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#1 2012-09-07 21:20:15

szim90
Member
Registered: 2011-08-01
Posts: 29

Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

I feel like this question still deals with Arch largely, so I hope it is considered acceptable by the mods. If they feel it's too far off topic, I apologize and I'll happily delete it and repost to a more general forum.

I love Arch - it's been my primary distro for a while now, and I've fallen in love with both the minimalism, documentation, and the package system (easy to create new packages or modify existing ones). So when I decided to create a bootable USB with Linux, Arch seemed like an good choice.

The problem I have with Arch on a flash drive is that, by its nature (since Arch is rolling), if I only use my flash drive once a month, there are an enormous number of updates that all wear on the finite read/writes of the flash drive (and are time consuming on the slow media).

Therefore, I wanted to ask, does anyone have any recommendations for an Arch-like distribution (minimalist, easy-to-modify packages, well documented) that's isn't rolling? Right now, I'm leaning towards trying BSD, but I'm concerned about potential driver problems (since it appears there are few proprietary drivers available for BSD). Does anyone have any other ideas?

Thanks for any help in this matter.

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#2 2012-09-07 22:15:31

lilsirecho
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Registered: 2003-10-24
Posts: 5,000

Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

Perhaps my experirence with Compact Flash devices is of interst to you.

I have had CF devices running in Raid arrays for several years...many dd operations on the devices to modify the raid arrays.

At present have a three device raid0 bootable partitioned grub2 and a four device array of the same type as well as a single raid0 device all running and upgrading daily.

It is my belief that a large capacity device utilizing CF card algorithms has a long life because the cells are constantly being changed to eliminate repeated calls to the same cell for read or write.

Therefore, a generality concerning the use of flash doesn't necessarily apply to all types of flash devices.

I have had no failure of any CF device in several years.

My wife has lost her windows HDD after two years.

I have recently utilized the same CF cards previously in raid0 arrays in archlinux. and have built the four device raid0 array cited above.  This involved dd to clear the devices and then install arch to a raid0 partition on the four devices.

All this activity has not reduced the capacity of the devices nor the speed.  The devices are mounted in a sata/IDE adapter to provide maximum UDMA performance.  A pcie/sata card provide two sata ports to my mobo two primary sata ports to provide the needed four ports.

EDIT:  With four devices of 16GB each, the available capacity ensures fewer writes to a given cell suing striping.

FWIW EDit:  Everything in my raid0 is written to root!

Last edited by lilsirecho (2012-09-07 22:43:12)


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#3 2012-09-08 02:27:54

cfr
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From: Cymru
Registered: 2011-11-27
Posts: 5,670

Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

I'd be interested in the answer to this question for a different reason. I need to install an OS on my work computer. For that, I don't really want a rolling release because I don't want to have to think about keeping two computers up to date all the time. Also, I'm likely to keep using my laptop most days whereas there will be times when I probably don't use the work machine for a while. So updates on my laptop aren't a huge deal but on the work machine they may well be.

My work machine is not as fast as my laptop. (They gave my i3 to my office mate and gave me an older core duo.) I don't think this is a big deal.

I'd really like something where I don't have to think completely differently to configure the work machine from my laptop. (Though something Darwin-like might also be OK.)

IT don't care much what I use so long as I don't turn the machine into a server and bring down the network. (Apparently, somebody did this... EDIT: I doubt they were using Linux.)

I'm puzzled as to why they've offered to let me do this, actually. Usually all machines have standard XP images. I didn't even ask - they offered to let me.

EDIT: On second thoughts, they did specify "Linux" so I should probably stick to that.

Last edited by cfr (2012-09-08 02:29:54)


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#4 2012-09-08 10:58:18

hadrons123
Member
From: chennai
Registered: 2011-10-07
Posts: 1,249

Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

szim90 wrote:

Therefore, I wanted to ask, does anyone have any recommendations for an Arch-like distribution (minimalist, easy-to-modify packages, well documented) that's isn't rolling? Right now, I'm leaning towards trying BSD, but I'm concerned about potential driver problems (since it appears there are few proprietary drivers available for BSD). Does anyone have any other ideas?

