USB drive on server?

Mikkel L. Ellertson mikkel at
Fri Oct 26 14:16:10 UTC 2007

Timothy Murphy wrote:
> I was looking again at the specs for the OLPC machine
> at <>
> and I see that this states explicitly "Drives: No rotating media".
> As far as I can see it has a 1GB flash drive.
> As I understand it, this machine - do any actually exist? - runs Linux.
> I wonder if this Linux is specially adapted in some way to use flash drives?
Yes, they exist. The BETA versions have been in the hands of some
groups of children for a while, and the "finished" version is
supposed to be on sale in November. The deal is that people in
"developed" countries can buy 2, with one going to them, and one
going to a child in a "developing" country.

> I see the Asus Eee PC (perhaps a virtual machine?) also uses a flash drive
> according to <>.
> I'm still puzzled by the two entirely different takes on flash drives -
> on the one hand, developments like OLPC seem to take them for granted,
> while on the other people say they will have a short life.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is more then one type of
flash drive. There are trade offs between the number of writes, and
write speed. One way you can extend the life in applications like
laptops is to buffer the writes in RAM, and flash the entire memory
at once when you shutdown.

I have not kept up on flash memory developments, but in the past,
the devices that required you to flash the memory as one unit
offered more writes, while being a lot slower to write to. There
were also random write capable devices that traded write speed for
increased number of write cycles.

A write rate that would not be acceptable in a USB flash drive may
be acceptable in a laptop drive where buffering writes in RAM can be
used because you do not have to worry about the user removing the
drive. Could you picture most peoples reactions if they had to wait
2 minutes or more before they could remove their flash drive? But
for a built-in drive in a laptop, you can even do things like write
to the drive after the laptop is "off". (Suspended, hibernating, or


  Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
for thou art crunchy and taste good with Ketchup!

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