Running Instant Rails from USB key

Hello everyone,

It’s a particularly slow Friday afternoon here, so time to try stuff

I’ve just installed Instant Rails on a USB key, thinking it would be a
great way of showing off Rails in general, giving a progress update to
customers, trying out ideas, and generally all the other benefits that
come from having a completely portable environment.

However, the 168Mb of files that make up my Instant Rails (with extra
gems) is consuming 750Mb of space on my USB key. The reason is simple
enough; the USB is formatted as FAT32, and having lots of small files
stored on a FAT32 partition is a great way to burn your disc space
quickly. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to be able to reformat the USB
key as anything other than FAT or FAT32, and I’m not sure I’d want to
because FAT/FAT32 is really the only format that everything can read
and write to with no problems.

I can go through Instant Rails, remove things and see how small I can
get the disc footprint under FAT32, but hopefully someone’s already
done been down this path and can offer a few suggestions. I’m
reluctant to chop out things such as ActionMailer that I’m not using
yet, because I might well want to play around with it (say) tomorrow.

Any ideas/comments/suggestions?

Thanks in advance

Dave M.

A bit painstaking, maybe, but you could try and find any cases where
there are a few small files which can be combined into one. I’ve never
actually investigated how much ruby will let you do this, but there
must be a few cases where it’s possible.
You could also try not using Instant Rails, and setting it all up
yourself. Maybe that’ll work. Probably be a bit quicker too…
InstantRails was painfully slow on my machine when using the
generators and stuff. I don’t expect anyone’s done any work into
reducing the filesizes, because generally speaking, file size isn’t a
problem anymore. But I hope these suggestions help.

I found TrueCrypt ( which solves a whole bunch of
problems for me. It’s an open source disk encryption tool for Windows
and Linux.

Using it, I’ve been able to:

  • build an “encryption file” on the USB key
  • mount it as a virtual disk
  • format it as NTFS
  • load Instant Rails onto it

Because it’s a NTFS partition, all of Instant Rails now fits in 220Mb
of space, which is a lot nicer.

Plus, the partition is encrypted, so all my mega-million dollar ideas
are safe ;-> Possibly not that important for my Rails stuff, but I
can keep other personal files on the same USB key without worrying
about losing it. Better yet, I can create multiple “encryption files”
and have my personal files secured with one password, and my Rails
stuff secured with another password.

Plus, it gives me a secure, relatively idiot-proof way to move files
around between sites without using Gmail.

At this early stage, TrueCrypt looks like an absolutely brilliant tool

  • if you haven’t checked it out, it’s definitely worth a look.


Dave M.

You could try deleteing a lot of the documentation files that come with
and the various RubyGems that are installed. There are loots of small
and image files here.

Search the “ruby” subdirectory for other subdirs named “doc” and then