The Xubuntu install went well. I chose to install 'alongside' my Windows install.
My motherboard made it a bit convoluted to boot to USB. It allows the user to choose one optical drive, one USB device, and one hard drive to boot from, but it includes USB sticks in with hard drives. I'll have to tinker with the BIOS settings every time I want to switch between Windows and Linux.
(I also needed to plug in a wired keyboard to access the BIOS.)
(If I make a habit of this I'll want to get a 16-32gig SD card. That would be classified as a USB device by my motherboard.)
I see what you meant when you talked about USB drives being slow. I would have expected them to act like a SSD, but apparently they lack the controllers of the latter. I'm guessing that a SD card might be even slower.
Now I need to install Wine (so I can run Windows programs). I see on the web that there are several different ways to do that and as many different opinions as to what's best. What are your thoughts? Please keep it simple for our more easily intimidated readers.