Install ubuntu with root-on-flash

Asked by ZioNemo on 2009-10-14

I need to build a system with very low stand-by power requirements.
If the system is actually used I can afford higher power drain.
In order to do this I need to keep the HD off when the system is idling.
For several reasons Linux likes to read/write a lot on disk (mainly /var, but not only).
I think I have to boot unto a ram-drive, but doing so in the "stupid" way means I would lose all configurations at startup.
I thought about using an USB-pendrive to boot and I found several tutorials, but they were all meant to use an USB-stick as boot-media (instead of the normal CD) to perform normal HD installation. Nothing that would use the pen-drive for routine boot.
As said I can afford to have an HD on /usr and the delay due to spin-up on startup and start of "real" usage, but I do not want the disk to start every few minutes if nobody is at the keyboard.
Can someone advise on the best course of action?
Pointers welcome.


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I recommend following a standard USB install but use custom partitioning. Use EXT2 as well to increase the USB sticks life, use ext3 or ext4 on the internal drive. You can then create whatever partitions you need on the internal disk (/home for example) and tell the installer to setup fstab so the internal HDD is used for home and swap (for speed) but use the usb for whatever folders you want from /. You may have to tweak fstab to mount any partitions you miss but this isnt overly hard just takes a bit more thought and planning which you sound like you are more than capable of.

nice idea to save energy though dude, like it.

ZioNemo (zionemo) said : #2

Thanks actionparsnip, that solved my question.