My last post was about a quest to buy a $1 USB thumbdrive. I'm getting closer: three for less than $5, even if one of the three was defective & a sure dustbin-bound useless -- if intricate -- piece of electronics.
So with the remaining two thumbdrives, the question that came up was: What can I do with them, each having all of 128MB capacity -- I didn't know such puny devices were still sold -- given my collection of other USBs, all of far greater capacity.
Well, I suppose one could treat them as disposables. Even give them away to friends, say, a PDF copy of my latest novel. But that sort of begs the question of why I bought them in the first place. Did I only want to see what an ultracheap USB thumbdrive looked like, delivered from China, post-free? Yeah, in a way, I did.
Then I realized a challenging, best use for these one-buck thumbdrives: I could use them to run my laptop.
Seriously, I run linux on all my machines [Mint Linux], so why not put a smallish linux distro on one of the thumbdrives & boot up that when I power on my Dell laptop? With only 128 MB storage, I didn't have a lot of headroom for my install. With modern software, a working linux desktop grows past MBs into GBs, easily.
I've used a few small linux distributions in the past -- Puppy Linux & Damn Small Linux -- that would fit my thumbdrive, but I decided to push minimalism to the limit.
I decided on tiny core linux, a bare-bones version weighing in at a tad under 12MB, or less than 10% of my thumbdrive's flash memory. But what can I do on a laptop with 12MB, when contrasted with 16-17 GB installs [1000+ times greater] for my full-blown Mint Linux desktops?
The short answer is not a lot in the usual sense.
But as Neal Stephenson once titled an online essay, "In the Beginning ,,, Was the Command Line." At the command-line prompt, I have unix commands and one essential program.
vi. Bob Joy's [visual] text editor, ubiquitous on unix systems and first appearing in 1976. vi is software of amazing elegance [and productivity]. A pure writing tool. I wrote about my fondness for vi in a slashdot post.
Needless to say, I'm writing these words in vi, my laptop running off a 12MB tiny core linux install. Not much other than the command line to greet me. No windows, just a prompt on a black-and-white screen.
So to answer the question, What use can one make of a puny $1 thumbdrive? Paradoxically, quite a lot, if you only want to write words without the distractions of an icon-infested desktop!
Image credit: the author
Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection [and feel free to share with a friend] The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
10:14:17 In Pursuit of the $1 Thumbdrive
10:5:17 Zabriskie Point
9:30:17 19th Century-Style Photographic Prints
7:2:17 DIY Prescription Eyeglasses
6:22:17 Free Geek: "helping the needy get nerdy"
5:27:17 Reading My Great Grandfather's 1868 Diary
4:27:17 The Bickford Fuse, a book review
4:14:17 Why I, Too, Will Not Fly United Airlines Again, Ever.
3:21:17 The Revelation to John
1:29:17 A Platonic Slide Into Tyranny
12:29:16 We Wanted Workers, a book review
12:10:16 Popular Mechanics Magazine, May 1933, a review
11:27:16 Deoderant Confession
11:10:16 Grisi Neutral [Neutro] Soap
10:24:16 Finding Solace in Camus
9:24:16 A 35-Year-Old Calculator
8:27:16 My Sanctuary
7:27:16 And the Weak Suffer What They Must?, a book review
6:12:16 The Squinty Prius
5:26:16 The Disconnect of Vote-by-Mail
5:17:16 The Still Pond
5:12:16 Marina and Lee, a book review
4:28:16 A Little Catechism Goes a Long Way
4:15:16 Au Revoir, Cloudburst Recycling
3:11:16 Screen Magnetism
2:4:16 We've Got Algorithms
1:18:16 Forgiving Portland's City Bus Line
12:28:15 The Gluten Lie, a book review
12:12:15 Ten Things I Buy at Dollar Tree
12:3:15 My Logging Habit
11:11:15 The Internet Is Not the Answer, a book review
10:21:15 How I Write When I Write
9:17:15 The Other Portland
8:20:15 Gods Without Men, a book review
8:19:15 Oregon's Most Obscure Traffic Law
7:31:15 A Small Death
7:23:15 China Shakes the World, a book review
7:16:15 Out Damn Spot!
