Best USB stick for Joggler?

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alexh
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Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by alexh » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:08 pm

Is it worth considering an expensive but killer fast Corsair GTR Voyager??

Or perhaps a cheap USB3 one (of course working in USB2.0 mode)

Are there any decent (read fast) micro ones which do not extrude too far?

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BuZz
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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by BuZz » Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:17 am

Hi alex,

You can try one of my super talent pico C if you like. write speed is average but it has a great read speed (and is pretty small). the corsair stick is very quick but also large but could be hidden behind it with a small usb hub.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:13 pm

Another option is running it from a USB portable hard drive. I've done this before. Needless to say it is pretty fast.

If you are using the Win32 disk image program to write to a hard drive, you need to use the following USB stick swap trick:

Insert a 4gb USB stick (yes I know we'll be writing to a hard drive)
Start up Win32 Disk Imager
Choose your USB stick as the location to write to
Choose the image you want to write
Remove the USB stick (just pull it from the USB slot, DO NOT use the 'safely remove hardware' option first)
Insert the USB hard drive
Write the image (which should be pretty quick)

When I tried to write to the hard drive without the USB stick swap trick, the program wouldn't recognise it. You will also need to use Gparted to create a partition (or partitions) for the rest of the drive; The empty space will be unassigned after writing the image. I formatted the remainder to FAT32 so that I could access additional data (movies and music) from linux and Windows.

P.S I use the ext4 images if writing to a hard drive.

P.P.S. The USB stick and the USB drive should be recognised under the same drive letter for the above to work. I once had a problem when I deliberately assigned the drive letter 'Q' to a USB stick but when I inserted the hard drive it was assigned the first available drive letter (in my case 'H'). The failure was therefore because Win32 Disk Imager couldn't find drive Q to write to.

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alexh
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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by alexh » Tue Mar 15, 2011 2:44 pm

Can the Joggler provide enough juice via USB to power a 2.5" bus powered drive?

I've can easily get my hands on old Iomega Prestige or WD Passport Essentials USB2.0 drives (I work as a member of the team which designed them and now we are all USB3.0 so there are loads in a cupboard somewhere)

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BuZz
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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by BuZz » Tue Mar 15, 2011 5:44 pm

I don't think it can so you would need a powered hub or something.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:01 pm

It depends what hard drive you're using. I've got a Sumvision 120gb hard drive that will power up but before the disk is available the Joggler is past the part of its boot cycle where it can boot from the device.

I've also got a Seagate 250gb drive that does boot up but, despite my initial enthusiasm (the ext4 image writes to it very quickly and it started up and ran very fast for the first few minutes), the USB stick is generally faster at running applications (especially XBMC), particularly over time.

I'm going to try the btrfs compressed image with the Seagate but I don't know how it will fare if the image is optimised for non-rotating storage. A Gparted live CD can create other partitions on the device (including btrfs) but it won't resize BuZz's btrfs image

By the way, the Seagate boots from an un-powered (except by the Joggler) USB hub that also has a USB soundcard, the USB power to an external speaker and a USB receiver for a wireless mouse.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:04 pm

I forgot to mention that the Seagate hard drive worked very well and faster than the stick for Ubuntu Netbook Remix (back in the day when I used it).

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by BuZz » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:33 pm

gegs wrote:It depends what hard drive you're using. I've got a Sumvision 120gb hard drive that will power up but before the disk is available the Joggler is past the part of its boot cycle where it can boot from the device.

I've also got a Seagate 250gb drive that does boot up but, despite my initial enthusiasm (the ext4 image writes to it very quickly and it started up and ran very fast for the first few minutes), the USB stick is generally faster at running applications (especially XBMC), particularly over time.

I'm going to try the btrfs compressed image with the Seagate but I don't know how it will fare if the image is optimised for non-rotating storage. A Gparted live CD can create other partitions on the device (including btrfs) but it won't resize BuZz's btrfs image

By the way, the Seagate boots from an un-powered (except by the Joggler) USB hub that also has a USB soundcard, the USB power to an external speaker and a USB receiver for a wireless mouse.
if running off a hd, edit /etc/fstab and remove "ssd_spread"

and put

echo "cfq" > /sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler

in /etc/rc.local or something.

good to know the joggler can power some hds, I had read it couldnt somewhere but never tested.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by roobarb! » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:54 pm

BuZz wrote:good to know the joggler can power some hds, I had read it couldnt somewhere but never tested.
Somehow the Joggler managed to get a bad press when it comes to powering USB devices, which I'm not sure is deserved. In my experience they power devices just as well as my iMac does; the one sitting next to me now is running from a 2.5" HDD and working fine.

