Best OS version for USB flash install ...


What is the best OS version to install on a USB flash?
The objective is to have a PC that serves as a backup raid computer and it must be powered on only for a limited amount of time say, a couple of hours once or twice a week.

The problem is I will install the OS on a flash USB, and disk writes will degrade that same flash memory.
Of course after the install I can make copies of the flash having several identical “mirror” flash usb pens.
Hence a failure will not be a problem.

The issue is if the Live CD version is better for this then the regular OpenSuSE DVD/net install.
As the flash will boot with the changes made to support any modification on my system, or would it be better to have a custom made install on the Flash with the normal DVD and a careful planned set of partition types and scheme?


I don’t know the best…
But I have knoppix and man is it quick:)

If you are looking at suse/redhat, the best is to get unetbootin from the open build service and try some of the live versions.
Ubuntu and mint will do a usb install from the live cd. They have the beauty in that they use casper to give you storage space on the usb drive and you can install extra software you need.
If you want a small distro based on slackware, slax works well.
I don’t think there is a ‘best’ solution, since it depends on what you want, so play till you find one that you like.


I already tried the following ones and they all worked …

Knopix cd … very very good. But 32 bit only …
Puppy Linux, same …

the more “mainstream” distros if one can call them that …

I installed from the Live version to USB flash (using it like a normal hdd install) OpenSuSE x86_64 11.1 … works great.

Then I used unetbootin to install Ubuntu 8.10 … cool! It worked after a long time and many many attempts … i really do not know why but My flash USB installed the thing and after the first kernel up-grade it did not boot anymore … go figure.
Ubuntu 9.04 is ok.

The same happened to my OpenSuSE 11.1 Live netbootin install.

But now I managed to install all those flavors in a stable manner.

But my doubt remains:

1- Is it better to install on USB like a regular OS on a hdd? Meaning, I would make the partitions and choose a partititon type and them just place there /boot , swap, / and the like.
2- Just use the unetbootin install and use the USB flash as a live CD replacement ?
This is only advantageous to me because flash can persist config and data …

I fear that a “regular” non-Live cd install on flash would cause a lot of usb flash failures due to the severe use of that media from OS services/deamons that are always writing on disk …
That is my only issue …

I have read that Knopix and Puppy Linux save a lot in this respect.


I’ve tried UNetbootin, though it doesn’t fully seem to work with openSUSE.

Currently I have DreamLinux on it and it works very nicely. Includes WICD for networking and the broadcom drivers so I don’t have to download them each session.

The best thing to do is make sure you make a persistent partition. The Fedora installer is one that allows you to set up one during installation. Too bad my USB drive doesn’t seem to work whenever I try partitioning it.


Strange … my first installs with unetbootin did not work either, I am not sure but the problem seems to be relate to the flash format type.
As that did not work I then changed to make “regular” installs with several partitions: /boot ext3; swap; / ext3, on usb flash and that runs always perfect. No problems whatsoever.

I did that from OpenSuSE 11.1 x86_64 KDE (and also Gnome live CD ) …
That always worked ok for me.

I thought about installing the normal DVD (must pick up a dvd drive first) but just with the basic text-only install … the purpose of this machine is to have a simple NAS PC so … text mode will do nicely


I never got unetbootin to work properly on 64-bit versions, but it works fine in opensuse 32-bit versions.


Yes, once you install the thing and boot from usb flash it gives a message … something of the sort … no OS files on disk, or your disk does not contain OS boot files …
Something like that.
That is strange as in principle both installs follow the same steps …


Personally I feel the best one is ubuntu for this, I have been able to create USB flash installs with ease on Ubuntu.
I never tried creating one in OpenSuse so I cant comment on it but I know in ubuntu there are handy tools for it in Ibex and Jaunty.

Might be worth looking at Arch or something.

It has the advantage of starting from a very minimal system, and building up from there, so it’s quick, and you won’t have unnecessary packages cluttering up (or frying ;)) your stick.