Ditching Optical Media


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Thinking Back…

For the last three years I have wanted to start a slogan-based campaign to rival the likes of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”!  It is a simple slogan, but one that did rise out of annoyance and necessity.  So, without a proper logo, I ask you close your eyes and imagine saying:

“Don’t burn it, flash it!”


Well?  Yup, I know.  The slogan needs some work.

Still, every machine I’ve built over the last four or five years, I’ve pretty much left out the optical drives.  From XenServer to rebuilding home machines for friends: it is just more practical to buy slot covers than to invest in an optical reader/burner when every laptop or desktop seems to have 10,000 USB ports.

Yet, there are plenty of reasons where a DVD or CD-ROM drive are completely relevant.  I know in my family, us computer geeks keep copies of Norton Ghost on bootable CD-ROM media (and floppy), burn copies of Live CD antivirus for testing, or to make copies of family movies we transferred to DVD before streaming media became all the rave.

The nostalgic, grumpy, “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” side of me has to fall silent as I look at a spare CD-ROM drive from an old Sun Workstation, Gateway PC, or generic machine from “the old school”…

“Go put it in recycling.  You have 10 spares for your older compute systems.”


Modern and Logical

You can make a USB thumb drive bootable from an ISO or disk image, so what is the need for dual-layer DVDs or CD-ROMs, etc?  You can use USB to store your archive of literal crap you will never need.  You can even use a USB hub to connect other USB hubs together: hording “data” while listening to your DRM protected Big Data MP3s off of another USB device…


The ironic thing is that a USB bootable thumb drive can help you lock down a system so it never has to use USB again: after setting up an infrastructure I want no one to mess with (even if it dies).  Boot off of the USB drive, install what you need, reboot and remove said USB drive, go back into BIOS, lock down the BIOS to prevent non-hard disk boot, remove the drives or at least the power to USB and optical devices, and so on.

Sure, maybe someone could use a floppy to boot from, but that seems to be not only a foreign concept to many, but it also means your modern system has to have a floppy drive… or you have to have a USB-based floppy drive, but with USB ports physically and BIOS disabled… yeah, nothing is booting off of an external source.


Thoughts Distant to USB and Optical Media

All of the USB stuff is groovy and if you know me personally, I have at least six or seven thumb drives on me along with a multi-terabyte USB drive.  I have enough data to setup real environments, install my favorite games, hold backups of important data, or tote my music around.  While I can’t use a sharpie to label the small things, I can just unplug one thumb drive for another until I find what I am looking for.

Adding up all of what I seemed to have bragged about (regarding USB storage), I failed to mention I only switched to it due to the massive size of every stinking download I seem to come across.  Games?  I get it.  Operating Systems.  You get on my nerves.

I have to ask (rhetorically to you, but in seriousness to Linux/Win/Alt OS distribution producers):

Why so much space consumption?  Why are all installers so bloated?  Why?  Why?  Why?

It seems as if processors and RAM are pretty much irrelevant because of all of that data (and yes, even empty spaces for data) that has to be handled.  It makes me wonder if processors and RAM are really faster or if developers have to cram so much crap into installers, dependencies, and so forth that… SURE!  Let’s use a 4.99GB install image?!?!

Come on!?  Do you expect home users to install fibre channel cards with toss links to a dedicated storage controller (optional head unit on payment of your first born child)?  That is the stuff of business and it does really bother me at the sheer size of bytes software uses.

But, in the end, I’m not the lead producing these projects, but please Microsoft, Linux-distros, and the like: don’t give us an awesome tech preview and then expect us to be happy about a 12,123,543 GB download.  I don’t have the redundant, raid-level USB drives to store it!


— JK Benedict | @xenfomation


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