As gegs mentioned, it definitely depends on the drive. The 2.5" enclosure I have used to have a Toshiba drive in it, which needed one of those USB cables with two plugs to grab enough power to spin up (when connected to anything). Swapped the drive in it for a Fujitsu last week and it runs perfectly on a normal cable now.
birdslikewires.net - home of the Reflash System, SqueezePlay (OS) and various tools for the Joggler!

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:35 am

Despite my disappointment with the ext4 Ubuntu image on my Seagate hard drive, I tried the btrfs non-compressed image last night and it runs like greased lightning. Even without removing the 'ssd_spread' option, which I haven't had time to do yet, it is very impressive.

I tried the compressed version first but I lost the Florence keyboard on a re-boot and couldn't get it back (it was supposedly running but wouldn't display). After that I tried the non-compressed one with the aforementioned positive results.

When running XBMC from a stick I had to change the iPlayer TV streams to their second lowest bitrate to get decent video and it very frequently lost the sync with the sound. Running from the hard drive the video runs smoothly, in perfect sync and at maximum quality. Wow!

I'll be using a USB stick on the Joggler connected to my hi-fi (because I only use it for Squeezeplay) but the kitchen Joggler is now a fantastic high-speed media center.

The hard drive I'm using is this one:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001XLX1SI/r ... B001XLX1SI

I got it for 20 quid second-hand.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:40 pm

An update on the long-running saga of what image is best on my portable hard drive.

Ubuntu Maverick btrfs compressed
I've tried the Ubuntu Maverick btrfs compressed image on my hard drive, which was pretty good but the loss of the Florence keyboard on a re-boot put me off a little. Probably my dumb fault but it gave me an excuse to try another image.

Ubuntu Maverick btrfs non-compressed
This image was absolutely brilliant. Everything ran super smooth and fast. "Stick with it" do I hear you say? I would agree if there was an easy way to resize the btrfs partition but space considerations reared their ugly head. If you only want to run Squeezeplay and XBMC, you could remove OpenOffice and a couple of other unnecessary things and I'm sure you'd be fine. My system became less smooth and fast after I installed Squeezebox Server. Playback on XBMC started to stutter a little bit more (when before it had been silky smooth). Not being an expert, I am assuming that this might have been down to buffering issues because there was only about 70mb of free space on the btrfs partition. Maybe less.

Ubuntu Maverick ext4
Despite initial niggles with the ext4 image on my 250gb Seagate drive, I decided to give it another try. This time I resized the ext4 partition to 50gb using Gparted (from a live CD on my PC obviously; Gparted won't resize mounted partitions so you can't do it on the Joggler). The response of the system is a little bit slower than the btrfs images and programs take a little bit longer to open but I now have acres of free space and it seems to have made a big difference to video streaming on XBMC. When I tried ext4 before and didn't resize the partition, video was quite choppy and sound kept running out of sync. Now, although video maybe takes 3 or 4 seconds more to buffer, when it gets into its stride the playback is great. iPlayer and TVcatchup are brilliant. I'm assuming that the extra space helps greatly with buffering issues.

[edit] --- The 3 or 4 seconds buffering in XBMC doesn't seem to be happening now. Everything runs smoothly from the start. Maybe it's a time of day thing, when more users are sucking up broadband bandwidth, or maybe XBMC has to configure itself properly on first run and operates quicker thereafter; I don't really know because I'm a definite XBMC noob but I'm loving my Joggler's new media capabilities.[end of edit]

Summary
I would say that the ext4 image is the best overall image to use for a removable hard drive but make sure to resize the ext4 partition first. Sure there are compromises but stability is better than speed (even though both would be nice). It's only opening programs that seems to take a little longer - video and music streaming is pretty fast and smooth.

