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Discussion on: Ubuntu Linux installation to a USB external drive with EFI boot

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geraldew Author • Edited on

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Some other points that came up while I responded to a related posting elsewhere, that I thought worth adding here.

Will USB2 be ok for this?

Yes. Will USB3 be noticeably better? Yes.

What size USB drive is required?

While my article is mainly about using hard drives, I do also use the same technique with USB "thumb" drives - i.e. memory sticks. I have a 16GB one with Ubuntu 20.04 on it, and have had to run a cleanup script a couple of times to make room for updates to work. FWIW the culprit is Snap. I also maintain a 64GB thumb drive with Ubuntu 20.04 without that problem. At a guess, a 32GB might be minimum size to recommend.

Watch out!

Lately, USB hard drives on the market are coming as Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR) rather than the older Conventional Magnetic Recording (CMR).

I can vouch that SMR drives are NOT suitable for use as bases for a running system. The symptom you'll encounter is that your system will just pause for ten seconds at a time while the drive reshuffles the shingles on write.

Alas, like EFI, that becomes a whole other topic and is controversial as manufacturers are being neither open nor clear about which they are using.