Using a general-purpose Linux filesystem with permissions kind of defeats the point of a removable USB drive IMO.
Interesting... Back when I first got a USB thumb drive, I readily went on and formatted it as ext3, and sure enough, even though I almost exclussively use Linux, the problem is then that not always and not on all systems do user ID numbers match, so if I made the drive owned by "the primary" user on my distribution of choice, which sets the UID for the first user created as 500, and then moved to another computer where I had also an account (with a different UID), then I couldn't write to the drive, or (some times) even access my data. Since then I thought time and time again on how could this be improved, and some of the solutions I came up with though feasible are not precisely secure (not that an NTFS or FAT formatted thumbdrive is any more secure, though):
First, change the perms on the unit to ugo+rwx, so at least every single account on the array of Linux systems can access and write to it.
Second, change the default umask so that new files have the o+rw octect allowed (000)
This is only a workaround, as better integration would be much better, and instead of making these changes to the filesystem as such, have some sort of USB meta-mode for mkfs (to set the necessary perms on the filesystem, except for "lost+found") and for the distributions to be able to recognize volumes mounted on the USB-interface and mount them with a "permissive" umask... I've never been able to fully implement these and as such currently I end up using the default FAT as the format, but it sure would be much better to use superior filesystems than FAT (at the cost of "Windows portability", though)
I've been running Ubuntu for about 8 months a cheap 8GB Transcend USB stick. EXT4 all the way, with journalling. Just four tweaks: no swapfile, /tmp is tmpfs, disk elevator is none and no browser disk cache.
This stick is very slow in random writes but pretty fast in random reads. I wouldn't say no to a better stick (Cruizer, SanDisk or Voyager GT), but the Transcend one works too for my day to day needs (programming, movies and a games like Diablo 2, Starcraft or World of Goo.)
No "wear and tear" to speak of (my data is backed up online so I'm not worried) and the stick is absolutely silent! Boots up quickly, too.
I want to learn how to put ubuntu on a flash drive formatted ext4. Can you cite some links where I could read a tutorial or any?