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I'm running Ubuntu 12.10 on a HP laptop (EliteBook 8440p, intel i5-mobile processor with integrated graphics). The system is installed on an external HDD connected via USB 2.0 and I'm booting from there.

I'm experiencing 2 problem (mybe correlated, maybe not) 1) the startup is super slow. It takes about 12 minutes. it seems that there is disk activity for the first 20 seconds and then the system seems to fall into some kind of wait mode. no activities for the next ~10 minutes. Then, magically, the disk gets active again and the boot process is completing. afterwards the system runs ok, except from problem 2. 2) when I try to start the system settings tool, nothing happens. in the past, I thought I saw an error message in the syslog (crash in some graphics related lib), but I took the latest update yesterday and now I don't even see this anymore.

help or suggestions much appreciated!

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I would suggest not booting from USB especially 2.0. While I am not certain, I am suspicious that it is the root of all your problems. USB 2.0 is rather slow to be running a system off of. You might try a lighter weight system like Mint or Xubuntu. –  Rostro Feb 11 '13 at 4:38
    
I don't think that's the root cause. I had ubuntu 9.04 installed on an USB stick before. using the same labtop and connecting the stick to the same USB port, the system was up in less than a minute (and I'm sure the stick is slower than the disk). –  oliver Feb 11 '13 at 4:48
    
9.04 was much lighter than 12.10 unfortunately. –  Rostro Feb 11 '13 at 14:09
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