Mobile Linux Setup and Ideas

I got one of these (USB micro SDHC reader):

And get pretty decent speeds and low access times off of a 16GB Class 10 micro SDHC from Transcend.

The idea is to have a mobile (if slow) distro of Ubuntu to run around and download drivers/etc to troubleshoot Windows machines. I have both usb/ethernet and usb/wifi adapters with all the drivers loaded so I can use almost any PC. I need a Windows-browsable NTFS filesystem, and figured why not have it on board. I partitioned 6GB for Ubuntu 11.10, left 2 GB for swap, and have 8GB formatted NTFS (HPFS/NTFS (0x07)) for shared data drive.

Ubuntu can access the NTFS partition fine, but Windows sees the drive and wants to format it. I have a feeling I need to have the NTFS partition as the first partition and then set the UUID of the Ubuntu partition in GRUB to boot to that (instead of dev/sda). But from experience with dual boot, installing windows first, then Ubuntu, and setting an NTFS partition (after Windows and Ubuntu/swap) in windows seems to always work.

Besides insight on partition types, what I ask is if this solution is liveable and if others do the same? If not, what do you suggest?

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  1. Fixed the NTFS recognition issue by using GParted instead of the disk utility native to Ubuntu. 8GB of NTFS, 6GB of EXT2, 2GB of swap, in that order. Set mount point of EXT2 to "/" upon installing Ubuntu and everything was fine. Now doing updates.

    Still seems slow, even compared to USB HDDs, oddly. Is this the USB 2.0 bus limitation I'm seeing? Most PCs I'm working on don't have USB 3.0, so something like an OCZ Enyo wouldn't be that useful would it? Maybe an ExpressCard/PCMCIA setup or ESATA for laptops, and just live with a SATA connection for desktops. Would love to hear any ideas or suggestions.

    (Maybe I'm being too demanding (used to SSDs now :D), because updates ARE almost done)

  2. Simple solution would just be to just use Fat32.
  3. Is FAT32 faster on flash storage? I've used NTFS wherever I can because I've always seen FAT32 as "inferior" (not to mention 4GB file caps, which I probably won't run into as I've only got 8GB to use anyway). I've also heard that NTFS wears out flash devices faster than FAT32, but doesn't that mostly have to do with block/sector size and your typical use?

    Thanks again.
  4. Best answer
    I'd have thought FAT32 would be faster due to it's highly simple nature and lack of support for things like owner flags. That said I've never seen any benchmarks done. If you're on flash then setting mount options such as noatime can reduce writes and possibly give you a little bit more performance but the options depend on the file system you use.

    Having had a bit of a search you might want to read this:

    It's also probably worth spending some time looking at mount options:

    No short answer really but it's something I'd be interested to hear your results with.
  5. I though this was interesting and worth looking into, so a little testing was in order.


    Controls: [Atto Disk Benchmark, 256 MB, 0.5 to 8192 kb, Overlapped IO, queue depth 4]

    8GB Primary partition on Transcend 16GB micro SDHC Class 10, FAT32 before aligning:

    8GB Primary partition on Transcend 16GB micro SDHC Class 10, FAT32 after aligning (as per link above):

    8GB Primary partition on Transcend 16GB micro SDHC Class 10, NTFS:

    8GB Primary partition on Transcend 16GB micro SDHC Class 10, exFAT:


    Sorta shocked by the results, FAT32 unaligned specifically. Looks like aligning the FAT to the sectors helped bring back the performance. Thanks for the link!
    It also seems NTFS has a bit less transfer speeds with larger transfers, but still pulls ahead in 4K.

    Ubuntu doesn't recognize exFAT, so I guess I will stick with an aligned FAT32.

    Thanks again.
  6. Wowa! I'm impressed. I might well have to have a play at that game myself. The 4k gain may well be due to the default cluster size on NTFS being 4096 bytes. You do get the option to change that on format in Windows. I've doubled it on a media drive with files that average ~20-30mb before now and it did seem to help.

    Have you tried the mount options yet in fstab? Having tried some of them with the SSD on an old epc of my brothers it did seem a bit quicker with noatime and a couple of other options although I never bothered to benchmark as it was more about reducing writes for a longer life with what was a very much first generation device.
  7. I didn't see much difference in performance with noatime checked as a mount option, but I'm sure it reduces I/O, so its worth setting up.

    Thanks again.
  8. Best answer selected by TdiT.
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