Meego installation on a USB stick

This post wouldn't be if the hard-drive from my Acer Aspire One didn't die. I have a fresh backup of the disk (a full 'dd' plus a separate one for just the home partition) so if I need something back, and I know I don't I care but backups are important, I can always mount it in a loopback and copy files.

The hard-drive is actually, what I want to call it, a cheap and fake SSD. It's a PATA SSD that I'm sure I will never find a replacement for. Look:

Now the dilemma was easy, or I threw the netbook to trash, or I found something to boot on. I started to look for a solution and Meego just got released, this is crazy timing. I downloaded the boot image and tried it out, and guess what, it is getting better and better. It's definitely more beautiful, it is getting faster, it has better dialogs for customization, well just try it out if you didn't yet, you wont be disappointed but surprised.

So in the end, installing a system on a USB stick is the only solution I can come up with. I ordered an extra USB stick, but mini please, a Kingston DTmini10! Now when I tell people this is my actual hard-drive, they are like “say-whaaat.”

The installation of Meego didn't went that fluently. I have two USB sticks, one with the boot image, another serving as target device for installation. The installation worked fine without any modification, it boots but ends on a black screen with the CAPS del blinking. Boo, kernel panic, or something else ungroovy. I also tried an installation with the file-system ext3, the default is btrfs, but then the grub installer fails and the Meego installer is knocked out in a waiting sequence. So I did a default installation again, sigh. After a search I tried out some parameters for the kernel command line and adding “rootdelay=8” did the trick. In fact, the USB stick boots without problem, but past that there is some delay for the kernel to discover the USB device, you can then see the following message:

   sd 11:0:0:0: [sdx] Assuming drive cache: write through

If there is no rootdelay parameter there is no root device found, and booting just ain't gonna work out. End of story. There are some tiny tweaks to be done afterwards. The kernel command line must point to the right root device, just like for the fstab file. The kernel command line can be edited in the file /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf. Everything else works out just fine. Booting time, except the rootdelay, is acceptable, but shutting down seems to be endless, and precisely when I want the netbook to turn off I want it to be really fast. I'm going to send it to sleep more often than usual, by closing and opening the lid, which is the fastest “boot” sequence one can get ;-)

Update: I've been wrong stating the shutdown process is taking ages, I just did a shutdown and this time it went quick, so something must have been be unlucky and the disk synced something around and around.