Filesystem for USB Flash Drive Installation?

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MtnDewManiac
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Filesystem for USB Flash Drive Installation?

Post by MtnDewManiac »

Hi,

A month or so ago, my laptop suffered a partial hard drive failure. I was in a panic, as I use my computer every day, didn't have the money for a new or used hard drive, the laptop's DVD drive failed within a month of the warranty's expiration... and there was no option in the "BIOS menu" to enable booting from USB. Also, thanks to a head injury 31 years ago, my thinking/learning is not as proficient as it once was, so problem solving can sometimes be a great challenge.

However, I began trying. I was able to access the grub (2?) boot menu, although booting either of my two Mint Installations was impossible (one dumped me into some strange quasi-terminal environment with a limited set of commands, the other simply did a warm reboot/reset of the laptop). Luckily, because the optical drive hadn't worked in years, I had previously read about placing a downloaded . ISO on the hard drive, adding it to the grub menu, and booting from it. This still worked! Apparently, that portion of the hard drive is intact. Although unwieldy, it would allow me to install to a flash drive. I experimented with many options in the BIOS menu, and discovered that changing two of them gave me the option of accessing the USB at startup - in other words, I could then boot from my USB flash drive. But it was small, and SLOW.

Someone gave me a much larger one yesterday - a 64-gig SanDisk. It should be relatively fast (for USB) because it is version 3 instead of 2. But so is there one I am using now. "Hmm..."

I did some reading, and learned that ext4 is a journaling filesystem. And that it writes to every file that it accesses, in order to add a new timestamp. The former is good, because it means there is a far less likelihood of data loss in the event of a power failure (the battery has long had a permanent 0% charge level, and I live in a rural area, so momentary power failures are not all that uncommon). But the latter is BAD in my case, because it causes everything to function SLOWLY. Also, because it shortens the already finite lifespan of my USB flash drive. A neighbor has one of those newer "smart" televisions that use Roku's OS for everything. It has a "pause live TV" feature for the actual television channels, which works by constantly writing data to a 16-gig USB flash drive, the entire time that the viewer is watching a television station. He told me that he has already gone through two of them, has talked to others online, and they've come to the conclusion that the constant data writing and rewriting is simply wearing the things out. Therefore, I am not just annoyed, I am worried.

The above is the background information. Here is my question/issue: What is the best filesystem to select when performing an installation of Mint to a USB flash drive? I would like to use a journaling filesystem, for the obvious reason. But is that timestamp-writing thing inextricably connected to this thing? I read something about a "noatime" command, but don't know how, exactly, that works or is set up. I suppose it would need to go into the boot thing, because that part of the data - the stuff that allows it to boot in the first place - is at least as important as everything else. I am willing to go with any of the filesystem choices that are present in the Mint installation program's partitioning section. Priorities are, in order: Data/device longevity, safety of "yet to be written to device" data in the event of a power failure, and speed.

Another question I have is, how should I partition the flash drive? It is (rated as being) a 64-gig one. I set my current one up with a one-gigabyte FAT32 partition for the "boot stuff," the MBR, I guess? Then I divided the remaining space between a main data partition, and a 10-gig swap partition (my laptop has 6 gigabytes of RAM). I wish to stick with a simple setup. In other words, not have separate partitions for /home, et cetera. I would like to only have the first partition as large as it needs to be for the MBR/boot stuff, however that works (I really have no idea). I know I need a swap partition, but do not know if 10 gigabytes is the best size for it. As I mentioned, my computer has six gigs of RAM. I almost never use its suspend function, because the battery is nonfunctional and something is broken inside where the power cable plugs in, from when I once tripped over it. It only takes a slight bump/jostle and the computer shuts off because power is interrupted. Therefore, if I am going to step away from the laptop for more than a minute or so, I generally shut it down to be safe.

Thanks in advance,
MDM

PS I chose to place this thread in the "newbie" section of the forum because I hope that any who choose to help me will... use the simplest terminology possible, lol, and because I felt that it might help any newer users who have been thinking (or might think) about creating a completely portable OS/setup that they can stick in their pocket and carry from location to location, enabling them to use someone else's - or a public - computer. If I should have placed it in a different section, please feel free to move it. But please send me a PM with a link to it, if you do (thank you).
Mint 18 Xfce 4.12.

If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat.

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MtnDewManiac
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Re: Filesystem for USB Flash Drive Installation?

Post by MtnDewManiac »

This is not a thread bump, per se. I just saw that 16 people have already viewed the thread. I was in the process of creating it when the little tablet thing that I was using suffered an issue. I quickly ran its web browser again, saw that I had lost most of my text, and chose to submit the thread so that I could boot my laptop and finish typing on it. Therefore, those 16 people were only able to see the first paragraph or two, which is just background - and I wanted to let them know that I was able to complete the above post and ask my questions.

For everyone else, please ignore this post. I didn't know how else to advise those 16 that they will find a complete post if they would be kind enough to reload/reread post #1.

Regards,
MDM
Mint 18 Xfce 4.12.

If guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars make people drive drunk, and spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat.

pbear
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Re: Filesystem for USB Flash Drive Installation?

Post by pbear »

Haven't we discussed full install to USB before? In any event, I wrote a tutorial you might want to look at. Yes, a 3.0 flash drive will give you much better performance. Yes, running an OS will burn it out relatively quickly. In my understanding, journaling isn't the problem so much as routine writing of temp files. Has been suggested that problem could be reduced by use of a RAM disk, but I've not done it. And which version of Mint are you planning to install. If 19.x, no you don't need a swap partition. And even with 18.x, you could get away with a small one (1 or 2 GB) if you don't need hibernation.

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