Homemade 120 gb Flash Drive for $30, Burns antiX Full in 15 seconds

Forum Forums General Tips and Tricks Homemade 120 gb Flash Drive for $30, Burns antiX Full in 15 seconds

  • This topic has 12 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated Sep 16-1:24 am by ModdIt.
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  • #26600

    For about the same price as a flash drive, I got a used 500+ mb/sec Crucial BX500 120 gb SSD drive for $23 and mounted it in a high speed 2.5″ SATA USB 3.0 BLK Hard Drive Disk Enclosure that I got for $7. There are smaller drives available for cheaper, but make sure it has 6.0 gb SATA III and read/write speeds over 500 mb/sec.

    Talk about FAST. It will burn a distro in 15 seconds!!!


    Oh, well, then show

    hdparm -I /dev/sda
    hdparm -tT /dev/sda
    hdparm -tT --direct /dev/sda

    The homemade one did not perform as well as hoped, but pretty good. My best normal flashdrive was not happy that I asked…

    I built 3 so far, from SSD’s that had been replaced or are waiting to replace aging HD’s when I get time. And I bought a case for a 4th Samsung EVO 850 (which is mSATA, bought by mistake) on the way.

    I got tired of the slow flashdrives. Even the fastest ones are slow compared to these.

    $ sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdc
    [sudo] password for bobc: 
    ATA device, with non-removable media
    	Model Number:       Crucial_CT256MX100SSD1                  
    	Serial Number:      14340CFFC597
    	Firmware Revision:  MU01    
    	Transport:          Serial, ATA8-AST, SATA 1.0a, SATA II Extensions, SATA Rev 2.5, SATA Rev 2.6, SATA Rev 3.0
    	Used: unknown (minor revision code 0x0028) 
    	Supported: 9 8 7 6 5 
    	Likely used: 9
    	Logical		max	current
    	cylinders	16383	16383
    	heads		16	16
    	sectors/track	63	63
    	CHS current addressable sectors:    16514064
    	LBA    user addressable sectors:   268435455
    	LBA48  user addressable sectors:   500118192
    	Logical  Sector size:                   512 bytes
    	Physical Sector size:                  4096 bytes
    	Logical Sector-0 offset:                  0 bytes
    	device size with M = 1024*1024:      244198 MBytes
    	device size with M = 1000*1000:      256060 MBytes (256 GB)
    	cache/buffer size  = unknown
    	Form Factor: 2.5 inch
    	Nominal Media Rotation Rate: Solid State Device
    	LBA, IORDY(can be disabled)
    	Queue depth: 32
    	Standby timer values: spec'd by Standard, with device specific minimum
    	R/W multiple sector transfer: Max = 16	Current = 16
    	Advanced power management level: 254
    	DMA: mdma0 mdma1 mdma2 udma0 udma1 udma2 udma3 udma4 udma5 *udma6 
    	     Cycle time: min=120ns recommended=120ns
    	PIO: pio0 pio1 pio2 pio3 pio4 
    	     Cycle time: no flow control=120ns  IORDY flow control=120ns
    	Enabled	Supported:
    	   *	SMART feature set
    	    	Security Mode feature set
    	   *	Power Management feature set
    	   *	Write cache
    	   *	Look-ahead
    	   *	Host Protected Area feature set
    	   *	WRITE_BUFFER command
    	   *	READ_BUFFER command
    	   *	NOP cmd
    	   *	Advanced Power Management feature set
    	    	SET_MAX security extension
    	   *	48-bit Address feature set
    	   *	Device Configuration Overlay feature set
    	   *	Mandatory FLUSH_CACHE
    	   *	SMART error logging
    	   *	SMART self-test
    	   *	General Purpose Logging feature set
    	   *	64-bit World wide name
    	    	Write-Read-Verify feature set
    	   *	{READ,WRITE}_DMA_EXT_GPL commands
    	   *	Segmented DOWNLOAD_MICROCODE
    	   *	Gen1 signaling speed (1.5Gb/s)
    	   *	Gen2 signaling speed (3.0Gb/s)
    	   *	Gen3 signaling speed (6.0Gb/s)
    	   *	Native Command Queueing (NCQ)
    	   *	Phy event counters
    	   *	NCQ priority information
    	   *	READ_LOG_DMA_EXT equivalent to READ_LOG_EXT
    	    	DMA Setup Auto-Activate optimization
    	    	Device-initiated interface power management
    	    	Asynchronous notification (eg. media change)
    	    	Software settings preservation
    	    	Device Sleep (DEVSLP)
    	   *	SMART Command Transport (SCT) feature set
    	   *	SCT Write Same (AC2)
    	   *	SCT Features Control (AC4)
    	   *	SCT Data Tables (AC5)
    	   *	SANITIZE feature set
    	   *	CRYPTO_SCRAMBLE_EXT command
    	   *	BLOCK_ERASE_EXT command
    	   *	reserved 69[4]
    	   *	reserved 69[7]
    	   *	Data Set Management TRIM supported (limit 8 blocks)
    	   *	Deterministic read ZEROs after TRIM
    	Master password revision code = 65534
    	not	enabled
    	not	locked
    	not	frozen
    	not	expired: security count
    		supported: enhanced erase
    Logical Unit WWN Device Identifier: 500a07510cffc597
    	NAA		: 5
    	IEEE OUI	: 00a075
    	Unique ID	: 10cffc597
    Device Sleep:
    	DEVSLP Exit Timeout (DETO): 50 ms (drive)
    	Minimum DEVSLP Assertion Time (MDAT): 10 ms (drive)
    Checksum: correct
    $ sudo hdparm -t /dev/sdc
     Timing buffered disk reads: 1016 MB in  3.00 seconds = 338.50 MB/sec
    $ sudo hdparm -t --direct /dev/sdc
     Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 1188 MB in  3.00 seconds = 395.89 MB/sec

