How to boot from SD card and use home etc. on internal HD (proper formating?)

Greetings! This is my first post as a new Lubuntu user. I have installed lubuntu 20.04 on an old Asus Eee PC with an atom processor. It has 2GB ram and a 500 GB internal HD. Lubuntu has breathed new life into that admittedly slow system. Now the question…
I was hoping to speed up boot time by keeping the OS on an SD card while keeping Home and other files on the large internal drive.
Unfortunately my experience level requires step by step instructions on partitioning and setting up the drives for this scenario. I would certainly appreciate any guidance in this regard.

You can boot live media and copy across the files you want to store on different disks/partitions there; then modify the locations where they can be found in your file-system table (/etc/fstab).

Your guide to fstab is of course you’re existing file-system table, but documentation exists online too

A guide on performing a move can be found here

The first [fstab] link I provided will be more useful of those two; and contrast what you read with your existing file-system table (ie. /etc/fstab), and the moving link on /home.

When using the live media, the /etc/fstab won’t be your installed system, but the COW (copy on write) for your live system on your media with copies on a ramdrive… so don’t forget to amend paths that allow for the use of live media. If you make mistakes, you just return to the live media to correct them, then re-try to see the effects work.

I tend to boot to live media; copy what I want to the new location, then reboot & have the system boot normally; perform my checks to ensure everything is as expected; then reboot into live media so amend as required, or if I got everything I wanted - I’ll delete the original files so I can re-claim some disk space.

Note: If your installed system is on SD-card or I’ll call it diskA and contains your full installation (ie. it was “/” and your only partition when you installed), but later made a copy of the /home onto another drive making two copies, the original on diskA and a copy on diskB, & created an entry in the fstab so the diskB got mounted as /home, on boot of the system the /home stored on diskB will shadow that of diskA meaning all changes will occur only to the diskB version & they’ll become out of sync (any amendments you make only occur to the entry used in fstab)… The diskA version will remain there (hidden or shadowed) & can be returned to later if required; but it can be confusing as shadowed systems tend to get old, which can be missed & create problems for you later (the files I created appear gone as you’ve forget everything you did!) thus I always delete them… though I tend to delete them a few days later when I’m convinced everything is good.

Another Note: The Ubuntu WIKI I provided on home moves assumes you’re using Ubuntu Desktop (ie. GNOME), thus when it mentions gedit (the GNOME text editor), as using Lubuntu your text editor is featherpad

This [reply] won’t be as easy as you wish, but the commands will all vary on your hardware. I used an older Asus eeepc in QA-testing releases up to disco or 19.04 (alpha), but mine has a atom n270 CPU so cannot boot/use later releases being limited to i386. If it’s a newish install & you thus can afford to re-install, it’s likely a good learning exercise.


Thank you @guiverc for the detailed response. As a new user this will definitely be a learning experience and I have not yet pursued the information you provided above. I have a quick follow up question (which may expose my ignorance).

What is the likelihood that booting from SD card will actually be noticeably faster than just using the internal Sata 500 GB drive? The more I use the unit with OS on internal drive the more I think the speed is better than expected. Lubuntu seems to have the best performance of any other distro I tried on this netbook.


What is the likelihood that booting from SD card will actually be noticeably faster…?

Booting from SD card and loading/running the OS from SD card) will actually be slower.
In all probability, the SD card slot is using the USB 2.0 bus (although there are some laptops/netbooks that use USB 3.0 or actually marry the reader to the PCIe bus).

The max I’ve ever got with USB 2.0 is about 20MB/s, and I have a similar netbook (eMachine/2GBram). More noticeable though would be the random access times (latency) which will be a lot quicker with the internal drive.

Not to mention that the actual card you use will probably be quite warm if it’s continually being used.


Thank you @humpty. I appreciate your thoughts and input. This netbook is certainly not my daily use machine, but as I mentioned it seems more lively and useful running Lubuntu. I suppose I might consider adding an SSD internally if I need a bit more speed as time passes. I think I have an old 128gb around someplace. These EeePC’s are a bit tricky to crack open though. Thanks again :slightly_smiling_face:


“I might consider adding an SSD internally…”
From what I’ve read, the SSDs shipped with the (remarkably) low cost Eee PCs only go up to about 35MB/s. SSDs bought externally would probably be a lot faster.

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