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OT - Is this USB application too good to betrue?

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  • OT - Is this USB application too good to betrue?

    This advert on a USB "drive?" came in today.

    I thought I'd forward it to here for comment etc.

    Is it too good to be true?

    I have absolutely no commercial or any other interest in it.

    Make your own judgement.

    http://howfinancedaily.com/xtra-pc/?...2014%20Minutes

  • #2
    Looks like it's a slim linux install on a thumb drive.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks kendall - appreciated.

      Which may need "filling out" for any of the "great un-washed" (me very much included) who need more basic info to try to understand what it is all about and what the risks and benefits might be.

      I'd be nearly sure that there will be others in the same boat as I am with this.

      Comment


      • #4
        In essence, it's a USB disk drive with the Linux operating system installed on it. That is the operating system that I use for everything. My desktop and laptop run Linux.

        In general, a PC's browser will SEEM to run much faster running Linux than it does under MS Windows.

        When you boot it, you will see a desktop that looks similar to Windows. It will have a web browser (possibly Chrome, Firefox or Opera) and an email client (Thunderbird, or possibly others) and several other utilities that play videos, music, etc.

        IT WILL NOT BE WINDOWS COMPATIBLE

        If they did it right, you will be able to access and use the pictures and documents that you created when using Microsoft Windows. If they did it wrong you may need a local teenage geek to set that up for you.

        The down side is that the thumb drive will have a limited life and will wear out from writing to it too much in 2 to 4 years.

        Dan
        At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

        Location: SF East Bay.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks Dan and others - appreciated.

          Dan,


          The down side is that the thumb drive will have a limited life and will wear out from writing to it too much in 2 to 4 years.

          I was really surprised that that the USB thumb drive had that sort of limited life as I thought - and seems quite wrongly - that as the thumb drive was/is "solid state" that it would last pretty well for ever.

          I am now much better informed and lot wiser now.

          Comment


          • #6
            Solid state "nonvolatile" memory varies in the lifetime. It is data "writes" that cause the problem, due to the physical way the write occurs. Writes involve an "erase" and that action has potential to damage the chip. The data is stored in cells that hold a "nearly countable" number of electrons. Any leakage can allow the data to change, and that "cell" is then bad. An erase is a deliberate leakage.

            Reads are no issue, and are nearly infinite life

            Very old types had a lifetime in the low hundreds of writes. Later they became better, in the 10,000 writes range. Now, with many computers having NO mechanical hard disk, and cell phones ditto (of course) the lifetime is well into the 100,000 writes and above range. Old USB sticks had maybe 5000 write cycle capability, but modern ones are in the 100,000 area.

            Many such memories will have control programs in them which swap addresses around, so that the number of writes is more-or less equalized over the entire memory of the chip. Some also have the ability to detect bad areas and substitute others for them in the same way. Use of a larger stick than required may help, since there is more area to be covered by the write equalization routine.

            So, it may not be quite as dire and doomed as 2 to 4 years. It depends very much on the usage the thing gets. As a server, it might get pounded hard, and have a shorter life, but as a user computer, I would expect it to last longer than that.

            Even with the OS doing its thing, each memory location won;t get 100,000 writes in a short time. And I would expect that there might be significantly less "background activity" in Linux than in windows, which seems to always be very busy. Linux and Win 7 and above have support for solid state memory built-in, and should optimize usage.
            CNC machines only go through the motions

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by oldtiffie View Post
              Thanks Dan and others - appreciated.

              Dan,

              I was really surprised that that the USB thumb drive had that sort of limited life as I thought - and seems quite wrongly - that as the thumb drive was/is "solid state" that it would last pretty well for ever.

              I am now much better informed and lot wiser now.
              You are quite welcome. The reason that they wear out is a side effect of the way that they are written. Each memory location can only be written a limited number of times. The number 100,000 comes to mind.

              100,000 seems like a lot for a camera where you will not take that many pictures in your life, but if it's being used as a hard drive it might have data written to it every few seconds. The thumb drive should have firmware that spreads the data around so it's not written to the same spot all the time.
              At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

              Location: SF East Bay.

              Comment


              • #8
                On the high density drives it's as low as 10,000 writes. Redundant cells are switched in to replace those wearing out. Cheaper off-brand drives have less redundancy. Don't use USB as "hard drives... you can wear them out in short order.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Even if they wear out in a year or two, they are a good way to find out if Linux will do what you want on older hardware. Thumb drives often have a utility that will install to a hard drive if you like it. Then it's a matter of how good your hard drive is. An SSD will provide blazing performance.

                  Dan
                  At the end of the project, there is a profound difference between spare parts and left over parts.

                  Location: SF East Bay.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    One of the best ways to maintain life is to have a lot of ram. In doing so you minimize the swap file use of the drive/ssd.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thank you one and all for your excellent responses that are very much appreciated indeed.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Personally I would suggest purchasing a usb stick and then installing linux on it yourself. will be cheaper, not have everything set up to give some random company a referral bonus for whatever shopping you might do, and be less likely to have malware preinstalled.

                        google "installing linux on a usb stick"

                        And I actually laughed at the "we highly recommend getting your Xtra-PC before they're on another 3 or 4 week backorder again or the big computer companies successfully shut them down."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Would this work on a Chromebook ? Would it make it possible to print directly from a Chromebook without going thru the "cloud"?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Considering some other threads of recent date, I suppose the un-asked question with regard to it being "too good to be true", is "what OTHER software will be potentially installed to the machine, other than running Linux from the USB stick?"

                            The cost is low, but the cost to the vendor is also low, so there is no obvious reason for suspecting that the costs are being made up by profits from some nefarious scheme. Nonetheless, it is indeed a USB device installed, which does in fact "take over the machine", and could presumably do absolutely anything whatsoever.

                            Just a happy little thought for you to consider.
                            CNC machines only go through the motions

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Snake oil. Penile enhancement for your computer.

                              Sooner or later your computer will be out-dated by software demands for increasing speed, gadgetry, etc. True a non-USB computer can be provided with a USB card, bugger hard drive, memory slots di-dad but their addition adds to the string of stuff the CPU has to manage and it will eventually slow down.

                              Computers have a finite technological life. The Dell I bought in 1996 has been out-dated by the HP Pavilion I bought in 2000 and it by the 2014 Acer I use now. The older computers won't satisfactorily run Win 10 or a couple of freeware apps I discovered I can't live without, nor will they stream video and play nice with my browser. Fact of life. Schools and churches, old folks homes don;t even want cast off computer systems.

                              It mightbe harsh but unless you want to have your couputer access to the outside world limited by obsolescence you will have to upgrade from time to time. It's an ongoing expense you have to budget for. I generally buy year old computers refurbished buy my local computer guru. couple or thre hundred bucks, transfer my files and bada-bing!

                              These days I have to budget pretty carefully and one of the annual items is an the $300 for computer repair and upgrades. I usually don't spend it all any one year so I roll the surplus over to the discretionary stuff.

                              Maiin thing is to avoid snake oil gimmicks and time-wasting alternitives to facing reality.

                              Comment

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