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#26 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 03:37 PM

Well, the *need* was between asterisks for a reason ;).

 

Still - though I have no way to prove it - I am pretty sure that a "plain" USB 2 stick with a decent controller can run circles around an Isostick even with one of it's legs :w00t: tied behind it's back. :ph34r:

 

And with semi-automated stick building - like the Easy2boot thingy Steve6375 put together - both the lazy expert and the inexperienced user can put together a "stick full of ISO's" with very little effort (and with the advantage of using if needed/wanted NTFS, hence "monolithic" larger images)

 

Dont' take these as pointless critics, they are only meant to let you know my point of view on the matter, but then the only advantage of the ISOstick that remains is the use of micro SD cards (in theory you can have an unlimited number of these and thus an infinite amount of .iso's) and the write blocking switch, but these are not something that really-really make me tear my hair off from the joy.

 

Being personally cheap, and as a matter of fact very cheap, I cannot but make some economic comparison:

  1. Isostick + Sd card= between 100 and 130 US$ depending on capacity of the card (last time I checked, I might be vastly incorrect in this :unsure:)
  2. "plain" stick 32 Gb = around 20-25 US$
  3. superfast stick (USB 3/SSD) 32 Gb= around 90 US$ <-added advantage that it is seen as "fixed disk", useful on some BIOSes

To this you need to add (and again this is not intended as a particular critic only as an objective representation of facts) that the Isostick is often "out of stock", that the promised "bettered firmware" has not been delivered (or it was not "bettered enough") in a "reasonable" amount of time and that the "initial" geekish/novelty effect has faded away.

 

In other words (and IMHO) the Isostick for a brief initial period of time has been "leading edge" and "must have", after almost one year of life it has lost some of it's attractiveness and a "refresh" might be needed. (things age faaast in this field :whistling:)

 

Please, consider also how the completely faked data represented in my USB stick graph:

http://reboot.pro/to...al-pe/?p=166593

may have a (minimal) adherence to real life.

 

 

And remember how that is "yeah, well, that's just, like, my opinion, man." :)

http://reboot.pro/to...stick/?p=166703

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#27 elegantinvention

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Posted 05 August 2013 - 04:51 PM

All very good points :)

 

What are your thoughts regarding a USB2.0 "pass-thru" isostick as mentioned in my post? Let's assume it can saturate USB2, and it has all the still-pending updates (optical-only mode, EFI compatibility fixes, etc). In your opinion would this be enough of a refresh or would you expect nothing less than USB3 at this point? In either case, what sort of price would you expect to pay?

 

For added fun, if the whole of Mark II was open source and you could modify it to your liking and make it do anything, not just emulate an optical drive, would that have any bearing on what you're willing to pay?

 

Of course, anyone else reading this thread, please feel free to answer also  ^_^



#28 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 09:52 AM

I don't know. :w00t:
I mean, personally (and having not to install/deploy/whatever a zillion PC's per month) speed is not that much an issue.
 
I am (alas) coming from a time when the time needed to do something was the time needed to do something (and doing it properly ;)), I feel - and this is a sign of aging  :w00t: - that the younger peeps (and the kids) have a passion for speed even when that is not really-really needed.
 
A *whatever* saturating USB 2.0 speed should mean (in real world) getting something like 30-40 Mb/sec.
http://reboot.pro/to...nchmark-thread/
 
That would be 3 or 4 times the speed of the "current" Isostick.
To me it would be "enough", but you have to consider how the Isostick has (or has had) IMHO three main "markets" (all more or less "niches"):

  • the pro (which as said may well go all the way  for the fastest USB 3 + SSD with some multiboot software)
  • the geek (for which the main reason to buy is that of "having it" and showing off how geek he is)
  • the kid (for which the only reason is to race for pink slips against his mates and of course also show off)

An example "current" USB 3.0 SSD based stick seems like ranging in the:
http://thessdreview....drive-review/3/
200-250 Mb/s
That is 5 or 6 times the speed of a fastish USB 2 and something like 20 times the speed of the "current" isostick. 
 