These are my initial findings but I'll make further comment on how well the ext4 image performs over time (I've only used it for about 4 hours in total so far).
Last edited by gegs on Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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BuZz
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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by BuZz » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:27 pm

gegs wrote:An update on the long-running saga of what image is best on my portable hard drive.
I think the keyboard issue is unrelated and something odd just happened. might be worth trying again.

if you are using my latest image on a hd then I would add to /etc/rc.local (before the exit 0)

echo "cfq" >/sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler

you can also try

echo "deadline" >/sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler

once rebooted do

cat /sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler to make sure it's set properly

if you are using btrfs, then you should also remove ssd_spread from /etc/fstab

you can do the rc.local changes above from a root shell to test without making them permanent if you like. you might want to set a larger read-ahead cache also. try sudo blockdev --setra 512 /dev/sda (default will be 256 - you can see how it works for you - would likely be detrimental to random access data, but good for sequential)

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:44 pm

Thanks BuZz. Being a user rather than a developer I'm very grateful for any suggestions that will make the system more stable or run better because I'm very unlikely to stumble across this information myself.

Thanks for being so active and informative in the new forum.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by BuZz » Thu Mar 17, 2011 6:51 pm

np :) let me know how switching scheduler to cfg works for you. should be better on a normal hd.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:21 pm

BuZz wrote:if you are using my latest image on a hd then I would add to /etc/rc.local (before the exit 0)

echo "cfq" >/sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler

you can also try

echo "deadline" >/sys/block/sda/queue/scheduler
Thanks BuZz, I'll feed back with reports but I'm a little confused about the instructions above; should I add either one of the lines to /etc/rc.local or should I add both?

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by BuZz » Fri Mar 18, 2011 3:42 pm

just one. cfq is probably better but you could try them both and see which works best.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Sun Mar 20, 2011 12:10 pm

I notice that in /etc/fstab that linux-swap has <mount point> none and <options> none

Is this correct for a hard drive based system? or is it better to be <mount point> swap and <options> defaults?

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:26 pm

After comparing the performance of USB sticks against my portable hard drive I am really confused. I was using XBMC as my yardstick but have found that its performance varies between boots and it is not a great way to benchmark the system. Sometimes it flies and other times it stutters, even when not playing anything.

Initially iPlayer streams were fast and seamless on my hard drive but I've been experiencing sound sync problems and freeze-ups of late. I went back to a btrfs compressed USB stick install and found not much difference between the performance of XBMC on either - when comparing like for like. I think my enthusiasm for hard disk based Ubuntu was when comparing live streams on the usb stick with play again streams on the hard drive. I've subsequently found that live streams on both are a bit choppy and prone to sync problems, whereas play again streams play well, but not if the only stream available is a high bitrate (800 works best if available).

For live streams I've found that the TVcatchup plugin works much better for BBC channels but the play again functionality of the iPlayer plugin is priceless.

My posts have strayed a little from the "best USB stick for Joggler" theme but in my experience over the past week or two, I would say that the hard disk based approach is possible but not hugely beneficial unless you want to add more programs and need the extra space. Remember to compare like for like when testing systems, I caused myself a lot of confusion by not doing so.

Maybe roobarb has a different experience of running from a hard drive but, for the moment, I'm going to use the USB stick approach until I need the extra space. I'd be interested to know if others have tried both approaches, especially any performance tweaks that improved things for either method.
Last edited by gegs on Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by BuZz » Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:29 pm

gegs wrote:I notice that in /etc/fstab that linux-swap has <mount point> none and <options> none

Is this correct for a hard drive based system? or is it better to be <mount point> swap and <options> defaults?
the mount options should actually be "sw" i guess but it doesnt seem to matter. if the swap is on, then it's fine.

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Re: Best USB stick for Joggler?

Post by gegs » Mon Mar 21, 2011 12:47 pm

BuZz wrote:np :) let me know how switching scheduler to cfg works for you. should be better on a normal hd.
I tried both methods of switching scheduler but experienced more frequent freeze-ups in XBMC. A couple of times the freezes were permanent and the only way to quit the program was to "pull the plug", resulting in file system corruption. I don't know if any of these problems were to do with the scheduler or XBMC itself. Maybe even the hard drive.

Too many variables! Oh, for a life of tranquil simplicity.

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