I use Fedora on a thumb drive and run it on a very weak machine. The main hard drive is only 8 gig and I can not upgrade it.
My thought process you may appreciate is working with portable programs. You can get a pack of smaller size thumb drives and build you up a few operating systems and a few thumb drives with portable programs and docs.
You can recover your operating system easy by just doing an install. With the programs on a separate thumb drive with the specific documents and programs you can carry just what you need. Have back ups and carry less sensitive programs and docs with a bare bone set of programs.
If your borrowing PC you might want to also carry some more support gear. Like a Wi-Fi dongle, which you know you will work with your OS.
Hear is a link to some of my gear I carry daily.
If your using random computers then having a wi-fi dongle that works with your OS makes what ever your doing faster if you jump on an old PC and the Wi-Fi just does not work with your OS or there is no wifi network card. Plug in your dongle and your good to go with your tried and tested with your OS wi-fi dongle.
I carry a wi-fi dongle and the windows driver for the dongle. I was asked to update an old industrial touch screen running I think windows CE, with no internet access a few months ago.
The plan for the job was to uninstall the panel and bring it to a shop with internet access, build a suicide cord to power it up, find a keyboard and mouse to access the Windows key to access the launcher. Update the software and and back it up. Reinstall and hope it works.
I used the wi-fi dongle installed the drivers used a wireless keyboard in my tool kit, connected to my phones hotspot and not having to uninstall and install the touch screen saved hours of time.
If you use your phone as much as I do, check out scrcpy. It has been a big part of my work flow. Often I can use scrcpy (cross platform and portable) and my Pixel 6 Pro for a desktop experience with out having to boot up a different OS.
I have been doing this for a long time. You will laugh, I tried Fedora cinnamon on 16 GB USB 2.0 which was a bit slow but still usable, then I also tried Fedora LXQt on same USB drive which was working better than cinnamon. Now I have USB 3.2 Gen 1, 64GB (still using on USB 3.0 port) and I am using Fedora KDE and it works smooth. I am not able to answer you with knowledge I have, how much it is secure, I will leave that question to other experts on forum. If you want to have a proper guide how to install it, here’s what i had used and it is to the point and very helpful. He also had uploaded fedora installation video recently on channel.
I hope my reply will be helpful to you. Feel free to ask anything about it because I have had lots of tests before settling down to fedora KDE.
Bloated or not, its a kind of relative question I guess. Some may find cinnamon really bloated one, some may find it useful out of box. Personally I always remove some of software before settle down with specific DE or distro. You can first install it as live usb and test it, try to remove things you don’t want on your system and see if it breaks anything, document everything and then make those changes in final install. That’s what I do every time.
I don’t think you will have a good time using this product, or any USB flash drive. You are less limited by the bandwidth of the USB port, and much more limited by the cheap quality flash chips used in those drives, and the lack of a dedicated storage controller making reads/writes more efficient. You would be much better off with a USB solid state drive, like one of these:
These are my notes from a NucBox 7 PC, which comes with a 512GB SATA M.2 2242 PCIe hard drive upgrade-able to 1 TB. I know I can find a faster 1 TB drive, with capacity and speed combined for me it might be worth the upgrade.
The 512 GB drive could be used in this case which is the smallest case I can find for a 2242. 79.4 mm x 25.6 mm x 9.8 mm. Re-purposing the old drive is another benefit as it could replace my 128 GB thumb drive functionally (Ventoy installer and Live OS drive) and then I could use the 128 GB in place of the little 16 GB thumb drive I am now using in the NucBox.