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Unreliable and almost useless. :(


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#1 Jeffrey Klassen

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Posted 27 July 2013 - 09:24 PM

I am an IT Consultant and deal with multiple different computers on a daily basis. The ISO stick has let me down so many times now its getting to be a sick joke. I keep trying it thinking maybe this will be one of the lucky computers where it works as intended, but I am almost always left reaching for my case full of discs. Sometimes it just doesn't work, but more often it simply wont show the selection menu and just boots into the last disc that worked. I then have to find another computer to swap the selected image or just goto my case of discs. I am holding out hope that a magical update will come out and make this thing work as advertised but its been 5 months since the last updated firmware and even those updates do not seem to fix much. 

 

Are other people having better luck than me? Any IT guys working on newer systems that it works well for?



#2 honeychook

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 01:17 PM

I have been having the same issue. ISO stick would be so amazing if it worked all the time. Most computers I connect it to, the Boot selection does not work. So I am also forced to connect it to another computer and select a ISO and then boot on the target computer. I think the menu has only worked on 1-2 computers. The booting from ISO (once it has been selected) has worked fine so far. That been said, if this is fixed (hope It will be) ISO Stick will be the best thing ever. There are some features that I am looking forward to like being able to burn to ISO stick.



#3 bblaauw

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 04:51 PM

It would have been nice to have smaller/faster firmware updates indeed, instead of one that will/should solve lots of issues at the same time.

Experiencing same issue btw of not having any selection menu shown on bootup time.

The other thing waiting for is optical-only mode.

 

The development schedule is listed at https://trello.com/b...k3/isostick-dev


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#4 scottjl

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 06:55 PM

Well.. it's not entirely the fault of the ISOStick as the systems you're using and if they play nicely with USB boot devices. I work with dozens of different types as well and have had much better luck than you seem to have. I think development is a one man show, have to cut him some slack, especially since it's not like he has everything out there to test against.



#5 bblaauw

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 08:08 PM

It might be mainly old machines having working ISOSEL as they only have a BIOS. Newer machines use UEFI with a BIOS compatibility layer. The UEFI part might interfere a bit with ISOSTICK firmware when intending to show ISOSEL, which is something that needs to be solved inside of ISOSTICK's firmware.

 

The Zalman 200/300/400 drives can be an interim solution, but they require a 2.5" HDD/SSD instead of only a microSD card. Ofcourse they're quite a bit larger.


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#6 Jeffrey Klassen

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Posted 28 July 2013 - 10:44 PM

No I don't really think its the fault of ISOstick either, it was a lofty goal and a very hard one to achieve, I am just starting to think maybe it is not going to ever replace my discs, at least in its current form. I hope this is not true and that the problems will be solved, but unless it can reliably replace the case of discs I carry around its not of much use to me.  I am wondering if the ISOSEL may have been the wrong method and maybe a physical interface like the zalman may prove more useful. I do not want to carry around a hard drive but a similar device using flash memory could be good.

 

 

I can not even say just how badly I want to see this project succeed and fulfill my needs :) I vowed to make the last 100 disc stack of dvd's my last ever.


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#7 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 12:41 PM

Well, about the Zalmann thingy, IMHO a 2.5" disk is not that big/inconvenient, and you can still replace the disk with a 2.5" SSD or even with a SD card adapter and SD card, to reduce, if not size, at least weight.

 

As a matter of fact among the reasons why I never bought an Isostick is the fact that given my traditional abilities on losing/forgetting the tiny USB sticks, and/or have them washed inside my trousers pocket/overrun by a wheel loader/drop them in a concrete cast (really, not a joke :() it would last no more than a few weeks, maybe months :dubbio: in my hands (and I cannot afford this given it's rather steep price).

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#8 bblaauw

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 06:12 PM

The Zalman unit has some drawbacks as well:

* 2.5" disk format so 1GB is the maximum capacity (unless case height is enough to allow physically larger drives)

* only SATA-2 internally. Enough for HDD, not enough for top SSDs

* lack of UASP support?

 

Can you already guess I prefer SSD over HDD? Silence, shock-proof, faster, etc.
While at it, a smaller version of this case only allowing mSATA would be nice. Wonko would be able to loose it though :)

 

Anyway, I like both the Zalman unit and the ISOSTICK. http://www.sandisk.c...-cards/microsd/ has some fast (sequential) storage cards that the ISOSTICK controller unfortunately can't do full justice.



#9 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 07:27 PM

* 2.5" disk format so 1GB is the maximum capacity (unless case height is enough to allow physically larger drives)

 Hmmm. :whistling:

I ghouthg ghag hard disks wigh treager capacigy exisged sgill wighin ghe available heithg...  ;)

 

* only SATA-2 internally. Enough for HDD, not enough for top SSDs

... which higher speed would be however nullified by the USB connection? :unsure: :dubbio:

 

And anyway that setup cannot "compete" with the Isostick + SD card which is "inherently" VERY slow..

