booting from usb pen drive

Andrew M.A. Cater amacater at
Sun Nov 23 12:19:12 EST 2003

On Sun, Nov 23, 2003 at 06:46:10AM -0800, Jim Lux wrote:
<big snip>
> I was thinking of a USB drive on each and every diskless node, not moving
> the one drive around.
> > Other than that, you'd have a nice usb key sticking out of either the
> > front or rear of all your machines like a sore thumb, and would be quite
> > easy to accidently brush against and break/pull-out/snap-off in your usb
> > port.
> Only if you packaged it that way... Lots of mobos have USB ports that come
> out to a header and they expect you to put a little adapter dohickey (which
> can cost as much as the USB drive) to create the USB jack on the front
> panel.  Leave the USB drive inside the case.
Fine if you can.  If you can't the smallest 32M USB drive I've just seen 
is barely big enough to protrude beyond the rear of the case.  Another 
has a neat cable to extend the USB "plug" by about two feet / 60cm.
Just leave it dangling neatly and run a cable tie round it to tie it to 
the ethernet cable :)

> >
> >
> > I have heard of people using usb devices (ipod's) to boot public kiosk
> > machines so that if a machine were cracked into, the real system files
> > couldn't be tampered with, and a reboot would wipe any added back doors.
> > But that's a very different situation.
> As far as I know, you can't make a USB pod readonly, which is what I'd want
> for a non-tamperable, non-hackable, backup.
At least one of those I saw yesterday for round the GBP30 mark had a 
physical R/W switch.
> Not so different.  For what it's worth, this is how they do electronic
> voting machines, except I think they use Compact Flash.  There's an
> "interesting" story about mass software updates of machines in Georgia over
> a weekend on the internet. (and you think managing the software
> configuration of a cluster is a challenge!)
> In my specific case, I'm looking for a cheap, off the shelf diskless boot
> solution that is compatible with having only wireless access to the node. My
> application is almost embarassingly parallel (by deliberate design) and the
> goal is to show that "useful work" can be done with power being the only
> physical connection to each node.  So far, the CF/IDE adapter looks like a
> winner...
> >
This is effectively only a form factor converter. CF == IDE if you pull 
one pin low/high.  Pull it whichever way (I can't remember right now :) 
) and you can write to it as an IDE disk.  Unassert it and it becomes CF
and read only :)  Google for the Soekris wireless devices / the 
Openbrick low power low form factor devices used primarily as firewalls
and WiFi devices - they do more or less exactly this, as do some of 
the low power mini-ITX boards.

CF doesn't like too many writes but read is forever IIRC.


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