I have been running PCLinuxOS from a laptop and an external usb sata drive with good
response time. I found a sata firewire/usb backup drive that was not being used.
I bought a firewire cable and started experimenting. My laptop bios does not recognize firewire. Only after linux has booted is the firewire device available.
Got tired of playing with Grub and initrd.img:
1. Plugged in a 1G usb pen drive: formatted as a linux native partition (blank).
2. Hooked up the external drive with firewire cable.
3. Booted the latest PCLinuxOS livecd.
4. Installed to the firewire drive.
5. Included the 1G usb drive in the install with a mount of /boot.
6. Installed the Grub mulit-boot to the 1G usb drive, at the end of the install process.
7. Rebooted, pressing F12 for boot menu.
8. Selected boot from usb.
9. Multi-boot menu appeared and I selected the default linux entry.
10. Boot process began and the firewire drive woke up and took over the boot process.
11. Logged on to the new install and have been running faster (than external usb) ever since.
Note: this should work on any bootable partition.
I leave the 1G pen drive attached because it contains the /boot directory. It would be
required for system updates of the kernel or boot process, though it does not seem to be
accessed after the boot process is completed.
Buffered read comparsions:
non-sata usb: 23mb
internal sata: 27mb
external usb sata: 27-32mb
external firewire sata: 38.3mb - through-put is noticeably faster with less cpu usage.
This firewire linux setup was done on a PC, not a Mac, but should work on any computer.
I am still booting from a usb pen drive into a firewire 400 linux installation
and would not switch back to usb2. Data transfers are faster with a maintained
consistant speed. If you have esata or usb3 external devices, firewire would
not be an issue. But if you have a firewire 400/800 port and an 400/800 device, I would
suggest using it. The steady data transfer rate, with lower cpu usage,
makes it a winner.
Although I am booting into linux, the GRUB menu allows booting to the internal
drive Windows installation also. I see no reason why a firewire Windows installation
could not be reached from the usb GRUB menu. Again, any partition recognizable by
the bios, at boot, could be used for the initial boot. I used an old 1 Gig pen drive
because I did not want to tamper with the internal Windows partition.
If you have all firewire devices/partitions active at the time you do the linux
installation, they should be included in the GRUB menu automatically. The
main purpose of this approach, is to automate the access of bootable firewire
partitions, and eliminate manual tinkering with the boot configuration. Let
the linux installation process do the work for you.