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I would like to keep elementary OS on a USB 3.0 drive, to use a private OS on a business laptop . I'll use the OS for office apps (probably Libre), FreeCad and some IDEs including subversion clients. The required data should be stored on the USB as well. The laptop this should run with is a T430 with nVidia NVS5400m (important for FreeCad).

Do I have to expect any lack of stability or system performance, compared to booting from an internal drive (beside the slower writing/reading speed from the usb-hub compared to an internal SSD)? And is there any possibility that the company recognizes this?

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Lack of stability or system performance: Once configured, I don't think so (never experienced some, from OpenSuse in the early days till Arch, Kali and Mint today), except the slower speed while booting and installing because of the usb stick. The company could see it if the boot parameters are changed in the bios, but there could be other ways. Nevertheless, ask your IT department first before testing it for legal problems!

  • One other way could be that only company-approved machines/systems get network access, so you could either be detected when connecting or not able to connect at all, so offline. – quassy Aug 28 '15 at 1:38
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I use elementary OS and Windows 8.1 to Go (now 10 to Go) for 2 years with an external SSD drive and it work like a charm !

Windows To Go can continue working event after an USB disconnection in opposite of Linux systems which necessarily interrupts the system.

But, if you leave the USB plugged into your computer, you can use your system with really great performances (120 Mo/s write - 180 Mo/s read).

BTW, i use this external SSD on 3 different computer. elementary OS, for development and Windows for gaming and different hobbies.

Link to my blog (in french :/) : https://www.florian-lacrampe.me/2015/01/09/windows-to-go-8-1-et-ubuntu-14-10-sur-un-ssd-portable-usb/

Have a nice day !

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