I inherited a relatively high end 15" laptop years ago, and when I swapped out a hard disk I tore the small zif-like socked from the mainboard the hdd attaches to. Its not really practical to repair, so I needed to find an alternative. I thought about a USB install, bur for various reasons not practical to do this with windows 10.
I read about MX linux which is based on Antix and has some development around USB sticks installs so I took the plunge on a USB 3.1 sandisk ultra fit. I chose this because it has a very low side profile – and unlikely to get knocked/ damage usb port when in daily use. The laptop pre-dates 3.1 so the slot was 3.0. Therefore running at 3.0 speeds.
The only other USB based OS experiences I had were unraid and openelec. Both were positive, but they are tiny os's and run pretty much in RAM, so not taxing at all to storage medium. Full-blown desktop os doing grown up computing a different scenario. I really had no idea how that would play out.
The initial install went pretty much as expected. I set up the software I needed and tweaked the OS /desktop to my preferences. After a bit of use (couple days) I was noticing fairly regular micro-pauses while working. Not a deal breaker, but not optimal either.
I figured this was due to disk access load so opted to split /home off onto a second drive. I purchased another 3.1 sandisk and did this, which solved the issue. Subsequently the experience was smooth and responsive.
Use of the machine is mainly document editing, some graphic design, a bit of video editing, lots of internet surfing, some vm stuff.
At the outset I imaged the OS usb, expecting to have to replace it every few months and wanting a quick deployment method.
I carry around a spare in my laptop bag just in case.
In 18 months of near daily use I have swapped out the usb due to failure once. This surprised me TBQH. I did not expect it to be reliable.
Speed feels to me faster than a 5400rpm hdd. Seems quicker and more responsive, but have not run any objective measures. It feels like an SSD to use.
OS USB is 32gb and that is – as it turns out – ample room for the os (about 6 months ago I swapped to Ubuntu Server with XFCE as the desktop) – I love this about it. The USB stick was $11AUD.
Reliability has been excellent. Its been reliable, which was NOT what I expected.
Mainly posting this as i have not seen a lot of this sort of thing posted and thought others might be interested to hear how it went. I doubt many people would want to run out and try it, but I hope its interesting for anyone curious.
Linux is an amazing OS to be so versatile. Its allowed me to keep this l aptop going where otherwise I would have been up for either a costly mainboard or machine replacement. I feel really fortunate to have this option and so pleased with the experience.