Can openSUSE 12.3 be installed on a USB thumb drive as a hard drive?

I have an old Dell Pentium 4 CPU I am trying to set up as a (gateway) server and since it is going to be on 24/7 I was thinking I would unplug all of the components I don’t need (DVD-drive, floppy drive). Instead of using an IDE hard drive I was thinking I could set up the operating system (openSUSE 12.3) on a USB Thumb (flash) drive and run 100% from there.

Just to make sure it is clear, this is NOT an SSD drive.

  1. Is this feasible to install on the USB Flash drive, or just inheritantly not going to work?
  2. Do I need to install anything special to make it work on a non-spinning hard drive (like SSD-orientated tools)?
  3. Is it just going to burn out my USB flash drive?

I hope to replace this in the near future with a Raspberry Pi (w/network dongle) so that it will not use much elelctricity. I see the page on openSUSE on the Raspberry Pi here ( and links to images here (Raspberry Pi • View topic - OpenSuSE 12.3 betta-test Images) but that is a subject for another thread.

That should be doable. I’m not sure why you would want to do that.

Your IDE disk is likely to be faster and more reliable.

I currently have an old 80G IDE drive in an external disk enclosure. It is noticeably faster than flash drives, though slow compared to SATA drives.

I know the IDE should be faster and more reliable (depending on the disk…), but I was hoping to reduce the electricity draw of the system. There aren’t too many clients on the Internet at the same time so I speed should not be as big of a factor.

This does bring up the question, then, as to how much electricity does the (older) IDE drive draw in the first place? It may not be a substantial enough of a savings to warrant slowing it down and eventual burnout of the USB Thumb Drive.

Flash drive ware out fast. Unlike SSD they don’t normally have ware leveling software. So lots of writes will ware them out. And as a rule there are a lot of writes even on a rather static system. For low power and relatively good reliability use a SSD. Also they are slow compared to SSD/HD. But if you want to rely on a $10 throw away device go for it.