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LiamOS
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:00 am    Post subject: An Alternative to Live USB Media Reply with quote

For quite some time I used Live USB drives a lot, be it for rescuing my system after it fell victim to my idiocy, installing Gentoo, or using somebody else's laptop and not wanting to have to use Windows.


I now installed Gentoo on my USB drive on a second partition(~20G), and use that instead. It has a choice between a genkernel kernel(latest Gentoo sources) and an Ubuntu kernel(just incase), and mounts a lot of the filesystem in tmpfs for speed.
The advantages over a live distribution are obvious:
- You have all the packages you want; you can have a crazy shell, whatever DE you feel like, etc.
- Your USB can be upgraded when new kernels/packages/bugfixes become available. Great if you want the latest kernel, btrfs-progs, or like to build from git.
- Specifically for Gentoo, you'll have a Portage snapshot on hand for all your installations, as well as the base distfiles, and the guts of a stage3.
- You can decide whether your data will carry over from boot to boot or not, or have some carry over and some not.

I'm not really aware of any disadvantages, but they probably exist.


Does anybody else do something similar?
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likewhoa
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

future livedvd and eventually future minimal install cds will allow for persistent data on writable devices, so what this means is that you'll be able to emerge whatever packages you wants on the install media and retain those changes on a reboot just the same way you described with your usb stick, but this media would be maintained by the Gentoo Release Engineering Team.

The next livedvd will allow for full / persistent data if it's released before the end of the world ;)
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Yamakuzure
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey LiamOS,

no, I do not do it like that, yet. Another idea to reduce the amount of needed space migh be squash_dir (from mv overlay via layman).

Currently I use SysrescCD on an USB Key for emergency boot. I don't want to carry around CDs/DVDs, so those media are no alternative for me.

But I never had the idea to actually *install* gentoo on an USB Key. My Key has 16GB, that should be enough, right? I might as well try it out.

What are you using as a boot manager? sys-boot/syslinux ?
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LiamOS
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 14, 2012 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yamakuzure wrote:
Hey LiamOS,

no, I do not do it like that, yet. Another idea to reduce the amount of needed space migh be squash_dir (from mv overlay via layman).

Currently I use SysrescCD on an USB Key for emergency boot. I don't want to carry around CDs/DVDs, so those media are no alternative for me.

But I never had the idea to actually *install* gentoo on an USB Key. My Key has 16GB, that should be enough, right? I might as well try it out.

What are you using as a boot manager? sys-boot/syslinux ?

16GB is more than enough. I use grub2 to boot, and it works very nicely, even from a USB. It's also an easy choice since I'm already familiar with using it.

I'll definitely have a look into squash_dir. Space is currently a non-issue for me, but it might help with access times.

EDIT: If you're short on space, you could also compile on your main machine, meaning you don't need gcc etc. If you had a minimal system, you could probably even get away without python and portage on the USB.
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Yamakuzure
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Currently I have a regular minimum install. (Handbook until the first boot) on my usb key. I decided to use extlinux as a boot loader, as it really doesn't need much and is pretty easy to install. But if it wasn't as easy as I thought, I am familiar with grub2 as well.

The key will be updated in a chroot from my laptop. So I can --rbind mount my distfiles and portage build directory. But if I need to emerge something from inside an emergency boot, I could do as well.

Currently I am thinking about which DE to use. SysRescCD uses XFCE, but I guess that is too much. Hmm.. maybe a simple OpenBox will do. I don't need much on that. But as I need gparted, I'll need gtk+ anyway, so I could use lxpanel with OpenBox. This plus compton does make a rather nice DE.
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