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Old 08-08-2006, 02:15 AM   #1
zani
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Registered: Jan 2006
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Booting from USB when BIOS does not recognise USB devices


Howdy all

I've installed/used a few variations of linux (installed Ubuntu and Gentoo, and used Knoppix to repartition HD), so I've got most of the basics there.

I recently purchased a large USB HD (250GB... yay!). It'd be great to be able to install linux on that, because once I've setup GRUB in a primary partition on the HD, I should be able to install as many linux variations as I want in the logical partitions and usse GRUB to reach them.

The first problem I encountered was partitioning the HD (within windows, the only option was NTFS... not even FAT32). I solved that with a boot to knoppix and a little QTParted.

The real problem is that the BIOS doesn't allow booting from a USB device. I tried updating the BIOS, and it added the option of a network boot, but no USB boot.

I was wondering if there was a way to get the USB drive recognised for booting from. I figured it might be possible to boot into knoppix or some other OS/boot loader, have that recognise the USB drive, then boot from there into the USB drive's boot loader/linux.

Any suggestions?
 
Old 08-08-2006, 09:42 PM   #2
sabit
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Unfortunately, you may not be able to do that. Once you boot into Knoppix, you cannot `boot back' to another OS.

Do you have a FAT32 partition on your primary hard drive? If you have one, then you could install FreeDos into it and add an entry in BOOT.INI (assuming you are using Win2k/XP) then run LOADLIN (w/ kernel and initial ramdisk image) to boot.

If you don't have a FAT32 partition then you might try GRUB for NT (http://marc.herbert.free.fr/linux/wi...ml#grub-for-nt) which would be easier to setup.
 
Old 08-09-2006, 03:29 AM   #3
aikempshall
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You don't state what your machine is or how old it is. On my IBM Thinkpad T30, at least 3 years old, an external USB drive is regarded as an internal standard hard drive so to boot I have to navigate to the part of the BIOS startup that indicates which hard drive to boot from first.

Th above confused me initially as i was looking to boot from a removable device.
 
Old 08-10-2006, 07:01 AM   #4
mickyg
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What about configuring GRUB to chainload the USB HD??

Have GRUB as your bootloader on your PC. Plug in the USB HD and boot the PC, when you get the GRUB menu hit ESC to enter the console mode. From there you should be able to add/edit an entry and query which devices GRUB can use to boot from.

I.e. you'd have an entry that looked something like this:

rootnoverfiy (hd1,0) (where hd1 is the USB HD, if you have multiple HD's then this will obviously be different)
makeactive
chainloader+1
boot

Details about this are here.

For that to work obviously the USB HD would need it's own bootloader, otherwise if you're just installing Linux into partitions on the USB HD you should just be able to edit an existing Linux entry and replace 'root (hd0,x)' with 'root (hd1,x)' for example.

If that all works then you can just add it as a permanent entry in your GRUB menu.

This approach worked for me when trying to boot DSL from a USB Pendrive.
 
Old 08-10-2006, 06:57 PM   #5
chrisortiz
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create a bootable floppy disk with usb support, when you get all the bugs out of it, go to a linux prompt and type
Code:
dd if=/dev/fd0 bs=512 of=/root/image.img
then burn that image to a cd, set your bios to boot from cd, and wala!
 
Old 08-10-2006, 07:26 PM   #6
zani
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Quote:
You don't state what your machine is or how old it is.
Quite right. I bought this acer Aspire 3002LC mid last year (so its about a year old). Its running on 256mb ram (of which 64 is shared with the graphics card) and a 40GB HD. I've managed to install and run a variety of linux variations (Ubuntu mostly, installed Gentoo but haven't got it working fully (I left out 'X' in the install methinks, so no GUI)). The main thing is wanting more space for more installs, because I'm greedy like that

Quote:
Unfortunately, you may not be able to do that. Once you boot into Knoppix, you cannot `boot back' to another OS.

Do you have a FAT32 partition on your primary hard drive? If you have one, then you could install FreeDos into it and add an entry in BOOT.INI (assuming you are using Win2k/XP) then run LOADLIN (w/ kernel and initial ramdisk image) to boot.
I'm using windowsXP on a 17GB FAT32 partition (which I can resize using GParted just fine) and I also have a small 5GB FAT32 that is for data. I need the Windows Partition to stay fairly unaltered (so that's about half the drive gone), but I'm happy to bugger the rest into oblivion to get this working the way I want.

I like the loadlin suggestion very much, and will look into it at the next opportunity.

Quote:
What about configuring GRUB to chainload the USB HD??
I thought of that, but assumed that because the USB HD is not recognised in the BIOS bootup stage, it's likely that it wouldn't be recognised by GRUB (that may well have been a bad assumption).