 

BTW - and as a side note - have you seen how some of the newish USB sticks are USB to SATA + SATA SDI?

http://reboot.pro/to...ssion/?p=175112

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#10 coder

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 07:29 PM

@Jeffrey

if you are a consultant then sure you always have your laptop with you;

then why don't you just install a good multi OS PXE server, or MDT w/o WDS in your lappy
and you just perform network installs wherever you go? :dubbio:
no disk stack, no fauly isostick, just your laptop.



#11 bblaauw

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 07:44 PM

Hmmm. :whistling:
I ghouthg ghag hard disks wigh treager capacigy exisged sgill wighin ghe available heithg...  ;)


Oops, 1TB I mean. My point is, regular height (7mm/9mm) 2.5" drives max out at 1TB currently. I think there's a couple taller drives with 1.6 or 2TB capacity.
 

... which higher speed would be however nullified by the USB connection? :unsure: :dubbio:


Pretty sure USB3 can go (slightly) beyond 300MB/s, which is the theoretical SATA-2 limit. Practical SATA-2 limit is lower (270MB/s ?). Implementing SATA-3 (Sata/6g) would allow to exceed practical SATA-2 limit, reach and exceed theoretical SATA-2 limit, and get stuck somewhere below USB3/SATA3 practical speeds depending on disks, controllers, ports, hubs, other overhead, etc.
 

And anyway that setup cannot "compete" with the Isostick + SD card which is "inherently" VERY slow..


You're absolutely right there. Who knows, someday a faster ISOSTICK, perhaps chaining real USB sticks to it instead of microSD.
 

BTW - and as a side note - have you seen how some of the newish USB sticks are USB to SATA + SATA SDI?
http://reboot.pro/to...ssion/?p=175112


Nope, will take a look. Anything special about it? An USB-stick physically sized to not block any adjacent ports yet having SSD-like performance properties simply doesn't exist yet (to my knowledge).
Windows-To-Go USB sticks have too large dimensions. Physical acceptance something having the same dimensions as the Lexar Jumpdrive Triton and P10.

Edited by bblaauw, 29 July 2013 - 07:48 PM.


#12 Jeffrey Klassen

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 07:50 PM

@coder Its an idea, but a bulkier one. I do not carry a laptop with me unless I have too. I am as minimalist as I can get. Which is why the ISOstick is attractive to me.

 

I have also had a hard time in the past converting regular ISO's into a PXE bootable format. Which made the PXE setup a lot more effort with little reward then just inserting a cd. What solution do you use for PXE? and are you able to boot ISO natively? 



#13 DarkPhoeniX

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 10:03 PM

@Jeffrey

Have You tryed Easy2boot? 

And Make sure you have a disk with PLoP !

I found that most PC's From 2005 onward Will work at least with PloP or native USB booting

And PC's before 2005 well .....destroy :devil: !!



#14 coder

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 10:30 PM

@coder Its an idea, but a bulkier one. I do not carry a laptop with me unless I have too. I am as minimalist as I can get. Which is why the ISOstick is attractive to me.

 

I have also had a hard time in the past converting regular ISO's into a PXE bootable format. Which made the PXE setup a lot more effort with little reward then just inserting a cd. What solution do you use for PXE? and are you able to boot ISO natively? 

 

 

If you are into net installing customized MS images you can consider MDT w/o WDS, see here:

http://c-nergy.be/blog/?p=2026

 

if you want to net install MS ISOs and/or Linux ISOs see Serva here:

http://vercot.com/~s...indowsPXE1.html

 

in both cases you have to copy the content of the ISO into your HDD.
Serva's method if far the easiest and both way faster than booting/installing from USB stuff



#15 Jeffrey Klassen

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Posted 29 July 2013 - 10:37 PM

Thank you, I may have to look into the different methods again when I get some time. Would be nice for my home setup although it does not fit well with my mobile kit.



#16 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 30 July 2013 - 11:43 AM

Well, the solution to *some* (not necessarily *all*) issues (to expand on coder's nice idea of "PXE boot *anything*") could be the use of a "brick PC" or, nowadays, of a "plug PC", something like these:
http://www.plugcompu...computer-basic/
http://www.plugcompu...uruplug-server/
or even a raspberry PI model B :
http://www.raspberrypi.org/faqs
http://box.matto.nl/raspberrypxe.html
and IMHO pibow cases are cool B):
http://shop.pimoroni...llections/pibow
 
@bblaauw
In my simplicity, I often carry with me (when I go to some friend's to fix his/her PC) one of these:
http://img.diytrade....it.jpg?dur=2467
 
but basically what one needs for those "stupidly large USB devices covering more than one USB port" is just one of these ;):
http://www.coolgear....s/AA-UF-05B.jpg
and, if you are looking dor something "fancy", it also exists :w00t::
http://www.behance.n...sb-Snake/111768

