Friday, February 16, 2007

No disk

Yesterday I went to Digitalstar and purchased a 4GB USB thumbdrive for $69.

My first impression of my new flash drive was that it is slow. I guess I was assuming normal disk speeds, or something akin to it, give or take; it's solid state baby! In practice the file transfer speed to the thumbdrive is about a 10th that of the hard disk speed. This is bearing in mind that the USB2 interface speed is something like 12MBps, as compared to the hard disk's PATA speed of 100MBps. When using the thumbdrive for transferring backup files to another PC, the result is about the same as using a 100Mbps network connection (pickup@~1MBps, putdown@~10MBps, compared to a copy speed@~5MBps) and definitely nothing mind blowing.

Also yesterday, I installed Ubuntu Linux on the thumbdrive, removed applications that I do not use (OpenOffice and others), and applied all the updates. Today finished installing other bits, like VLC, Skype, Audacity, Avidemux, Abiword, Gnumeric, and Flash. Seems to be working fine. The speed of the desktop is about the same; some things seem slower and some seem quicker, but nothing jaw dropping.

A diskless PC running Ubuntu is no longer a pipe dream. I will be more convinced when I see it work in the longer term. And, Yes, I am concerned about the write wearing of the flash memory, so am running without a swap file (sudo swapoff -a), which I can get away with having 512MB of RAM albeit in 2 hot memory modules but that's another issue.

Now if I could only make it run fanless and not heat up the way it does. The warm and toasty spots are, RAM (I have 2x256 modules that I am not paying good money to replace with a single module even if it would probably be more power efficient), cardbus WIFI, and of course the relatively large CPU and heatsink assembly. There is just no way to underclock my 1.5GHz Celeron because the BIOS does not present the option.

[Revision 20070219]
I figured out how to disable swap from mounting during Ubuntu startup.
  1. open Terminal
  2. sudo gedit /etc/fstab
  3. go to line that has the word swap and put # in front of it
  4. save and reboot


EDF2099 said...

"No child shall be living without a 4 gigabyte USB thumb drive by 2010" - Bob "Technocrat" Newman

Your quite the technology evangelist.

Bob said...

Adjusting for Moore's Law (redoubling every 24 months), by 2010 the said drive is expected to be 12GB. However, I believe that solid state memory is redoubling every 12 months, which will put our said drive at 32Gb. And this is still if all else stays the same and no significant developments happen.