1 eeePC, 2 SDDs, 1 Pendrive, Ubuntu, Win7 and dd – Hoo-wee!

If you’ve ever been here before, you know that I bought an Asus eeePC 900a a few months ago. After buying it, I pulled out the 1G RAM and 4G SDD and replace them with 2G RAM and a 32G SDD. I also swapped a few times between Easy Peasy and Ubuntu Netbook Remix, but I finally settled on the RC of Windows 7. At first, Win7 seemed to be snappy, but as I really used it, it was dog slow. After running some speed tests on the SDD, I discovered that it was pitifully slow, especially when writing, and that was making the system almost useless. I would open Firefox and try to use Gmail, and it would sometimes take over a minute to open an email, meanwhile the drive light was solid, instead of just flickering.

So I took a chance and ordered what looked like a much faster SDD. It shipped on Thursday evening and, much to my surprise, arrived in my mailbox on Saturday. For comparison, the first SSD I bought had these specs:

  • Sequential Read: up to 40MB/s
  • Sequential Write: up to 15MB/s

By contrast, the new one has these specs:

  • Sequential Read: 155MB/sec
  • Sequential Write: 100MB/sec

You can see a marked difference between the two. When I bought the first one, I didn’t have anything to compare it to, so it didn’t seem like it would be that bad. It was. Now, these numbers are somewhat deceptive in that they are most likely burst rates, not sustained. So while the new drive is capable of hitting 100MB/sec writing, that’s only for short bursts, and won’t hold out over a long series of writes. It’s sort of like a cheetah; it can run extremely fast, but only for short periods of time.

I decided to install it last night, but since I had already installed Windows 7 on the existing drive, I really didn’t want to have to reinstall it, plus reinstall all my programs and reset all my preferences. So I got to thinking, and I came up with a be-you-tee-ful plan. Let me ‘splain.

I have an 8G pendrive that already had the live image of Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it, and I knew that it was bootable. I booted off that drive and mounted the Windows 7 SSD to see how much space it was using and make a copy. Since there wasn’t enough space on the pendrive for a 32G image, I knew that I would need external storage. I brought it up to my office and then got a MacGyvered external drive enclosure and a spare 160G hard drive working with the eeePC. (I say it’s MacGyvered because a few months ago I tore the enclosure apart, removing the existing hard drive to try to turn it into an external CD-ROM drive. That didn’t work, so when I was doing this operation, the drive was sitting on top of part of the enclosure, upside-down, with the cables hanging out. It was ugly.)  I then mounted the 160G drive while booted into Ubuntu from the pendrive, and executed the following command:

dd if=/dev/sda of=eee.iso

For those of you who don’t know Unix commands, dd is a program for doing low-level copies. This command did a full bit-level copy of the entire slow SSD, including all partitions and data, and stored them in a 32G file called eee.iso. (Yes, it’s not really an ISO, but I had to call it something.) That took about 30 minutes to copy the whole drive. I then shut the computer down, replaced the slow SSD with the faster one, and rebooted off the pendrive again. Once it was booted, I remounted the external drive, cd’d into the location where I had put the eee.iso file, and executed this command

dd if=eee.iso of=/dev/sda

About an hour and half later, I had a perfect copy of my original SSD that was bootable, and which Windows 7 was happy with (it even installed the correct driver upon first boot).

I am immensely happy with my system now. It’s extremely fast, and not just compared to what it was. Win7 is snappy and responsive, my programs all work, and I didn’t have to reinstall anything.

And that’s just cool.

One thought on “1 eeePC, 2 SDDs, 1 Pendrive, Ubuntu, Win7 and dd – Hoo-wee!

  1. A totally understandable, followable success story I was happy to read!
    I got the feeling “hey, even me can do it this way!”. Finally – there are a lot more bloggers out-there to learn the style of such writing: small, consistent, enjoyable.

    A nice writing, a nice read – thanks.

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