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I have a general question about the new USB 2.0 hard drives that I've seen at some stores lately. Are they bootable? And if so can I use it to boot Linux off of? I'm curious because I am going off to a college where they provide laptops to the students, and I would like to keep my Linux tinkerings off the hdd of the laptop as much as possible...but if I can't boot from a USB hard drive I will be forced to install Linux on the hard drive of the laptop, which wouldn't be a huge deal, but I want be as safe as possible so I don't lose all my important stuff for classes and whatnot.
Unless the laptop's BIOS supports booting from USB2 devices (which is highly unlikely), then you won't be able to boot directly from the USB2 harddisk.
If the laptops have floppy drives builtin, then you could easily create your own boot-floppy that loads all the relavent USB modules/drivers and then chroots to the USB harddrive. If they don't have floppy drives...then you can do it with a bootable CD. Either way, I don't think it'd be impossible to get a Linux distro to run from a USB harddisk, just maybe not boot from one.
I didn't think that it would be directly bootable, the boot disk idea might work, but is ther e a way to make a partition, I think I remember seeing something in Red Hat's installer where you can mount a partition /boot. Could I create a /boot partition to start up the kernel and low level USB 2.0 drivers and had the root partition on the USB 2.0 drive with the beef of whatever distro I decide to install on it? Would that work?
Err, I don't think so. The partition /boot would normally only contain the kernel image and the lilo files (except lilo.conf, which resides in /etc), and all the programs (like chroot, for example) would reside in /bin (or /sbin). You could, I suppose, make a very small partition that contained essentially the same stuff as you'd find on a boot-disk (like [url=http://www.toms.net/rb/]tomsrb[/url), but that would be a lot of hassle. I genuinely think that making a bootable floppy or CD would be better, since that way you're not playing around with the laptop's harddrive itself...by the way, is this college giving you the laptop or are they letting you use one of their laptops? I ask only because if you start tinkering with the laptop's harddisk when it doesn't actually belong to you, your college may get a little shirt.
They (Northern Michigan University) have a deal with IBM, who suppiles all the students with their own Thinkpads. I am paying $360 a semester, and then I have the option of buying it at the end of 2 years for $500... So they're ours, as far as I can tell anyway. I'm thinking that the boot disk is by far the best idea though... I wasn't sure what I was able to do since I'm still pretty new at all of this. Thanks for all your help!