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I am going to be installing linux to a USB flash drive (an actual install, not a "live usb"). I need it to be completely portable, so I can't realistically have the high-access partitions (swap, var, etc.) located on a HDD instead. I've read a lot about the limited life of flash memory, as well as the advantages + disadvantages of LVM, but have not found any information that addresses my question. Assuming a reasonable amount of RAM (to minimize swappiness), can using or not using an LVM affect the number of reads/writes done and therefore prolong or shorten the drive's lifespan?

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LVM does not substantially change the number of reads or writes. (Total change is zero in most cases, since all it does is translate some numbers in the write command and pass them down.)

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Correct, unless youre using snapshots (which implement copy-on-write). The writes are going to happen anyway, LVM just changes where. –  Patrick Feb 5 '12 at 5:54

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