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December 20, 2004 1:26 PM   Subscribe

What do you keep on your USB thumbdrive? Maybe you want to turn yours into a dual boot drive. Or maybe you want to keep a special portable Firefox implementation, including extensions, on there.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders (14 comments total)
How about some tinyapps?
posted by Kikkoman at 1:29 PM on December 20, 2004

Flash keys have a limited number of write cycles on them. Most OSes make heavy use of swap files, which will mean eating up your flash key pretty quickly. Unless you can disable use of virtual memory paging I'd save your flash keys for other uses. YMMV.
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:32 PM on December 20, 2004


I don't know about Hiren's BootCD, but DSL is based on Knoppix, which doesn't swap by default unless it detects a Linux swap partition on the host machine. It can be made to use a swap file on a Windows partition, too.

I would guess that most of these bootable usb thumbdrive distributions are based on bootable CD distributions: you wouldn't expect them to swap to the boot media, since it would be assumed to be read-only.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:56 PM on December 20, 2004

I guess I'm thinking more along the lines of an OS X or Windows flash disk. I imagine in Linux, Solaris etc. you have more control over these options.
posted by AlexReynolds at 1:59 PM on December 20, 2004

Try some of these.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:08 PM on December 20, 2004

I thought those things were only for porn.

Didn't some major publication try to launch that idea a few months ago?
posted by milovoo at 2:25 PM on December 20, 2004

posted by m0nm0n at 2:40 PM on December 20, 2004

Has anyone ever experienced their flash drive dying from regular usage? I'm just curious. I use mine fairly often, but perhaps I just haven't owned it long enough? Are flash drives in general old enough technology for us to start seeing failures?

As for what you can do with it, I keep firefox, adaware, and f-prot on mine, especially during the holidays when I visit friends and family who inevitably ask me to solve their spyware/virus infestations.

With Knoppix, you can use the flash drive as your home directory in concert with a bootable CD. In addition, you can encrypt your entire disk very easily, which is automatically unencrypted when you boot the CD while the disk is plugged in (provided you supply the passphrase, of course).

What's so neat about that is the fact that the drive appears completely unused if you encrypt the entire thing. It appears as though nothing at all is on it. A bit of a problem - don't format it in windows, of course, or you obviously lose all the data. Also don't plug it into an xbox - the formatting is done automatically without confirmation.

That reminds me of another use for those flash drives! You can use them to perform soft-modding of xboxes. I wrote a nice howto on xbox-scene forums, but it's down at the moment. If you were interested, just search for my username once it comes back up, and you should find it easily enough.
posted by odinsdream at 3:49 PM on December 20, 2004

In normal use-as-long-term-storage use it shouldn't be a problem, they usually survive 10k-100k write cycles. And then there's some internal move-stuff-about-routine that tries to make the write cycles be evenly distributed over the entire flash. It's only when you start updating things frequently (as in: not manually) it starts hurting.
posted by fvw at 5:13 PM on December 20, 2004

I personally think this is the bomb.
thanks a lot.

this kind of programming is the one which impresses me most. IM on flash drives, so as to circumvent a workplace ban on IM use, remote browser control, I love it.
posted by Busithoth at 8:13 PM on December 20, 2004

I keep my GPG key on my flash drive. Just made a symbolic link from ~/.gnupg -> /Volumes/KEY/.gnupg, works like a charm. The nice thing is I can move between computers and take my keydrive with me and have access to my GPG key without having to leave private keys all over the place.

I'd like to be able to do something similar with whatever OS X uses to authenticate, so I could restrict logon access to whenever the keydrive is actually plugged in, but I haven't figured that one out yet. Plus, that setup doesn't seem to play too nice with other people who share my compooter.

The only real problem is that the tinfoil kinda messes up my hair sometimes...
posted by jimray at 10:03 PM on December 20, 2004

Let's see ...
  • Flash Drives
  • Key Drives
  • Cruzers
  • Stick Drives
  • Thumb Drives
These are GREAT!! but I think the first order of business is to agree on a name.
posted by RavinDave at 10:14 PM on December 20, 2004

RavinDave, personally I prefer the name "flash drive" since it describes the type of memory you're using, rather than just being a marketing term, which all of the others are.
posted by odinsdream at 12:26 PM on December 21, 2004

>I thought those things were only for porn.
> Didn't some major publication try to launch that idea a few months ago?

I remember a spate of USB drive hysteria articles too sometime last year - haven't been able to find the original (if there was one), but this piece sums up the tenor of the arguments. Not only are flash/USB/thumb drives a favorite tool of child pornographers - they're apparently all the rage among drug dealers as well!

The article also calls them "cigar drives" - don't think I've heard that term used before, or since. But it's kinda cute. (Insert Dr. Freud joke here.)
posted by contraposto at 9:50 PM on December 21, 2004

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