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Running Slax from USB Flash keys

Is Slax much slower from USB?

In general, Slax is faster from USB than from CD. You just have to use the right USB key. Older devices (usually for USB version 1.1) are really slow and will make you troubles. Even reading from such devices is slow. Newer devices work just fine with Slax, and those with 'ReadyBoost' are the best ones. I've seen booting from SanDisk Cruzer in less then 40 seconds to full GUI, with no further slowdowns even during the system operation.


What can make your USB flash key corrupted?

In general, all filesystems are predisposed for data loss in bad situations. If you unplug the USB key from your computer before Slax finishes its shutdown procedures, or if you poweroff the computer while Slax writes something to the device, you may lost data or get the entire filesystem corrupted. FAT filesystem (widely used on almost all USB flash keys, MP3 players and Cameras) is the most vulnerable one. Anyway, if a filesystem gets damaged, it's not permanent.

As you may know, USB flash keys have individually erasable segments, each of which can be put through a finite number (for example 100 000) of write cycles before becoming unreliable. Conventional file systems like FAT or ext2 were originally designed for magnetic disks and as such rewrite many of their data structures repeatedly in the same place. The damaged segment can't be recovered. This type of corruption is permanent.

To avoid filesystem damages, always make sure to shutdown or reboot correctly. If you boot Slax from a different device and use the USB key only as a storage medium, always make sure to unmount it properly before unplugging. If you can, use some journaling filesystems (like XFS) instead of FAT or ext2. And always use only devices with support for 'wear levelling', designed to distribute the re-writes across the medium, in order to prolong its life.


How to fix a corrupted filesystem?

As mentioned in the previous section, FAT filesystem is the most vulnerable one. If Linux detects a corruption, it will remount it read-only to prevent further damage. To fix the problem, use:

dosfsck -wa /dev/hdb1

Replace hdb1 by your own partition name, of course. If you get an error message that there are differences between boot sector and its backup, don't worry about that, it's not any problem. The utility will simply skip that and will continue fixing all the other errors.

Slax is generously supported by: P&P Software GmbH and wisol technologie GmbH