    Lexar 8gb USB 3.0

    $ sudo hdparm -I /dev/sdd
    SG_IO: bad/missing sense data, sb[]:  70 00 05 00 00 00 00 0a 00 00 00 00 20 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
    ATA device, with non-removable media
    	Likely used: 1
    	Logical		max	current
    	cylinders	0	0
    	heads		0	0
    	sectors/track	0	0
    	Logical/Physical Sector size:           512 bytes
    	device size with M = 1024*1024:           0 MBytes
    	device size with M = 1000*1000:           0 MBytes 
    	cache/buffer size  = unknown
    	IORDY not likely
    	Cannot perform double-word IO
    	R/W multiple sector transfer: not supported
    	DMA: not supported
    	PIO: pio0 

    Respect. Well bought.
    You see what advertising is and what fact is.
    500mb/sec –>

    hdparm -t --direct /dev/sdc
     Timing O_DIRECT disk reads: 1188 MB in  3.00 seconds = 395.89 MB/sec

    Yes, I understand.

    I did try burning the distro to my Lexar USB 3.0 flashdrive and it took almost a minute to burn the ISO instead of 15 seconds.

    It wasn’t cheap, so doesn’t look like that one was such a wise purchase…


    Thanks for all the useful information in this thread! That “hdparm -t –direct /dev/sdX” is a trick that I did not know before. Now I’ll have some fun time to play with my a bunch of flashdisks and well as different harddisks and SSDs on my different machines. 🙂

    … it took almost a minute to burn the ISO instead of 15 seconds.

    Just saying, “the time needed to burn an ISO” is IMHO less a useful as a “real-world” indicator. I mean, we are supposed to only burn an ISO occasionally but then use that finished flashdisk to power our daily workload again and again. So I personally would care more about the time needed to boot from such a flashdisk (as I use LiveUSB exclusively). That being said, my same old flashdisk boots within 30 seconds on my one machine but noticeably longer on another one, despite they both have USB 2.0 ports, so it seems not just about the usb port and the flashdisk.

