I was thinking of installing Ubuntu on a couple of VMs. Would it be better to store each VM on a 8GB thumbdrive or store all the VMs on a 320GB USB-powered external HDD?
Which one would be faster?
In terms of speed, the flash drives would be faster as you don't have that millisecond delay. Its solid state vs platters. However, your solid state drive is going to be limited in writes so it will be prone to failure where as the platters should have a much longer life cycle.
For running Ubuntu/Linux off of a external hard drive connected via USB then it's actually quite simple to do. Here are the steps, or rather, the steps I took.
Please Note: The following steps were tested using Ubuntu Version 9.10, but has not been tested with the later versions. Use at your own risk & discretion.
What You Will Need
What To Do