5:31:15 My New Library Card
5:21:15 Let Me Be Frank With You, a book review
5:08:15 Portland's Rabbit Hutches
4:21:15 The Sea Lions at Astoria
3:26:15 Sacrificing for a Lower Water Bill
3:10:15 The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, a Book Review
2:5:15 Pinhead Books aka e-books
1:15:15 Good Riddance to Old-School Shaving!
12:20:14 Three Whys I Quit Reading a Book
12.12.14 the life-changing magic of tidying up, a book review
11.12.14 Oil Changes
10.17:14 Doomsday Preppers, a TV series review
9.30:14 The Trigger, a book review
9:10:14 Clipboard People
8:23:14 Ukraine Diaries, a book review
8:21:14 My Home Darkroom on a Shoestring
7:29:14 Right Speech
6:28:14 Pacific Power's Wily Ways
6:20:14 My New Clarks Sandals
5:31:14 Portland's Water Woes, Again
5:10:14 Faster Dial-Up
4:11:14 Update on Stockpiling Light Bulbs
4:10:14 The Next 100 Years, a book review
3:15:14 A Cruel and Shocking Act, a book review
3:8:14 Ukraine: Another Revolution Gone Awry
2:9:14 The Flight (and Fight) of the Hummingbird
1:25:14 My Frugal Byways
1:20:14 Walden on Wheels, a book review
1:2:14 Growing Up Amish: A Memoir, a book review
11:28:13 The Moneyless Man, a book review
11:23:13 The Lost Art of Walking, a book review
11:10:13 The Cultural Revolution Cookbook, a book review
10:23:13 The Biker Angel
10:11:13 No Self-Serve Gas in Oregon
9:28:13 A Street Cat Named Bob, a book review
9:23:13 The Life & Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin, a book review
9:18:13 Autumn Leaves
8:19:13 The Worst Car Driver & Why
8:12:13 The Gardener from Ochakov, a book review
7:25:13 Le Havre by Kaurismaki
7:20:13 This Ain't California
6:27:13 The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, a book review
5:29:13 My Linux (Mis)Adventures
5:25:13 Southern Cross the Dog, a book review
5:5:13 Russian Tumbleweed
4:16:13 "The Machine Stops" by E. M. Forster
3:25:13 Moore's Law
3:13:13 Grocery Shopping
2:28:13 Razor Blade in Moonlight
1:27:13 Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design, a book review
12:9:12 White Bread, a book review
12:4:12 Update on Old-School Shaving
11:12:12 Ten Great Buys at Dollar Tree
11:6:12 My New Russian Camera
10:29:12 Leaf Day
10:2:12 The Russian Navy in New York?
9:21:12 The Righteous Mind, a book review
9:14:12 Revolution, 1989, a book review
8:23:12 Train Whistles in the Night
8:2:12 Why I've Stockpiled Light Bulbs
7:22:12 Old-School Shaving
7:16:12 Злектроника МК-52, computer de minimus
7:4:12 Ivan's Childhood by Tarkovsky
6:21:12 The Unabomber, a modern Thoreau?
6:12:12 Do the gods exist?
6:7:12 My "Retail Therapy"
5:28:12 On Taxes, We Should Go Green
5:17:12 Portland's Trash
5:6:12 The Toaster Project, a book review
4:24:12 No Seconds
4:12:12 Portland's Runaway Utility Bill
4:8:12 The Repossession, a book review
3:30:12 How I Got Published in Mississippi Review
3:9:12 The End of Money, a book review
2:18:12 Beauty Plus Pity, a book review
2:5:12 Kirk's Castile Soap
1:29:12 Confessions of a Fallen Standard-Bearer, a book review
1:22:12 Thirst, a book review
1:17:12 My IBM ThinkPad 1999-2012
1:11:12 String Beans
12:22:11 Spiritual TMJ
12:16:11 1Q84, a book review
12:11:11 How Portland Became Portlandia
12:1:11 The Fixie
11:20:11 Camus' Insight
11:13:11 Old & Worthy
11:7:11 Life Is Tragic
10:31:11 A Matter of Death and Life, a book review
10:25:11 Dead Letter, Email Fatigue
10:18:11 Reinventing Collapse, a book review
10:11:11 Rereading Pirsig
10:1:11 The Sisters Brothers, a book review
9:26:11 The Great Stagnation, a book review
9:16:11 Coffee, The Affordable Luxury
9:12:11 The Genius of Value
9:5:11 Death and the Penguin, a book review