In real world (it's not like only the raw sustained read speed is involved)  that should mean that probably with a Isostick it takes 50 to 120 seconds to boot *something* (an absolutely arbitrary "average" OS payload) whilst with the fastest USB 3 thingy it may take 30 to 40 seconds, and a "fastish" USB 2.0 anywhere between 40 and 80 seconds.
(data is absolutely created anew from thin air and does not in any way represent the results of actual comparative tests ;))
 
But consider the intended target of buyers.
 
A number of Ferrari's and Porsche's can usually reach speeds well beyond 260 kmh.
A number of much planer looking cars (some top versions of BMW and Mercedes, as an example) can also reach those speeds but they have an electronic cutoff at 250 kmh.
Noone (in his right mind) and anyway only a very small minority of the owners has ever reached outside a racing track (as an example on some stretches of highways in Germany) a speed higher than - say - 240 Kmh and only for a few minutes.
 
Actually, if you could log the operating parameters of a statistically significant sample of those cars, you would probably see how in a random sample of 1000 hours of the engine will have worked:

  • 998 hours below 180 Kmh
  • 2 hours above 180 kmh

in more detail:

  • 2 hours above 180 kmh
  • 31 hours below 180 kmh but above 130 kmh
  • 221 hours below 130 kmh but above 90 kmh
  • 455 hours below 90 kmh but above 60 kmh
  • 241 hours below 60 kmh

Now, if you would analyze the correspondent log of a "common" car only slightly bigger/more powerful than a city car, you would see that it would be very similar, the only difference being that  "the 2 hours" are not there, and the 31 becomes 33.
 
Yet, a number of people (that can afford the price) do actually buy cars that they use mostly in exactly the same way as ordinary cars and are willing to pay twice, thrice or more the money for the privilege of pressing the accelerator for no more than 8 seconds and reach 160 Kmh in 3rd gear and immediately after slow down to a "normal" speed (which is cool  :matrix:  , but not *needed*).
 
It is obvious that such people buy those for non-rational *needs* but for other reasons (all respectable, BTW).
 
As I see it, if you keep the price "high", you need to target this same kind of people (and *somehow* deliver the very top speed and/or the very top comfort), or you need *somehow* to compress the costs and manage to sell the "average" Isostick at an only slightly higher price than an "average" USB 2.0 speed, thus - hopefully - widen the intended target to the "average user".
 
Nothing prevents (in theory :ph34r:) to have (only semi-random ideas, mind you):

  • Isostick Mk2 <- USB2 bus, micro-SD card "comfort", priced anything between 50 and 80 US$ included a 32 Gb card
  • Isostick Mk3 <- USB3 bus, SSD, 32 Gb priced anything between 120 and 150 US$
  • Isostick Mk3 super-hyper-deluxe <- USB3 bus, replaceable SSD :w00t:, priced anything above 150 US$ included a 32 Gb SSD[1]

[1]and you will also need to re-design the Isostick looks/case (which currently is "very plain") to make it "an object of desire" :dubbio:
 
:cheers:
Wonko


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#29 elegantinvention

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 12:07 PM

the kid (for which the only reason is to race for pink slips against his mates and of course also show off)

:loleverybody:  :clapping: 
 

Nothing prevents (in theory :ph34r:) to have (only semi-random ideas, mind you):

  • Isostick Mk2 <- USB2 bus, micro-SD card "comfort", priced anything between 50 and 80 US$ included a 32 Gb card
  • Isostick Mk3 <- USB3 bus, SSD, 32 Gb priced anything between 120 and 150 US$
  • Isostick Mk3 super-hyper-deluxe <- USB3 bus, replaceable SSD :w00t:, priced anything above 150 US$ included a 32 Gb SSD[1]

Thanks for elaborating  :good:



#30 assarbad

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 02:00 PM

What are your thoughts regarding a USB2.0 "pass-thru" isostick as mentioned in my post? Let's assume it can saturate USB2, and it has all the still-pending updates (optical-only mode, EFI compatibility fixes, etc). In your opinion would this be enough of a refresh or would you expect nothing less than USB3 at this point? In either case, what sort of price would you expect to pay?

 

I would be more than contend with USB2. I don't see the ISOstick as a replacement or alternative for my other USB memory sticks. Heck, even with "normal" USB keys you have to look a lot until you find one that is truly as fast as promised by the vendor.

