Ubuntu MATE on USB stick

Recently I installed Ubuntu MATE 16.04 on a 32 GB USB 2 stick, following this guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSGA-63FniU.

I did this because I read it would be faster. But it isn’t faster at all, in the contrary, it freezes a lot of times. Sometimes things don’t load and I have to reboot (to get wifi going, for instance).
I re-formatted the stick, rewriting everything with zeros, to be sure it wasn’t a problem with the stick.

Any hints or experiences from other users?

taxitecler hello, how fast is your pendrive or sd card?, speed read and write, that’s important, have you partitioned the swap ?, you should not, greetings …

sorry. , Taxicletter. I write very fast …

hi @Taxicletter,

did you go here first?:

Did you fully format the USB stick first?.

Here is also a tut on using Unetbootin:

I have a Intenso Alu Line 32 GB USB-stick Silver USB 2.0 stick. Formatted FAT, no partitions.

Yes, I went https://ubuntu-mate.org/raspberry-pi/ there first. I used the MATE image for Raspberry Pi.

I’ll try unetboot as soon as I have time!

Thanks for the advice.

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I don’t believe Unetbootin works for the Raspberry Pi. It’s a utility for creating bootable images intended for the desktop version, but doesn’t work the same way on a Raspberry Pi.

As far as I recall, the Raspberry Pi does need a SD card present to boot off a memory stick.

Do you many other USB drives plugged in at the same time? Do you use a powered USB hub?

It could be the case of too much bandwidth or insufficient power for the USB bus, so I/O operations are being held up when other devices compete for power and transmitting data between the device and Pi.

USB 2 devices and ports are naturally capped to a maximum of 480 Mbps (48MB/s). Most devices I’ve seen work up to 10 MB/s to 32 MB/s, depending on the age of the USB drive.

@Josele13 mentions about swap. When physical memory is low, data in RAM gets swapped to/from the disk, which would definitely take a hit to performance, even on SD cards (which is why it’s not used by default).

A tool like Disks or GParted will reveal if there is a swap partition. Try turning it off if there is one.

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No, when you have other USB drives mounted, booting fails. I only had a remote for a Logitech keyboard connected.

I tried the overclocking settings from the comments, with sudo nano /boot/config.txt. After that, I couldn’t start up. I first looked at the file in my USB stick, but there where the default settings, nothing changed. My changes where done on the SD card.
With my laptop, I did the changes to the USB-boot-file and restored the ones on the SD card, but still an error and unable to boot.

I tried putting the USB stick in my screen (which serves as powered USB hub), but that didn’t work either, I think it’s not recognized as the right volume at that place. But since I seem to have messed up my system, it could be that as well.

I’l reformat SD and USB and try again…

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Hello Taxicletter, a micro SD or pen drive with 48Mb / s is enough to work well,
but your pendrive should have that speed reading,

I have installed Ubuntu Mate on a 64GB Micro Sd as if it were a hard drive and doing very well, but I have 20 Mb / s in writing and 80Mb / s in reading, the swap must be avoided and not install it,

with its relevant partitions, and that you must not remove suspension and hibernation system to crash.

I have to do a tutorial, when I have time …



Be careful with overclocking. Things can get very unstable if it goes the physical limits of the hardware (same with PC overclocking too). I’d suggest keeping it at stock levels.

The power can play a role here too, is it a wall adapter with plenty of Amps? (forgot the exact number), not powered by another USB (e.g. a laptop’s or TV’s port).

Corruption begins to happen if there is too much (or too little) power being drawn from the USB ports, which is one reason why powered hubs are preferred. :slight_smile:

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I have the power supply of Raspberry themself, it 2,1 A I think.

I use this one
“jacked up the voltage to provide a clean 5.25V rather than the ‘standard’ 5V”

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I’m using a Sandisk Ultra 16GB, which is much faster than various other USB sticks. For what it’s worth, my system boots up in 40 seconds, and everything works perfectly. I use Apple-Pi-Baker (Mac) to write the image to the stick - an excellent utility. And as others say, you must have a decent USB power supply.

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I would not expect a great speed increase, if any.

As others have pointed out USB2 has a speed limit (rarely met). The Pi shares a USB2 hub for ALL I/O (Ethernet and USB) so this capacity is shared.

The SD Card is directly connected to the SoC bypassing the hub. The standard specifies Write speed, but this is burst speed for sequential writes which is NOT what the Pi does most of the time. Read speeds can be quite fast, although this is not standardised and varies between manufacturers.

I have used external OS partitions and also to access larger HDD drives. If you are paranoid about SD data corruption use an external drive, but don’t expect any substantial increase in speed, especially if you are using the network at the same time.

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Thanks for the clarification.
I read on some forums that running Ubuntu from an USB stick would be much faster than from SD card. Not correct, as I hear from you.

(I use this USB stick: http://www.intenso.de/produkte_en.php?kategorie=23&&produkt=1343573889 - Max. reading transfer rate: 28,00 MB/s)