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Under $30 Stocking Stuffer for Linux, Mac, and Windows -- The Lexar USB JumpDrive

Mike Angelo -- 14 December 2004 (C)

Figure 1. JumpDrives plug into USB ports on laptop and desktop computers. (Graphic courtesy Lexar)

To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

Figure 3. JumpDrive on a key chain. (Graphic courtesy Lexar)

JumpDrive Note:

The JumpDrive is not really a hard drive. It's not a disk drive of any kind. It has no mechanical parts to break. Rather it is electronic memory -- flash memory. However, over time flash memory can wear out, electro-chemically.

Unlike DRAM (as used in RAM memory), flash memory does not get lost when the electricity to it is turned off -- thus flash memory is non-volatile. It is that non-volatile aspect of flash memory that lets it mimic a hard drive.

The electronics built into the JumpDrive make it look like a removable hard drive to the computer operating system. It's pretty slick. You get the reliability, speed, and compactness of electronic memory and the non-volatile aspect of electro-mechanical hard drives.

Are you looking for an affordable holiday gift or a Christmas-stocking stuffer -- one that is very practical, handy, and useful -- with lots of bang for the buck? The Lexar 64-MB or 128-MB JumpDrive might be just for what you are looking -- and they sell for under $30.

The Lexar JumpDrive is a clever device that plugs into a computer's USB port. Please see Figure 1, in the right-hand sidebar.

Once plugged into your PC, the Lexar JumpDrive makes itself look like a standard, (USB) removable hard drive to your computer's operating system. Please see Figure 2, below.

Capacity-wise, the 64-MB JumpDrive holds about as much data as 45 floppy disks -- 90 for the 128-MB JumpDrive. Yet the JumpDrives are only about the size of an egg-shaped silver dollar -- triple thick. Actual dimensions are about 2.5" by 1" x 0.4".

JumpDrive -- a PC in a Pocket

You easily can put a JumpDrive in a shirt pocket or purse. Or, you can put a JumpDrive on your key chain. (Please see Figure 3, in the right-hand sidebar.)

JumpDrives are great for adding some extra hard-drive space to your USB-equipped PC. They also are great for moving data from one computer to another. And they just are so convenient to use.

  • Music

If you have some favorite MP3s, just copy them to a JumpDrive. Then whether at home, school, work, or wherever if you want to listen to your favorite songs, simply plug your JumpDrive into the closest computer's USB port and play your songs on that computer. When you leave, simply pull your musical JumpDrive out of the PC, put it in your pocket or purse, and away you go -- music and all.

  • Data

You can use a JumpDrive to carry your data files around with you too. Simply keep all your word-processor, spreadsheet, personal information (PIM), bookmark, and other such files on a JumpDrive rather than a system, fixed, hard drive.

Then again, whether at home, school, work, or wherever simply plug your data JumpDrive into the closest computer's USB port. Voila, you are all set to get to work writing reports, crunching numbers, doing correspondence, and so forth -- wherever you have access to a USB-equipped computer. When you are done, simply slip the JumpDrive back in your pocket, purse, or briefcase and off you go. That makes the JumpDrive an office in a pocket.

The 128-MB JumpDrive capacity is sufficient to put a mix of office-work files, music files, and even some photo files on it. In effect, the JumpDrive amounts to a PC in a pocket. That's because you can carry all your most used, if not all your, files around with you on a pocket-sized JumpDrive.

  • Security and Privacy

If you are concerned about securing your files and data, a JumpDrive could be just what you need. Simply keep all your files and data on a JumpDrive rather than a system hard drive.

When you are done working with your files and data, simply pull the JumpDrive out of your computer. If someone hacks your PC while the JumpDrive is in your pocket, purse, locked desk drawer, or safe, there is none of your data on the computer for the hacker to get or destroy.

Figure 2. The Lexar JumpDrive makes itself look like a standard, (USB) removable hard drive to your computer's operating system. In Windows Explorer the JumpDrive shows up as a removable disk, Removable Disk (M:) in this screenshoot.

Lexar JumpDrives -- Compatible with Linux, Mac, and Windows

Officially, Lexar lists the 64-MB and 128-MB JumpDrives (models PD064-231 and PD128-231) for use with the Windows 98SE/Me/2000/XP, Mac OS X, and Mac OS 8.6 or higher operating systems (OSs). However, in our tests the PD064-231 runs with the GNU-Linux OS too.

Pogo Altura64 Workstation

The Pogo Altura64 workstation is an excellent PC. It uses the AMD Athlon64 processor, a 64-bit CPU. Our Altura64 has an AMD Athlon64 3000+ microprocessor, ASUS K8V SE Deluxe motherboard, 512-MB RAM, Nvidia GeForce FX 5200 video adapter, 120-GB Western Digital serial ATA (SATA) hard drive, Teac CD-RW/DVD drive, and more.

Linux-wise, we tested the Lexar USB JumpDrive 64-MB PD064-231 with Mandrake Linux 10.1 Official on a Pogo Linux Altura64 desktop and on a HP OmniBook 6000 laptop. The Lexar, PD064-231, 64-MB JumpDrive worked with both systems.

However, please keep in mind that we have not tested the Lexar JumpDrive on other versions of Mandrake Linux nor on other Linux distributions. Lexar does not list the JumpDrive as compatible with Linux. Thus there is no guarantee that the JumpDrive will work on any Linux-based systems.

If you want to use the JumpDrive with a Windows 98SE system, you will have to install drivers for the JumpDrive. The Windows 98SE drivers for the JumpDrives are available for downloading from Lexar's Web site at no charge. We did test the 64-MB JumpDrive on a Windows 98SE box too.

We did not test the 128-MB PD128-231. However, the only difference between the 64-MB PD064-231 and the 128-MB PD128-231 of which we are aware is the storage capacities of the devices.

The reason the JumpDrive works on all three major OSs, Linux, Mac, and Windows, is interesting. Lexar has configured its JumpDrives to identify themselves to the operating systems as USB removable hard drives. That makes JumpDrives pretty much OS independent. It also means that you can use a JumpDrive to transfer files across platforms -- Mac to Windows, Windows to Linux, and so forth.

JumpDrives Are Great Gifts

A JumpDrive makes a great gift anytime. At this time of the year, simple, inexpensive, JumpDrives make great stocking stuffers. And the prices are right. Both the Lexar USB JumpDrive 64-MB PD064-231 and the Lexar USB JumpDrive 128-MB PD128-231 sell for under $30. The 128-MB JumpDrive appears to be the better of the two in the bang-for-the-buck department.

Happy Holidays

Mike Angelo

  • More Christmas, Gift, and Holiday Articles

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