Berryboot to USB – Not Impressed

Color me “not impressed” with Raspbian from a USB stick.

To see how it might be useful, I’ve done an install. ( 4 different OSs on one stick. Arch, Debian, Puppy, and the PXE boot loader).

This is the listing for the /boot partition on the SC card:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ ls /boot
bcm2708-rpi-b.dtb       cmdline.txt   kernel_rpi2_aufs.img  start.elf
bcm2708-rpi-b-plus.dtb  config.txt    LICENSE.berryboot     start_x.elf
bcm2709-rpi-2-b.dtb     fixup_cd.dat  overlays              uEnv.txt
berryboot.img           fixup.dat     shared.tgz
bootcode.bin            fixup_x.dat   start_cd.elf

Not much on the card. Just the stuff hauled over from the BBoot loader area and a boot kernel image.

Here’s the df so you can see the “disk” used:

pi@raspberrypi ~ $ df
Filesystem     1K-blocks    Used Available Use% Mounted on
dev               431696       0    431696   0% /dev
none            15464360 1857056  12798708  13% /
tmpfs             441376       0    441376   0% /dev/shm
tmpfs             441376   11556    429820   3% /run
tmpfs               5120       4      5116   1% /run/lock
tmpfs             441376       0    441376   0% /sys/fs/cgroup
/dev/mmcblk0p1   3860600   35380   3825220   1% /boot
tmpfs              88276       0     88276   0% /run/user/1000
/dev/sda1       15464360 1857056  12798708  13% /media/pi/berryboot

The / (root) partition and /media/pi/berryboot are both the same thing and they are the USB stick. I used a 16 GB PNY stick that I bought about a year ago.

First off, attempting to install “encrypted” failed on the disk format. No idea why. Unclicking the ‘encrypted’ box and all went fine.

So no real benefit to the user desiring privacy, IMHO.

Next up, in ‘typical’ web browser use, it has occasional significant pauses.

The USB stick seems to be VERY much slower than my Class 10 SD cards. I’ve not seen speed ratings on most USB Sticks ( my Monster brand does brag and is very fast ;-) so I might try an install to one of theirs “someday”…) and we’ve already identified that PNY “has issues” on lots of writes. So it might just be the particular stick I’m using.

But the long and short of it is that the thing is a bit annoying to use. Not quite painful, but you are reminded that it is lurking nearby…

Notice that /boot takes only 35.4 MB of space. This means that if you have some old 512 MB or even 128 MB SD cards you can use them for the boot part that stays on the R.Pi and give them a new life. I’m going to re-do this test “someday” with a fast Class 10 SD card in the USB adapter (replacing the stick) and see if that makes a difference. And see if it will encrypt.

Also note that I put 4 OSs into 1.8 GB of space used on the stick. It doesn’t take a giant stick to make this go. I may go looking for another Monster stick and see if I can get their fast one (80 MB / sec?) in an 8 GB size. It’s a USB 3.0, so likely a lot faster than this 2.0 from a so-so maker… even in a 2.0 port.

So I’ve not completely written off the USB stick booting (and maybe even a real USB disk booting… once I have one where the mandatory whole disk formatting doesn’t cause me grief…), but I’m just not feeling the love or seeing much benefit from it at the moment.

With that, I’m going to shutdown this one and go back to my regular chip. (Yes, I’m posting this from the USB install Raspbian).

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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2 Responses to Berryboot to USB – Not Impressed

  1. Wayne Job says:

    Hi Chief,
    Over the next couple of weeks we will be finalising some experiments that have been around forty years in the making. The results so far have been spectacular, two more to go starting on the morrow. The results so far put a large dint in settled science, we need to disseminate far and wide, I would like you to have all relevant data and to put your brain to our results. Wayne

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Wayne:

    Happy to. I’ll send an email…

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