 

A device akin to that other project I pointed out on your blog some months ago would be brilliant. I.e. instead of sticking to the form factor of the ISOstick right now, make it bigger but move the selection of the ISO from isosel.bin into that device (two or three buttons and a small display will do). Now if that device didn't have any storage of its own (I guess this is what you meant by pass-thru?) and would act as a "proxy" for another storage and all of that would still be bus-powered, I'd say that I would easily shell out the same or more to get my hands on it. Of course there would still be requirements as to which file system is supported on the attached storage media, but that's fine (and expected).

 

For added fun, if the whole of Mark II was open source and you could modify it to your liking and make it do anything, not just emulate an optical drive, would that have any bearing on what you're willing to pay?

Not sure, because at the moment this is fairly theoretical, given none of us has the ability to attach a JTAG probe and then do stuff. Well ... the contacts are there but you mentioned that they are dead at the moment and I haven't tested it on my own so far.



#31 Wonko the Sane

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 02:44 PM

Not sure, because at the moment this is fairly theoretical, given none of us has the ability to attach a JTAG probe and then do stuff. Well ... the contacts are there but you mentioned that they are dead at the moment and I haven't tested it on my own so far.

assarbad, JFYI, if you want to play with somehting that is already open source, see here:

http://renosite.com/

http://renosite.com/...ewforum.php?f=7

 

:cheers:

Wonko



#32 assarbad

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Posted 06 August 2013 - 02:46 PM

assarbad, JFYI, if you want to play with somehting that is already open source, see here:

http://renosite.com/

http://renosite.com/...ewforum.php?f=7

Thanks, that's the one I mentioned on the ISOstick blog (to which I referred in my previous post ;))

 

FLOSS in this case isn't helpful because you still need to get handy with the hardware.


Edited by assarbad, 06 August 2013 - 02:47 PM.


#33 Jeffrey Klassen

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 09:13 PM

For anyone that has come to the same conclusion as myself about the isostick (does not work and has been completely abandoned by the developer), make sure you check out Easy2Boot: http://www.easy2boot.com/

So far in my testing it has been working great and with much greater compatibility. Even better you can use it with any USB drive, including usb3 drives.  It is a free project that may not be the most user friendly at first but the type of people that need this kind of device should have no issues making one. One negative thing I have found is some usb drives get detected better on some machines. I have some cheapo 8GB drives that have failed to boot on one machine but my normal everyday 64GB drive has worked like a charm on all machines I have tried so far.

 

I probably wont be coming back to this forum again as its basically dead, along with the isostick, but I thought I would share this for anyone interested.


Edited by Jeffrey Klassen, 07 February 2015 - 09:15 PM.


#34 bblaauw

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 09:30 PM

I'm not sure about the status of this hardware and its firmware either. However, software isn't an alternative except maybe when sold as ready-to-go on some kind of USB flash drive by the Easy2Boot creator.

 

Hardware devices like the Zalman VE300 (select in display) or Digitus MegaMount (press a single button to switch between images or HDD mode) are the real alternatives. Some USB flash drives from Lexar seem to allow setting an ISO area also. I wish msata based ISO-emulators would be released so smaller external drives.

 

Wouldn't mind seeing ElegantInvention selling the Isostick to some larger company like Sandisk or Lexar so they can release a tiny microSD-card reader with hardware ISO emulation capabilities.

 

There's so much multiboot software available I'm not even bothering to keep up with everything. Easiest to see how Linux distro's use GRUB and Syslinux, and adapt your own config files to it.


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#35 Jeffrey Klassen

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Posted 07 February 2015 - 11:54 PM

It is not a hardware emulator, but if you are looking to have a usb drive with all your bootable images in one easy to manage drive, that's exactly what it does, and in that scenario it is a direct alternative. I have every version of windows, dozens of utilities and Linux ISO's stored on a single usb key. It allows me to boot into a menu and choose which ISO to boot. Adding a new iso is as easy as dragging it into a folder on the drive and running a quick cmd file.

 

Yes those hardware emulators are more direct alternatives but I do not think anyone has done it well yet. Although the Digitus is new to me, may have to give it a try.

