Pen drive size to put Ubuntu on

Sandy Harris sandyinchina at
Thu Dec 11 23:57:34 UTC 2008

Dotan Cohen <dotancohen at> wrote:

>> My mother has a really slow P4 1,5 ghz XP computer. I wanted to give here a
>> pen drive with Ubuntu on for Christmas, so that she can have a fast computer
>> igain.  ...

> While your goal is noble, your way is wrong.
> You will not make her Windows XP computer faster by installing Ubuntu
> on a pen drive for her. If you want her to have a more responsive
> computer, then an Ubuntu insallation on the hard disk _may_ be more
> responsive than XP on the same hardware. Maybe not. And an Ubuntu
> installation booting from a USB drive will _not_ be more responsive
> than a properly configured Windows XP installation.
> Either fix her Windows installation or install Ubuntu on the hard drive.

Dotan's right. Flash is faster than disk down at the underlying device
level, but a USB stick is much slower than a hard drive. Even a hard
drive is noticeably slower with a USB interface than in the machine.

One solution would be to use a USB stick to back up her important
files, then wipe XP (make sure you have an XP disk to re-install in
case she does not like Linux!), install Ubuntu, and add her files.

Have you got a spare disk, maybe in another older machine? If so,
another solution is to put that in her machine, giving you space to
install Ubuntu without destroying her XP. I'd say this is preferable
if it is possible. If it turns out she loves Ubuntu, you can always
re-format the XP drive later.

Buy her a disk? Or buy yourself one and give her your old one?
If her machine has IDE (parallel ATA) drives, switching to SATA
will give a significant speed boost. For some older machines,
you'd need to add a SATA controller; those are cheap.

In any case, consider Xubuntu instead of standard Ubuntu. It
uses a diffeent window manager, smaller and lighter.

Sandy Harris,
Quanzhou, Fujian, China

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