:cheers:
Wonko

#17 SuperTechie

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 06:19 PM

I've had the best success with either using GRUB4DOS's boot loader or Windows PE native boot loader on Kingston 16GB flash drives.  I own both the ISOSTICK and the Zalman unit.  The Zalman unit kept corrupting the file system on the hard drive and I suspect it might have something to do with it trying to draw too much power over the USB ports, so I stepped it down to a 500GB hard drive, but I haven't really used it that much nor the ISOSTICK.  I just tried the ISOSTICK on my Optiplex 390 and it now works where it didn't last September, so ISOSTICK is going in the right direction.  However, the Kingston boots my LiteTouch ISOs much faster than the ISOSTICK, even though I have a 32GB Class 10 SD card in it.

Weird?



#18 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 01 August 2013 - 06:33 PM

However, the Kingston boots my LiteTouch ISOs much faster than the ISOSTICK, even though I have a 32GB Class 10 SD card in it.
Weird?

Actually perfectly "normal" the ISOstick is "inherently" VERY slow, it was already slow when it came out, and the gap is widening (because "normal" stick speed evolved in the meantime).
The Isostick, "by design" has a theoretical speed of 12MByte/s which is comparable to that of rather oldish "plain USB sticks":
http://reboot.pro/to...on-to-isostick/

Isostick uses 480Mbit/s High-Speed USB 2.0 for fast transfers.
Average Read speed is 12MByte/s from either the flash or optical drive. That's 81x in CD speeds, 9x in DVD speeds.
Average Write speed is 6MByte/s for prototypes, should be 10MByte/s in production. That's 40x/68x in CD speeds, 4x/7x in DVD speeds.
Without the seek time of real optical drives, it is even faster than a CD/DVD of the speeds listed above.


:cheers:
Wonko

#19 assarbad

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 02:22 PM

Actually perfectly "normal" the ISOstick is "inherently" VERY slow, it was already slow when it came out, and the gap is widening (because "normal" stick speed evolved in the meantime).
The Isostick, "by design" has a theoretical speed of 12MByte/s which is comparable to that of rather oldish "plain USB sticks":
http://reboot.pro/to...on-to-isostick/
 

I agree it is slow and slower than advertised. But quite frankly for this tool it doesn't even bother me. What matters is the read-speed during installations. And seeing a Windows installation rush through in a manner you can only otherwise see inside a VM guest is pretty cool. Wish this would have been available 8-10 years ago.



#20 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 02:39 PM

What matters is the read-speed during installations. And seeing a Windows installation rush through in a manner you can only otherwise see inside a VM guest is pretty cool. Wish this would have been available 8-10 years ago.

Well, JFYI, you can use *any* normal (and "fastish") stick to install a Windows install, and you can do this since late 2006.

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#21 assarbad

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Posted 04 August 2013 - 07:31 PM

Well, JFYI, you can use *any* normal (and "fastish") stick to install a Windows install, and you can do this since late 2006.

 

Hey Wonko, yep I'm aware of that. Used to do preinstallation stuff even back in NT4 and 2000 times when this was severely buggy. Still, I consider the ISO stick technically superior and it requires less preparation ... in short bigger bang for the buck. If it wasn't for the (IMO unnecessary) shortcomings.



#22 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 08:27 AM

As always I may be wrong (unlikely, but possible :whistling:), but as I see it the advantage of the Isostick (or of the Zalman, for that matters) is only for the easiness of the concept and easiness of use/preparation.

 

For single USB booting (say to install/deploy a single OS) a "plain stick" is "just as good", if not "much better".

 

For multiple USB booting we have by now software solutions (grub4dos or other bootmanager based) that cover if not actually 100% of needs, 98.37% of them (I like exact numbers, and I fake :w00t: them in an accurate manner ;)).

 

What really takes me "off balance" is that, in my perverted mind, a "pro" (i.e. one that actually *needs* a multiboot thingy ) should have the technical knowledge to use the "normal" means (and thus need not an Isostick) whilst a non-technical-savvy user would find it a killer device and would *need* it even if he/she doesn't actually *need* it really. :w00t:

 

I mean, it seems to me a lot like (most of) the historical nonsense :ph34r: of "unattended installs" and "Linux collectors".

 

Someone who is actually deploying tens of PC's a month may find more than justified the (non-trifling) time spent to put together a "perfect unattended" setup.

Any non-pro that may at the very most install one or two PC's a month can do a normal install (and have a coffee or take a walk and come back to the PC) alright.

Yet the number of non-pro's that go through the long and troublesome "unattended" install creation path is extraordinary high.