 

I am personally not aware of any other multiboot software that allows this kind of ease or flexibility of just coping new ISO files to the drive. If you know of any I would be interested in know about them. Easy2Boot is basically just using grub but with a whole bunch of scripting to make things work properly. Not sure of anything else like that.



#36 Rootman

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Posted 08 February 2015 - 01:19 AM

A few years back I had just about ordered an ISOstick and just read too many issues with it. Then I gave Easy2Boot a try.  It is perhaps one of most valuable tools in my arsenal. Every USB drive I get immediately gets Easy2Boot installed on it and I always have a USB stick in my pocket loaded with various ISOs and tools. 

 

I don't often install Windows from scratch,  but when I do it's from an Easy2Boot USB drive.  There are a few ways to do it but I prefer just to create an Image Partition with the MPI Tool pack.  I select the .imgPTN file to make it the bootable partition then reboot the stick to it and install Windows in minutes.  I have 6 different Windows variations on all sticks. I can install via MBR or UEFI just by selecting how I boot the stick from the systems BIOS boot menu.

 

When installing Easy2Boot on a new stick make sure and reformat the stick using RMPrepUSB, a LOT of USB sticks come with funky boot sectors that will possibly screw up Easy2Boot's booting methods.  Also use RMPrepUSB to install Grub4DOS to the MBR and PBR. Then just copy the Easy2Boot files form the zip file to the stick.  Place your ISO files in their proper folders and boot away!



#37 assarbad

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Posted 09 February 2015 - 07:30 AM

The virtual enclosures from Zalman have USB 3.0 support as well. I run all of mine with SSDs and they perform very well. Installing from it is a similar experience to installing something inside a virtual machine with an ISO image from hard drive. Mission accomplished.

 

I'm not sure about the status of this hardware and its firmware either. However, software isn't an alternative except maybe when sold as ready-to-go on some kind of USB flash drive by the Easy2Boot creator.

 

Hardware devices like the Zalman VE300 (select in display) or Digitus MegaMount (press a single button to switch between images or HDD mode) are the real alternatives. Some USB flash drives from Lexar seem to allow setting an ISO area also.

It appears a lot of USB thumb keys do, but it's not advertised. There are some flash controller utilities floating around on the web allowing to do such a thing based on your specific flash controller model.

 

It is not a hardware emulator, but if you are looking to have a usb drive with all your bootable images in one easy to manage drive, that's exactly what it does, and in that scenario it is a direct alternative. I have every version of windows, dozens of utilities and Linux ISO's stored on a single usb key. It allows me to boot into a menu and choose which ISO to boot. Adding a new iso is as easy as dragging it into a folder on the drive and running a quick cmd file.

 

Yes those hardware emulators are more direct alternatives but I do not think anyone has done it well yet. Although the Digitus is new to me, may have to give it a try.

Perhaps no one has come up with the perfect solution yet, right. However, when I read the first paragraph I had to smirk. For me adding a new ISO is as easy as copying it into a folder. No running of a script needed.

 

 

I have flashed one of my Zalman ZM-VE400 with the original iODD hardware and the other one I kept with the latest Zalman firmware. The hardware is the same, just the firmware differs and probably packaging or so. Point was: Zalman filed for bankruptcy and I decided I was afraid I wouldn't get any updates anymore. Since I knew they were just rebranding an existing solution, I knew where to go.

However, here in the EU I have been unable to come across an actual iODD drive without ordering it via the US (which involves toll).

 

Something like the ZM-VE400 is as close to the solution I ever wanted as they've come. Sure, it's bigger. But with the SSDs it's still very light and it still fits into a pocket fine.

 

 

So yeah: would be even cooler to have it in a smaller form factor, but at some point you'll run into issues as to how small you can make those things while retaining functionality (such as display plus key pad in the ZM-VE400).

 

 

And another thing that seems to be of little concern to most, but is a good argument: if you ever have to boot a non-x86-based platform that requires a CD drive. That is something outright impossible with the solution from Easy2Boot and at the very least very inconvenient with the ISOstick, if it works at all (assuming only the boot menu won't work). The iODD/Zalman worked to install Debian and MacOSX on an old PowerPC Mac, for example.

 

All of those solutions are strictly speaking software based. The question is whether the software runs independent of the host machine or not. With the iODD/Zalman it evidently does.






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