And with the 250GB or 1TB expansion storage card, the expansion storage could be formatted as NTFS or exFAT so it could be mounted by either the Linux or Windows OS running on the NVME drive of choice.
This sounds nice, although right now your options are using external hard drives, the 250GB Expansion card or the 1TB Expansion card, or simply some larger flash drives. Using 128GB thumb drives plugged into just a USB-A expansion card port, Linux runs without any hitches for me across many distros. If you distro hop just to test/try each one, these are really good options, especially if you have USB 3.2 drives.
That being said, if you need the little extra speed (at peak performance) of an internal SSD for actual use and the extreme storage of a very large drive, your best bet is to wait for the release of the FW16, where it is planned to have a totally customizable removable expansion bay slot on the back of the device. One of the few suggested uses was multiple NVMe drives in said expansion bay.
Really though, if you’re not using each distro as mini daily-drivers with lots of performance and you’re just hopping between them to learn and test and splash around in their terminals, a little USB pouch full of drives works wonders. For me, I have one of these 10-slot pouches with five 32GB SanDisk drives for YUMI Live Linux ISOs, and five 128GB SanDisk single-install OS’s that I move around between my favorites or new updates on. I have never had a performance issue running any OS through these (nor my 2TB external Samsung T7), including under loads, but YMMV. This seemed (at least to me) the best compromise to distro-hop without buying a lot of hard drives.
The speed and performance difference is negligible at best, unless you need the high-bandwidth performance only an internal can give you.
Here’s the little pouch (fits my FW screwdriver!) and the T7:
Thank you for your reply. I typically use Ventoy or Yumi for distro-hopping/distro discovery. However, I primarily use 1 Linux distro as my daily driver but often need Windows for Lightroom and photo scanning software that only runs on Windows. I’ve never liked using Wine so I run Windows on bare metal for performance reasons. I tried Windows in KVM/QEMU but I didn’t like the performance and my USB scanner didn’t play well with the VM.
I have USB 3.2 enclosures for my m.2 nvme drives but haven’t tried running the linux distros from them yet but will soon. That may be a good solution until the FW16 comes out. I will be excited to see the multi-bay NVME expansion slots and hope they may work for my purposes. While I have multiple VMs for development (fedora 37 kde), photo and video editing (linux mint xfce) and others, the performance isn’t as good as bare metal. For my work flow, booting to an easy-swapped NVME drive would work well. I tend to compartmentalize my various tasks so I can stay focused on just that task. And, I don’t have to load up one OS with all of the development and photo/video editing software as well as all of my daily driver software.
Thanks again for your input. I really liked the pouch you referenced. I’ll have to look for one like that. JM
Just like you’d install on an internal SSD, you can do almost the exact same process on an external flash drive or SSD, bootloader and all. It’s great to keep your daily driver clean and only use the OS install on it when needed. For Lightroom/etc, you don’t need a lot of extreme bandwidth that the USB ports can’t already offer, so if you need a bunch of storage (and don’t want to use your internal for that purpose and want to keep it TOTALLY separate), getting a 1TB flash drive or 2TB external SSD may be your easiest solution. If you’re worried about accidentally unplugging it, look into that 1TB expansion card, throw Windows onto it, and keep it separate totally from junking up your internal SSD.
VMs do not work for workstations really, unless really carefully tuned on a beefy performing PC that can spare a handful of cores and a good amount of memory among other things. Honestly, you might really enjoy installing and testing distros on flash drives more than VMs because (other than them being a new OS so you don’t have a host to launch them in, which is faster than shutting down and booting into a new EFI partition manually) you have full performance of your system and less VM-related issues, especially with drivers. You can also take an existing VM and install it to a drive, though a little more complicated that way, it can work. It’s also much faster than swapping out your internal SSDs, and less wear on your screws/board parts which aren’t necessarily designed to be swapped around constantly.
As far as your workflow is concerned, I really like my 2TB Samsung T7 external SSD, I have Mint with Cinnamon on it at the moment, though it needs some updates. It runs extremely fast even over USB because of both the SSD speed and the USB 3.2 being fast (iirc it has 4 PCIe lanes?). I have zero issues with any workflow with it. Your two enclosures should also be handy as well, especially if you’re not going to do anything extreme on them. Depending on what they are, they may get warm to the touch, so be careful. Some sink the heat away really nicely from the drives, but are still pretty spicy to the touch.
Here’s the exact one I got, great for normal-sized flash drives. I opted for these slim little SanDisk drives that the USB port plug is also the body down its length, so they are a little small in those little pockets, but they stay in easy enough. Just gotta push my finger around a little to pop one out, not much of a hassle. Sometimes just hard to see which one is missing if I take one out since they can all kinda hide in there . But it does fit my FW screwdriver lengthwise inside easily, which is very handy.