The unetboot takes the 1.8gb 4.2 kde/gnome DVD iso and more or less clones it to a 2gb usb stick hard drive mobile phone memory card so the only reasons to have more space is to create /home folder or similar to reuse it as a portable usb with working configs for frequently used pc's or similar.
Separate umpc not that has been mentioned. Few hands and too much work = not likely.
The umpc version usually installs into 5.7gb space , then needs a bit for work space so 8gb or ideally 12gb should be enough space for normal usage umpc and keep the rubish bin / temp files under control.
If you are going to go for a installed to say $25 16gb usb stick (maybe 18MB/s) remember that the usb is much slower than a normal laptop hard drive that is already fairly slow unless SDD hard drive and if using on another pc the config / settings might conflict / cause problems or could just work fine if similar video cards.
Then unetboot 2gb 4.2g or 2gb 4.2k and some space for music / doc's or "/home" is a better ways as it will config to each pc during boot = 90%+ chance of perfect working usb SL 4.2 device or might need a bit of a kick start for some video cards sometimes.
USB 2.0 connection max out at close to 30MB/s, laptop 2.5" 5400rpm runs at close to 40MB/s for a old drive and gets slowed down by usb2.0 connection.
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hdparm -tT /dev/sda
If you have esata connection or pcmcia express esata card that plugs into the pcmcia express card slot on the side of the laptop then this is the best as the external drive connected to this will perform at it's max rated speeds that the drive can do.
This is a more practical option that I used to use for both desktop via esata or laptop / ssd drive via esata.
This way you can either reuse a old sata hard drive and have full speed linux on your laptop.Prices:
Laptop 2.5" 120gb 5400rpm $49.99http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6822136373
The wd's like this runs at about 45MB/s = pretty decent for a laptop drive.
esata & usb 2.5" enclosure for laptop sata II hard drive $18.99http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817159076
Pcmcia Card and enclosure combo $26.99http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... esata+card
esata ExpressCard $15http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... rder=PRICE
Just add a $3 to $5 Esata cable.
SSD 2.5" drives 32GB $84 and runs at
# Sequential Access - Read: 154.1 MB/s
# Sequential Access - Write: 90.8 MB/s
This is very very nice speeds, faster than most desktop hard drives I have seen , even faster than 2 raid0 desktop hard drives i have, I love my OCZ 32gb SSD in my laptop / desktop or via esata .
Hope this helps to get you the best working solution for what you would like to do.