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Old 10-28-2009, 06:56 AM   #1
miguelg
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Booting from external HDD without BIOS support


Hey there,

I'm looking for a solution to boot into Linux installed in an external HDD on a computer that has no BIOS support for USB booting. As it is I can only boot into whatever OS is installed in the master disk.

In particular, I'm hoping there is a program that can be installed in the master partition alongside Windows (sadly in my case) which allows for dual boot. This program would effectively allow for booting into Linux installed on an external drive. I looked into GRUB but I couldn't find a Windows version available.

Would really love to hear your thoughts on ways around this.




PS: I've looked into Wubi but the file block system on a drive connected via USB doesn't sound good to me. Also searching for similar threads on the forum didn't yield much information.

Last edited by miguelg; 10-28-2009 at 06:58 AM. Reason: corrected spelling
 
Old 10-28-2009, 07:12 AM   #2
Lordandmaker
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You can install GRUB from a LiveCD, presuming this PC will boot from that?

There was a Grub installer for Windows on the net, but I think it was a GeoCities page. A LiveCD is likely to be simpler, in any case.
 
Old 10-28-2009, 07:13 AM   #3
JohnGraham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by belnac View Post
I looked into GRUB but I couldn't find a Windows version available.
What do you mean? GRUB doesn't have a Windows version in exactly the same way it doesn't have a Linux version - it's an independent program.

You can, however, use GRUB to boot windows via chainloading. For example, if my Windows XP partition is /dev/hda4 on the first HDD, the entry in grub's menu.lst might look like:

Code:
title         Windows XP
root          (hd0,0)
makeactive
chainloader   +1
Read-up on GRUB before you try and use it - google is your friend etc.

John G
 
Old 10-28-2009, 07:34 AM   #4
thorkelljarl
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Do you have a floppy...

You system is probably old enough to have a floppy drive that you don't use for anything any more, but from which the system will boot. It should also boot from the CD/DVD drive.

You can have GRUB on the floppy or a CD and GRUB will then chain load an operative system.

These were the first of many Google results.

http://www.justlinux.com/forum/showthread.php?t=142409

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...-drive-545953/

Last edited by thorkelljarl; 10-28-2009 at 07:41 AM.
 
Old 10-28-2009, 07:38 AM   #5
miguelg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorkelljarl View Post
Do you have a floppy...

You system is probably old enough to have a floppy drive that you don't use for anything any more, but from which the system will boot.

You can have GRUB on the floppy and GRUB will then chain load an operative system.

This was the first of many Google results.

http://www.justlinux.com/forum/showthread.php?t=142409
Unfortunately not. The computer in question is actually a laptop so I can only boot from the physical HD. Another option is to burn a CD/DVD with GRUB properly configured to handle the multi boot setup, though ideally I'd rather GRUB resided in the HD.

I'll look into GRUB for the time being and see if there is any chance I can make it work.

Thanks everybody for your input so far. Much appreciated.
 
Old 10-28-2009, 07:49 AM   #6
thorkelljarl
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The second reference...

That second reference I gave you seem to indicate that you could put Grub on a CD, boot from the CD drive and get it to work. If it works, you wouldn't even loose the use of the CD drive. You can remove the boot CD after the OS is up and running.
 
Old 10-28-2009, 07:57 AM   #7
miguelg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorkelljarl View Post
The second reference...

That second reference I gave you seem to indicate that you could put Grub on a CD, boot from the CD drive and get it to work. If it works, you wouldn't even loose the use of the CD drive. You can remove the boot CD after the OS is up and running.
Yep, I've just read it now but it seems I'd have to do a few operations on *nix first such as create a bootable version of GRUB in a (virtual?) floppy disk and then burn that on a CD/DVD.

This is like the chicken/egg problem since I can't boot into a *nix OS yet. The only solution I see is to download yet another version of Linux, this time a live distro, burn that on a DVD and /then/ see if I can make it work.

