characteristics
of a flash drive. (If you really want to install Linux on a flash
drive, perhaps you would be interested Douglas Mayne's excellent blog
on the subject.)
The Linux O.S. on the hard drive or SSD needs boot instructions to boot
and run. There are many variations on how to provide these boot
instructions, but there are just two ways (booting from a CD and from
the boot record of a hard drive) that I use currently in my Rosevear
Software products. The CD, by the way, that is used to boot from
one of my hard drives is called "Joe's Boot Disk" or "JBD". Click
here to read about JBD.
I have just recently (today is 8-17-10) learned how to make USB drives
boot the other way (from the boot record), so it is new to me. My
first impressions are that this is a great way to boot Linux, because
you don't need anything else like JBD, but that's the end of the
advantages. The down side to booting this way is that it only
works on computers that have a BIOS that is capable of being configured
to do this. Also I found that the configuration of the BIOS to do
this is not always clear.
When Rosevear Software prepares a USB hard drive product It can be made
such that it may be booted in one or either of these two ways.