I 've tried using FreeBSD. FreeBSD has lost performance in recent years and you need a lot of workarounds for a working Desktop. FreeBSD is not rolling by any means. The update mechanism of FreeBSD 9.0 is ancient as it have been so for a long time. The Binary apps are out of date, as the repos are frozen after a release. The ports are reasonably  upto date, but updating a system is too much pain, at least for me.

Last edited by hadrons123 (2012-09-08 11:00:25)


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#5 2012-09-19 22:21:05

teateawhy
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From: GER
Registered: 2012-03-05
Posts: 1,060
Website

Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

szim90 wrote:

I wanted to ask, does anyone have any recommendations for an Arch-like distribution

You can start with the list of arch-based distributions.
They will naturally be arch-like .

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#6 2012-09-19 22:54:01

ontobelli
Member
From: Mexico City
Registered: 2011-02-06
Posts: 127

Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

You should try Porteus http://porteus.org/ or even Puppy http://www.puppylinux.com/ they are designed to work fine and FAST on USB sticks.

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#7 2012-09-20 00:25:17

Trilby
Forum Moderator
From: Massachusetts, USA
Registered: 2011-11-29
Posts: 14,191
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Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

I'm a bit confused by this.  Just because arch is a rolling release doesn't mean you are *required* to update frequently.  Put an up-to-date arch system on the usb drive, then don't update it for 6 months.  It will probably still be more "up to date" than many release based distros.  So if the only limitation of arch is that you don't want to update all the time, then use arch, and just don't update all the time.

If there are other factors, though, I often recommend slitaz as a *very* lightweight yet full featured distro.  Slitaz's tazpkg is a pretty nice package manager too - it's certainly no pacman but it was my favorite package manager before I found arch+pacman.


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#8 2012-09-20 04:01:08

ZekeSulastin
Member
Registered: 2010-09-20
Posts: 266

Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

Trilby wrote:

then don't update it for 6 months

I'd probably shoot for something more like "every time an update makes the site News" if you don't want to update often, otherwise the major ones start to add up hmm

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#9 2012-09-20 17:31:08

sitquietly
Member
From: Moscow, Tennessee
Registered: 2010-07-12
Posts: 216

Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

szim90 wrote:

.....does anyone have any recommendations for an Arch-like distribution (minimalist, easy-to-modify packages, well documented) that's isn't rolling? Right now, I'm leaning towards trying BSD, but I'm concerned about potential driver problems (since it appears there are few proprietary drivers available for BSD). Does anyone have any other ideas?

Thanks for any help in this matter.

Calculate Linux Scratch is a bit like what you're looking for.  I would describe it as a binary distro, like Arch, but is semi-rolling. They have periodic point releases, currently at 12.03 with 13.0 due in December.  It is very flexible like Arch because it is built on Gentoo and uses portage.  I installed the Calculate Linux Desktop 12.03 (has KDE 4.9) recently alongside my Archlinux.  The gui installer was very flexible and worked well.  Calculate looks pretty, nice boot splash big_smile, runs well, and can be maintained as a binary distro.  In a week's use it looks like package updates are much less frequent than in Arch.  It could be a suitable choice for you.

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#10 2012-10-06 23:06:33

szim90
Member
Registered: 2011-08-01
Posts: 29

Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

I think the forum auto-mailer may have failed me... Regardless, thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

The main reason I was concerned about keeping Arch and simply not updating is that, when I did that over this past summer, I got hit with several "intervention required" updates all at once. However, I think if I do as ZekeSulastin suggested and simply update on major news updates, I think I can probably stick with Arch.

That being said, I'm definitely going to look into both slitaz and Calculate Linux - slitaz definitely seems the most "pacman-like" of the package managers I've seen (especially in regard to package generation) and Calculate just strikes me as interesting (Gentoo without compiling everything).

Thanks again!

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#11 2012-10-06 23:19:34

karol
Archivist
Registered: 2009-05-06
Posts: 25,432

Re: Suggestions for an Arch-Like Non-Rolling Distro for a Flash Drive

szim90 wrote:

I think the forum auto-mailer may have failed me...

* Check your forum profile options, maybe you were not automatically subscribed.
* Check the spam folder in your e-mail client.

IIRC slitaz has the option of using the distro as a liveUSB with persistent changes stored separately - the edited configs and new data is nicely compressed and saved to your pendrive. It sounds even better than saving thousands of files every major Arch update, the downside being older package versions, unless you want to "cook" new ones yourself.

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