 

Someone who is actually (or wants to become) a Linux expert would logically (after having tested a few distro's) find a suitable "base" one and then learn to use it fully and to customize it along his/her own needs/likings.

Yet, if you look around, it is full of people with sticks with tens of distro's (that have exactly the same programs/tools inside) that the user has not the faintest idea how to use (and coming here asking help to senselessly add yet another distro - same as the many others already on the stick - for no apparent reason).

The only kind of person which may require multiple Linux Distro's on a stick beyond two or at the most three of them (a very basic one say DSL for low power machines, a "disk recovery" oriented one, say Parted Magic, and a "full" distro, say one of the tens of *buntu family or a Slackware) could be a technical journalist going to write a comparison article on the various distro's.

 

So, back to topic, besides the issue(s) that generated this thread (which I am sure will be soon solved :)), I see the speed (or lack thereof) of the Isostick as a showstopper for the "pro's" to whom shaving off a handful of minutes from an install may make a difference.

 

If I may provide a generic suggestion to ElegantInvention, there is now (IMHO) a *need*  for a "Isostick Mark II", with a faster data transfer (USB3?).

 

:cheers:

Wonko 



#23 assarbad

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 12:40 PM

Two things ... (mainly)

 

What really takes me "off balance" is that, in my perverted mind, a "pro" (i.e. one that actually *needs* a multiboot thingy ) should have the technical knowledge to use the "normal" means (and thus need not an Isostick) whilst a non-technical-savvy user would find it a killer device and would *need* it even if he/she doesn't actually *need* it really. :w00t:

I agree, but there's no contradiction. A professional will always strive to optimize his/her own means and something like ISOstick lends itself to that purpose, when it works.

 

 

 

Someone who is actually deploying tens of PC's a month may find more than justified the (non-trifling) time spent to put together a "perfect unattended" setup.

Any non-pro that may at the very most install one or two PC's a month can do a normal install (and have a coffee or take a walk and come back to the PC) alright.

Yet the number of non-pro's that go through the long and troublesome "unattended" install creation path is extraordinary high.

... and the process has become so trivial that anyone can do it these days ;)

 

Also in the above I don't see a contradiction between the use of the "unattended setup" and an ISOstick. Saves me a few CD blanks I would normally have wasted in pre-virtualization times ...

 

If I may provide a generic suggestion to ElegantInvention, there is now (IMHO) a *need*  for a "Isostick Mark II", with a faster data transfer (USB3?).

I think many of us would be happy if it could attain anywhere near the theoretical speed of USB2. But AFAIK the bottleneck is anyway the microSD controller.



#24 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 01:45 PM

Also in the above I don't see a contradiction between the use of the "unattended setup" and an ISOstick. Saves me a few CD blanks I would normally have wasted in pre-virtualization times ...

No contradiction even hinted between "unattended" and ISOstick.

 

The contradiction exists IMHO between "Unattended" and "attended" and their common use (and BTW the common approach of "let's reinstall" even if all is needed is to flip a bit inside a single Registry key to solve the issue which is instead solved through reinstalling).

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#25 elegantinvention

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 02:23 PM

If I may provide a generic suggestion to ElegantInvention, there is now (IMHO) a *need*  for a "Isostick Mark II", with a faster data transfer (USB3?).

I think many of us would be happy if it could attain anywhere near the theoretical speed of USB2. But AFAIK the bottleneck is anyway the microSD controller.

You are correct that the bottleneck is the microSD controller in the chip isostick uses.

I agree that a "Mark II" with faster transfer rates would be good, although I'm not sure I would say there is a need ;) In most cases isostick is still faster than optical media, and I think most users will copy their most-used ISOs to it only once and then update them occasionally. While the slow transfer rates do reduce its utility as a general-purpose flash drive, I think as a "stick full of ISOs" it still does well at its current level of performance.

 

That said, I do plan to develop a second generation device once more of the compatibility issues of the current firmware are solved, since I will carry the same codebase over to the new device.

 

While I am always hesitant to discuss something that is still very much in the idea phase, I think I've mentioned this elsewhere anyway... My preliminary plans for the second-gen isostick is a "pass through" device, with a USB device port and host socket. This would plug between any USB Mass Storage device and a computer, adding a read-only switch and all isostick functionality.

 

Unfortunately I do not believe that device will be USB3, as much as I would like it to be. Support for USB3 is currently limited to high-end ARM chips (such as those you might find a tablet rather than a USB stick), and USB3 <-> SATA interface chips.

 

Even if it is "only" USB2, I am reasonably confident it can be made to saturate USB2, with the only bottleneck being whatever storage device is attached. USB Mass Storage makes this slightly more difficult because it lacks command queuing (which UASP has, being a proper SCSI wrapper); this introduces some latency, but assuming the computer issues sufficiently large reads it should not be very noticeable.

 

:cheers:


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