By the way, what if I were to partition my master partition - where Windows is installed - and, say, allocate 5GB of the total ~40GB size for Linux? Would that work and save me all the hassle above?
 
Old 10-28-2009, 09:47 AM   #8
Larry Webb
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You can install a distro in 5 gig and put its home partition on usb. You can also do a minumum install and make your external hd a storage with fat 32 or ntfs for a mountable partition shared by windows and linux. The main problem you run into using fat 32 is the file size is limited to 2 gig. The main hangup is with ntfs is any partition repairs or edits will have to be done with windows where fat either will do the job.

As far as I know grub alone will not boot anything that bios can not see.


Larry

Last edited by Larry Webb; 10-28-2009 at 09:53 AM.
 
Old 10-28-2009, 09:50 AM   #9
miguelg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Webb View Post
You can install a distro in 5 gig and put its home partition on usb. You can also do a minumum install and make your external hd a storage with ntfs for a mountable partition shared by windows and linux. As far as I know grub alone will not boot anything that bios can not see.
Many thanks for that Larry. I think I will be going with the first option so that I can keep the OS in one location and use the external drive for storage in Linux' native filesystem.
 
Old 10-28-2009, 03:21 PM   #10
Larry Webb
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You might consider making your home partition on the external so that any temp files downloaded eventually will not fill your linux partition. If you are going to use one of the larger distros with the candy 5 gig will be marginal. If this is a laptop then you are right to put the entire distro on the hd. Steal a little more room for your linux partition if that is an option.


Larry
 
Old 10-28-2009, 04:07 PM   #11
linus72
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Did anyone mention the awesome Plop Bootmanager?

I use it to boot my usb(s) and my usb-cdrom on two computers
a Toshiba 7000CT (old) lappy and a old emachines PC.

Neither will boot from USB, but Plop can get around that

So, Plop can be used to simply boot the USB (plpbt.bin)
or it can be installed to MBR (plpbtin.bin) and act kinda like Grub

http://www.plop.at/en/bootmanager.html

so, are you saying the computer in question has Windows already?
as Plop works(can work) from the Windows menu too.

If the computer has no OS installed, and only one USB port
like my lappy..., but does have a floppy or cd drive

then, you need to use the plop floppy or cd to initially boot the external HD

I simply put plpbt.bin on my HD and boot it from the Grub menu, then boot the USB from the
plop menu.

heres my grub menu.lst entry for Plop

Code:
title Plop
root (hd0,7)
kernel /boot/plpbt.bin
note that any Linux OS you install will overwrite Plop (plpbtin.bin) if you installed Plop to MBR, meaning grub/lilo will remove plop when they install.

theres alot of docs at the sight too.

EDIT: in order to install a Linux OS, any, to my lappy, which had no OS at all and cant boot from USB

I used Plop bootfloppy to boot My USB, which had the Slack 12.2 mini iso on it
i booted into slack command line, started the install, then at
"mount cdrom", I quickly disconnected USB, connected usb-cdrom with slack cd-1 in it, then pressed enter for it to find cdrom
it did!

I tried using the usb images,etc
none worked
so finally tricked the lappy by replacing usb with usb-cdrom
to enable install.

Once you have any OS on there, installing any other os becomes possible.

Last edited by linus72; 10-28-2009 at 04:11 PM.
 
Old 10-28-2009, 05:04 PM   #12
jefro
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Many of the distro's offer a floppy or a way to make a floppy that can support booting in case bios doesn't support modern devices.

See also pxe and more importantly gpxe solutions.

Might try netboot.me for a neat gpxe boot to tinycore.

Check out wubi and how to install it to an external drive either as a virtual file or a partition.

See also pendrivelinux for how to's on many distro's and ways to get past bios problems.

I still use qemu too to run virtual machines.

Last edited by jefro; 10-28-2009 at 05:16 PM.
 
  


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