    UPDATED with real numbers:

    * I have a Thinkpad X60 producted at 2006, and a Dell Inspiron 1525 producted at 2008. Both have USB 2.0 ports according to their specs.
    * I use the same unbranded, outdated 2GB flashdisk. On both machines, “sudo hdpram -t /dev/sdb”, with or without –direct, gives me roughly 13 MB/second.(By the way, I’ve been trying to see how small/low-end flashdisk I can use to get antiX liveUSB running, and 2GB is the minimum because the ISO file itself is slightly larger than 1GB).
    * On Thinkpad X60, it took 36 seconds from pressing ENTER in boot menu (using default boot, without any persistence), to Conky shows up.
    * On Dell Inspiron 1525, it took 74 seconds, roughly twice as long.

    So I guess I’ve just demonstrated:

    1. How unreliable to use so-called boot time to measure the flash disk speed. I might have to take back my words above. LOL
    2. How the disk speed alone (in this case, the two samples are exactly the same) could be less a factor to the real-world use case such as boot time. Admittedly, this is very counter-intuitive even to my own believing.

    The bottom line? Once they boot up, I feel no difference in my usual daily workload. And I totally enjoy carrying merely a dispensable flashdisk around, and still have my favorite and familiar working environment with me anywhere. (In fact, I lost one last week in my local library, though I found it back days later.) 🙂


    rayluo, I will time a boot from it for you…

    It was about 14.9 seconds for IceWM to come up from pressing enter on the flash drive. Conky was up in about 16 or 17 seconds total, but I had clicked the stopwatch when IceWM was up.

    What does yours take from a flashdrive with defaults?

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by BobC.

    rayluo, I will time a boot from it for you…

    It was about 14.9 seconds for IceWM to come up from pressing enter on the flash drive. Conky was up in about 16 or 17 seconds total, but I had clicked the stopwatch when IceWM was up.

    What does yours take from a flashdrive with defaults?

    Thanks! I’ve just updated my original post with data.


    Dear friends,

    you should keep in mind that you can benchmark flash memory cells to death!

    The comparison USB-Stick –> USB2/3 ports –> boot times of the machine do not make sense to me. This test may look quite different at the next start.

    Stay with built-in ssd’s. And, the most accurate it does dd.


    An M.2 SSD connected to USB 3.1 that would be a viable alternative. A SATA SSD is just too clumsy big.


    Thanks for Ideas,
    after some hesitation now using several Patriot Burst 240 GB drives. Cheap @ about 28 USD or in EU about 33 Euro and up to now no issues found. Faster boot times than many others we tried. 3 Years Garantee if breaking.


    I haven’t had any issues with the ones I made. There have been no problems, and I haven’t been using my normal flashdrives as a result. I’m glad it worked for others as well as for me.

    I agree with eugen that it should be as conveniently small, physically as possible. I got an enclosure for my m2.sata ($6 higher in price) and it has a shorter cord and is smaller.


    Hi BobC, here very difficult to get decent second hand drives, Should have added that.
    M2 works for sure and is nice but at present comes around double price.
    I must also say that small items like USB Sticks or similar sized are “quite popular” with students of all ages, office workers in my experience too. A larger case is less comfortable in the crotch so less getting stolen. :-). Experience..

    One physicaly small drive with a canary went around a German company I worked at for a while, an action which I loved. Caught some really shitty people in Junior management who went around stealing from manual workers.

    I want to play with that idea, M2 drive in a nice shiney plastik case for 2.5″ drive, GPS tracker included. Expulsion for theft and a civil court case on top is minimum I wish for some unpleasant kids. Knowing who is easy, they brag, Evidence for a case is the challenge.

    Ideas welcome but not killer sticks, they may well hit wrong people and turn the cases around.
    Smartfone tracker in ROM is good too but most bootloaders are locked.

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