[RESPONDED] Installing a 2nd OS (Linux) on the expasion card (TLDR: Has something changed about the storage expansions recently?)

Hi all, (TLDR at bottom)

I have an Expansion Card question that I am sure will look like a duplicate, but I feel it isnt.

I bought a non-DIY FW13 with the 11th Gen i7 a few months back when it was discounted. Since I had little freedom with the internals (RAM, HDD, and most importantly, OS), I bought a 1TB expansion for 140 EUR, assuming that I will just install Linux on it.

However, I have the distinct memory of reading somewhere (I thought it was here, but now my searches dont show this - so maybe it was reddit) that the 1TB storage expansion is little more than a glorified USB stick that is permanently plugged into the device. I read that the storage expansion is not meant to run an OS, and that you will (a) extract less than optimum performance from it, and (b) heat up the expansion card during RW cycles.

I am a Ph. D. student and expect that I might run some code from it, possibly IO-heavy since I might run some ML models that write intermediate outputs many times. (I know this device isnt meant for it, it is my secondary device, but I didnt know this wouldnt be possible).

Question is basically this: When I read about the storage expansion now on the FW marketplace, they explicitly say that it is fast enough to boot an OS off of. I believe this wasnt written explicitly when I ordered it (or maybe I didnt read it, since I just assumed it was true). Has there been some design change that makes installing an OS on expansion cards possible? Or should I assume that my expansion can actually hold an OS as well?

I am surprised because I clearly remember reading that the OS cannot be installed* but cannot find this anymore… and the FW website even says the opposite now, so I feel a bit confused.

Thanks, and sorry for the long post!

TLDR: I rememeber reading that storage expansion is bad for dual booting linux from, because it is “practically a USB stick” - OS will not be fast, card heats up, etc. Searching for these comments now I cannot find these statements anymore, and I see the exact opposite in the current expansion card description. I am not sure if something changed with the internals of the expansion cards. Order was placed in July.


  • I felt very stupid and even a bit resentful towards FW at that point, because it just felt like they should have given me that warning up front, that the 140 EUR was just for a thumb drive shaped to fit into my laptop chassis… but I would dearly love to learn that I was wrong all along.


  • Win11
  • want to install Ubuntu LTS
  • FW13, 11th gen i7 1165

It is fast enough for an OS, but it isn’t really recommended for other reasons. As it is connected with USB/Thunderbolt, the expansion card really is considered removable and the system might shut it off e.g. when it detects that the card uses “too much” power or it might get shut off when the system is sleeping etc., which can lead to problems when waking up again. The cards also heat up under constant use.

That said, the card is faster and better quality than any random dumb thumb drive. It’s more like an external SSD. If you’re careful and you’re not writing hundreds of gigabytes of data a day, you can install an OS on it. It’s just not as good as a proper NVMe drive.

The storage cards as far as I know haven’t been changed since the Framework launched (apart from maybe better heat management, there was a problem with overheating that could be fixed by installing a thermal pad, not sure if that now comes by default).


Thermal pad is now there by default.


All expansion cards are connected over USB, and though it is essentially Thunderbolt speeds, it’s still USB, so it isn’t going to be as good as an NVMe drive. Not sure you can really blame Framework for not making it clear that ALL expansion cards connect to the mainboard over USB-C

That said, the Framework laptop’s internal drive is very easy to upgrade, so you could return the expansion card and get an upgraded NVMe drive as an alternative. You could also install both OS’s to the internal drive and save all your documents and code to the expansion card, that way the essential files for running the OS are on the installed drive, but all the bigger files are on the expansion card.

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First off, thanks to all of you for taking the time to reply.

Thanks a lot, your answer makes perfect sense. Thanks for the warning that being “fast enough” is not sufficient for installing an OS.

No blame on Framework at all. I just felt a bit stupid that I made the lazy decision of thinking “oh, that expansion must be a viable alternative to an internal drive” without doing more research. I was only mildly disappointed when I read subsequently that it is no better than a flash drive. From this thread here, it is clear that it is better than a normal thumb drive - there are just some other things I should have thought of as well. The fact that I did not read more carefully is fully on me. I am happy to have read this thread and learn that I was wrong (because FW is a company that is worthy of the trust that I placed in them when I chose not to do my research). I consider returning a product that I bought because I was stupid a bit of a dick move, since it is really no fault of the company - I should own my mistakes :).

I will just wait for black friday to roll around and buy an NVMe. Need some more RAM anyway. Just need to find someone to give my current SSD to, so that I dont feel guilty about my e waste footprint.

Hi @Vishnu_Unnikrishnan, welcome to the community!

For Linux users my recommendation is to use the expansion card for secondary storage or even better, backups. While it is fast enough to run an OS, it is also running an OS over USB. Doable, but with challenges.

From our website: “Both are fast enough to run apps and even boot an operating system from, and you can plug them into other computers for high-speed file transfer.”

In short, yes, you can install Linux on it. No, it will not be a supported experience if you run into issues as I recommend sticking with Nvme.