Quote:
For that to work obviously the USB HD would need it's own bootloader, otherwise if you're just installing Linux into partitions on the USB HD you should just be able to edit an existing Linux entry and replace 'root (hd0,x)' with 'root (hd1,x)' for example.
Ok. I'm happy to setup the USB HD as needed, so thanks for the heads up on that (I'll throw a bootloader in as a primary partition at the end of the USB drive). Of course, this assumes GRUB recognises the USB HD...

Quote:
then burn that image to a cd, set your bios to boot from cd, and wala!
Another good suggestion, but one I'd rather avoid. Given I'll be using this to boot my computer, I'd rather not be reliant on a CD to boot.



So I'm assuming that I'll go with the GRUB booting from the USB option. I don't have much experience with GRUB, so I'm wondering how I'll handle figuring out where the USB HD is (ie hd1/sd1/whatever). I'll probably try just assigning a chainloader bootup to hd1 on whatever partition I set the boot loader to be.

I'll play with it for a little while and see where things go. I'll post back the results later.

Thank you every one of you who took the time to reply. I believe each of your responses will help me understand and solve this problem quicker and better.
 
Old 08-13-2006, 07:13 PM   #7
zani
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Okay. I've played with the drive a little and come up with some interesting results. On reflection, I realised I've written a lot here, so feel free to skim/skip most of it... There isn't a question here, its just more of a log of what's going on... I'll post a question later if I can't get it working...

First, I acquired a USB hub over the weekend (plug it into a USB slot, then up to four USB devices can be plugged into the hub). The thing is, it is only compatible with earlier versions of USB (i.e. not USB 2.0). What makes this so interesting is that I was trying to install windows on the drive, and I found that the windows installer could not see the drive if it was connected directly, but it could see it if it was connected through the hub...

I also played with the Ubuntu live/install and have had mixed success. First, it does recognise the drive (both through the hub and not... I must not have had it plugged in properly the first time I tried). However, there are some interesting problems.

First, the maximum screen resolution for my laptop is 1024x768. This is fine for most things, but when you are looking at 10+ partitions in the Ubuntu installer, it does not shrink the space they take up, nor allow scrolling. The upshot of this is if I have too many partitions, the list goes off the top/bottom of the screen, and I cannot see them all (however, I can work around it, because I don't need all those partitions... yet...).

Second, I went through the setup part of the installation no problems, but had problems in the actual installing of Ubuntu. The first time I tried setting the boot partition for the installation to both the USB's boot partition and the HD's boot partition. It would allow that, so I decided for safety to install it using the HD's boot partition and figure the rest out later.

Following that, I'd set it to format the partition it was set to use for root before installing, and it didn't like the partition (I believe it said "Error formatting partition" or something to that effect). I figured since I'd just formatted the partition using the Gnome partitoning tool, I could just install straight onto it instead, but it didn't like that either... It quit after trying to install some files stating there was an error in the installation.

It occurs to me now that the drives were visible on the desktop, which may mean they were mounted through this procedure (and somehow GParted didn't notice/care)... With that being the case, I've now "Ejected" the drives from the desktop and am trying another installation on the drive (once again using a 20GB USB partition under ext3 for root, a 512MB HD partiton for swap, and a 100MB HD partition for boot).

I've set the USB drive up with a smaller number of larger partitions (and left about half of it unpartitioned) so I shouldn't run into problems installing it.

Interestingly, I decided to remove one partition before installing, and after GParted removed the partition and was scanning the USB, it decided to open all the USB partitions in the Nautilus file browser. I've "Ejected" it again and am now trying a new install of Ubuntu on the drive.

I'd just like to point out two other things that I found interesting. First, when installing windows, if you select free space for the install, it will try to use all of the available space for the install as opposed to letting you choose how much of the space to use. Second, when you try and install windows, even if it decides it doesn't like you, it'll still bugger up your boot sequence so you can't get into other OSes anymore... That's not too friendly-like Still I've had that problem before, so I'll just use the Ubuntu installer to update the MBR and GRUB so we're all set

I'll post back with more details after I've played with it some more.
 
Old 09-04-2006, 07:40 PM   #8
zani
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Okay. I've learnt a lot of stuff very quickly, but it took me a long time to find it. Since I've been doing this in my spare time, I hadn't really looked in much detail as some of the documentation available, and I have no idea how I stumbled onto this, but I'll post it here for anyone interested. The Ubuntu community has this nifty piece hosted which gives a lot of information on different techniques to boot from a USB drive (one of which is using a CD-ROM as mentioned by chrisortiz). Anybody looking to boot from USB will almost certainly find this information useful. On that note, the installation guide in general is a great resource. Hopefully this'll help someone else solve the problem, and for me, I'm fairly happy with this discovery.
 
Old 08-21-2007, 01:58 PM   #9
wnem
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im new to linux

can you explain little more simple what i have to do to boot off from USB storage? my bios doesnt support usb boot either. so what step i have to take for booting from USB in these case. like which file i have to edit... im getting the idea how to do though!!
 
  


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