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Linux On External Hdd


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#1 ussr1943

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Posted 26 January 2008 - 10:46 PM

So Lately I'm having a little more free time and I would love to play around with linux, I've tried out a few Live distros ( 8 different ones to be exact) and I would love to make the jump to installing Linux. However I do not want to play around with my internal HDD so I plan on getting an External since they've come down in prices. In short I want to install a distro on an External Hard Drive, what should I know? Is there any good information on setting this up? Is it really any different from installing to an internal HDD?

Thanks for your help in advance.
"Ideas are far more powerful than guns."
"The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards -- and even then I have my doubts." --Eugene H. Spafford
"One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter"

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#2 no one

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 09:59 PM

Hay there ussr1943
Sorry ,I've never done it but from what little I've read it shouldn't be a lot different . when you pick the distro you want to install , boot with it and start the install and when it ask where to put it , choose the external hdd and go from there , I've read that you want the Boot loader on the external Hdd not internal , as I've read about people having the MBR over written by Grub , which seems to cause a few problems most people never want to have. After picking your choice of distros you might want to search their forums for any "specifics" and or tips and how to's . As I've mentioned , I've never done it before. BUT first of all you need to make sure your bios will let you boot from usb. :thumbsup:

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#3 ussr1943

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 02:05 PM

Any good tutorials so I don't have to deal with my MBR being over written?
thanks.
"Ideas are far more powerful than guns."
"The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards -- and even then I have my doubts." --Eugene H. Spafford
"One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter"

#4 Andrew

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 05:15 PM

I had Ubuntu 7.10 installed on my external USB drive for several weeks before "committing" and installing on an internal drive. Installing on the USB drive was a cinch. Just ran the installer, pointed it at the USB drive and it did the rest. It placed GRUB on my boot partition, overwriting my Windows MBR, but GRUB allowed me to boot into Windows too by calling the NTLDR (Windows Bootloader) without any configuration or anything by me.

Something to note, however, is that GRUB will fail if you boot without the drive connected. Should you wish to remove GRUB and return to the Windows MBR, run the Recovery Console and issue the fixmbr command.

Also, if your computer only has USB1.1 ports, go get yourself a USB2.0 PCI card and use that. Otherwise anything installed on the external drive (programs, Linux itself) will stall while waiting for data to trickle in across an altogether too slow bus.

Edited by Amazing Andrew, 31 January 2008 - 05:20 PM.


#5 ussr1943

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 12:47 PM

I've decided on ubuntu, and there is alot of great help on their forums. However Before I install I'm not sure which boot method to use, when I bring up my bios settings I have many choices all ranging from floppy to cd to internal to esb. Well I want to use USB. However there are multiple choices, and unfortunately I don't understand what's what.
Here are the choices:
USB-FDD
USB-ZIP
USB-CDROM

Which one should I use?
Thanks for your replies.
-Ussr1943-
"Ideas are far more powerful than guns."
"The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards -- and even then I have my doubts." --Eugene H. Spafford
"One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter"

#6 Andrew

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 07:22 PM

Those appear to represent, respectively, a floppy drive, a ZIP drive, and a CD-ROM drive, each connected via USB. Do you have any such drives connected via USB?

#7 ussr1943

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 09:53 PM

no I don't. Is there any way , any of these will be able to be used to boot off of my USB HDD?
"Ideas are far more powerful than guns."
"The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards -- and even then I have my doubts." --Eugene H. Spafford
"One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter"

#8 Andrew

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 05:27 AM

Speaking purely from my experience with my hardware, you shouldn't need to do anything special. Boot from the Ubuntu CD with your USB drive hooked up too. Run the installer and point it at the USB drive (be careful and make sure that it's the USB drive! Linux names their drives much differently from Windows. On mine, it was /dev/sdg)

Once Ubuntu is installed on the drive, it'll install GRUB on your boot partition (wherever it is) which will show up when you boot and give you the choice of which OS to start, Ubuntu or Windows.

#9 Miljet

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 04:36 PM

I think that what AmazingAndrew is trying to tell you is that once ubunti is installed it is not going to boot from your external drive. It is going to boot from the GRUB bootloader which will be installed on your main hard drive. And it WILL overwrite your MBR. It is not that big of a deal and the MBR can be restored if you decide to remove Linux later.

#10 ussr1943

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 06:20 PM

I actually removed my IDE cable to prevent anything to write over my internal HDD, and my External has been formatted and has ubuntu installed on it(Keeps telling me to insert boot disk). However I'm not able to boot from it no matter what USB option I seem to use, could this be because i need to have GRUB ontop of my MBR? Right now I'm trying to be as careful as possible as to not overwrite my internal HDD.

Edited by ussr1943, 04 February 2008 - 06:22 PM.

"Ideas are far more powerful than guns."
"The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards -- and even then I have my doubts." --Eugene H. Spafford
"One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter"

#11 Andrew

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 08:41 PM

could this be because i need to have GRUB ontop of my MBR?


I believe so.

#12 groovicus

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 09:59 PM

However I'm not able to boot from it no matter what USB option I seem to use, could this be because i need to have GRUB ontop of my MBR?


Right. You can't just select the external drive boot from there like you would a cd-rom. The grub loader is not just a configuration file that is read, it is an application that prepares the environment and loads the kernel into memory. If you try to just run Linux from the external drive, it doesn't know what to do.

#13 ussr1943

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Posted 04 February 2008 - 10:06 PM

Thanks again for all of your inputs.
How might I go about getting the GRUB bootloader on without having to deal with reinstalling and the possibility of overwritting my internal HDD? (I've heard of creating a GRUB boot disk and using that, however all I've been able to find is creating one from inside linux, of course that is not possible for me at this point.)

Thanks
-Ussr1943-
"Ideas are far more powerful than guns."
"The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards -- and even then I have my doubts." --Eugene H. Spafford
"One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter"

#14 groovicus

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 11:21 AM

You can manually install grub from a live linux cd. I have never had any luck doing it, so I can't be of any help at all. The other option is to simply reinstall Linux, and pay attention to where you are installing it. The grub loader will be put in the proper place automatically. Do you have access to another machine that you could practice on?

#15 ussr1943

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Posted 05 February 2008 - 10:18 PM

This is getting frustrating and looks like my only way out is to install over my MBR, which I don't really want to do since I don't have an XP recovery disk so i cant fixmbr if i want to in the future. Could it be that i need to create a seperate partition of grub?

Thanks for bearing with me

Edited by ussr1943, 05 February 2008 - 11:51 PM.

"Ideas are far more powerful than guns."
"The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards -- and even then I have my doubts." --Eugene H. Spafford
"One man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter"




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