Tuesday, December 9, 2008

USB Drives Better With Linux!

I needed a new external, portable storage drive. I've been using the LaCie Globetrotter which I bought about five years ago. This was a 40 gigabyte USB hard drive that also had Mandrake (now Mandriva) Linux pre-installed. I could plug into a computer and then run Linux right from this hard drive. It was my first introduction to Linux. (By the way, you can get Linux pre-installed on thumb drives. This a great way to try Linux, carry it with you, etc.)
After I got involved in Linux a bit more, I installed it to my computer and was dual booting with Windows. I  then bought a new Linux system about a year later.  Not needing this LaCie drive for Linux anymore, I simply used it for storage.
Well, all this storage use (taking it between office and studio, backing up files, saving, rewriting, etc.) finally caught up with it. It looks like my LaCie may be on its last legs. So, I decided to buy a new USB portable hard drive. I visited my local MicroCenter store and was happy to see they had a nice slection. I opted for a Western Digital drive. This one is called the Passport (The Elite model).  It measures about 4.75 inches by 3 inches and weighs next to nothing.  It also comes with a carrying pouch.  The Passport can be purchased for as little as $80.00.  The Elite model is a bit pricier ($169.99), but I wanted the added storage space because this drive does double duty.  It's used for backing up Cartoon art files in my studio and saving files we generate in the office.  (accounting files, scanned paperwork, Sky Window orders, etc.)  More storage is better than less.

I brought it home, plugged it into my Linux Mint system and the Elite Passport came to life.   The great thing about running this drive on Linux is avoiding all the Windows bloatware that comes with these devices.

Usually when a drive like this is plugged into a Windows system, a multitude of programs launch asking you to set up automatic backup or some other "Ease of Use" routine.  And the Passport is no different. I have not yet plugged this drive into a Windows system, but there's an "autorun.inf" file present on the drive.  This means that when the drive is plugged into a Windows system, a bunch of these preloaded programs will automatically launch.  My opinion is, these "Ease of Use" programs do nothing more than clog the drive and confuse things.  It also depends on how they are written and how much of the computer's resources are eaten up to allow these additional programs to run in the background.

As my nephew Mike pointed out on his Blog SuchADowner.com:

"Most people buy their computers from retail stores which come loaded with garbage third-party software. Many of you know that quality software is usually lightweight, and shouldn't put a strangle hold on your computer's resources (exception: games). Burning a CD, editing a photo, instant messaging, or simple web browsing shouldn't require some sort of processor hungry, memory eating piece of software--but the pre-built systems that people buy have all of this garbage coming up in the toolbar right on the first boot into Windows. No wonder why people complain about slow loading times! If you do have a pre-built Windows system, the first thing you should do is ditch the garbageware! If you have programs loading on boot that don't need to be, click on start--> run --> and then type in "msconfig". Under the startup tab you can uncheck any unnecessary software that you don't need loading upon start up."
Linux avoids all this. It doesn't recognize these Windows executable and autorun files.  So, when the drive is plugged in, it comes right up.  But none of these programs automatically launch to pester you.

So, get more out of you portable USB hard drive.  Get real ease of use.  Run in on Linux.

Get Linux.


xISO_ZWT said...

Word has it, the military does not allow the use of usb drives on its computers. Some autorun apps have been infected with trojans before the consumer purchases them.

Mike said...

There was a security breach in the Pentagon. From what I've read, no outside storage devices are allowed on their computers anymore.

xISO_ZWT said...

I forgot; also @ the space station. The funny thing is that anytime there's a virus/Trojan attack, the publications do not mention windows as the os. They use weaselly statements as, "commodity consumer computers, etc."