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Old 02-14-2006, 02:54 PM   #1
michaelkc
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dual booting with external hardrive


Hey forum
i have installed linux onto an external USB hardrive and i
am trying to use the GRUB bootloader. I currently have windows XP
installed on an internal harddrive. But my labtop BIOS doesn't
support USB booting, and i really dont want to use a crappy boot CD.

Can i use the windows BOOT.INI file to select which OS i want to boot into?
if not what are my options at this stage?

MIchael CAmpion
 
Old 02-14-2006, 04:28 PM   #2
Mara
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You can use Windows boot.ini. It's shown here: http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Linux+NT-Loader.html
 
Old 02-14-2006, 05:15 PM   #3
oneandoneis2
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I don't think Grub supports USB hard drive booting...
 
Old 02-16-2006, 12:59 PM   #4
michaelkc
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hey thanks for the reply
I gave it a try but when i select the linux option it just
prints up GRUB regardless of whether the external hardrive is plugged
in or not.

is it because at the point during boot up where you
get the option of selecting the operating system, does the computer
really have any knowledge of an EXTERNAL USB HARD DRIVE? WHich i think is
pretty important?

I dont see where in the help that your directing the computer to an external usb
connected hardrive?

ANy thoughts?

CHeers
Michael
 
Old 11-29-2006, 09:00 AM   #5
joselgarciac
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelkc
Hey forum
i have installed linux onto an external USB hardrive and i
am trying to use the GRUB bootloader. I currently have windows XP
installed on an internal harddrive. But my labtop BIOS doesn't
support USB booting, and i really dont want to use a crappy boot CD.

Can i use the windows BOOT.INI file to select which OS i want to boot into?
if not what are my options at this stage?

MIchael CAmpion
Since you have installed linux on an external hardrive, can you tell me how you did it? did you have to partition it or something? or is there a drive that i need to install in my hardrive?
 
Old 12-01-2006, 08:34 AM   #6
coqauvin
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The surest way to try Linux would be on an external HD, but a fully operational tutorial to do just that seems to be hard to find - unless someone here has a link to one, maybe.

I also have tried to boot an installed distro (Sabayon, Suse, Ubuntu, Kubuntu) on an external USB drive. Even with my Bios set to "USB HD" as the first drive, Grub does not see it, which seems weird since all the above distros boot fine from their "Live CD or DVD" while allowing installation to the USB HD.

So there is the wall stopping me and Michaelkc from running Linux.

Does anyone have a Linux booting from an external hard drive?

P.S I will not put Linux on my Windows internal drive, it would give Windows an other excuse to crash.
 
Old 12-01-2006, 02:38 PM   #7
saikee
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Yes. Try Puppy.
 
Old 12-02-2006, 04:57 AM   #8
coqauvin
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Thank you Monsieur Saikee for a great response to our problem!

"Hope" has come back to install Linux on an external hard disk. Great!


I would be honored to help you in return for problems concerning Windows, please PM me any time. I will try my best.
 
Old 12-02-2006, 05:52 AM   #9
saikee
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I am sure there are many posts publishing the work around the problem of booting off an external hard disk via a USB port but the standard distros are unsuitable without some tweaks.

I stand to be corrected but the standard boot loaders like Lilo and Grub are simple programs that seem to have a problem of recognising the USB devices. When a user installs a Linux onto an external disk he/she does so with the help or benefit of a kerenl. At boot up a boot loader has "NO" access to the kerenel. In fact it is its job to boot one up! If we use Linux and find the external hard disk it is because the kernel finds it for us.

I have not been able to run a Grub command "geometry hdx", where x =1, 2, 3 etc, to show up an external USB hard yet in a Grub prompt (before a kernel is loaded). Thus there may be a technical problem for Grub if it can't see itself when booted from an external hard disk. I could be wrong but Grub uses the hard disk information handed down by the bios and it may need extra code/intellengence to sort out the difference between internal and external disks. A boot loader is a small program normally resides in the front end of the partition and there is a limited scope for it to do everything.

The work round schemes can involve sourcing the kernel and/or the boot loader from the internal hard disk. There is also the alternative of "NOT" using Grub or Lilo. That is what Puppy does.

When installing Puppy into an internal disk you get Grub as the default boot loader. For a USB device the boot loader is automatically changed to isolinux which is a slow boot loader designed for booting from a floppy.

Last edited by saikee; 12-02-2006 at 05:54 AM.
 
Old 12-07-2006, 08:56 PM   #10
pegazuz
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saikee
I am sure there are many posts publishing the work around the problem of booting off an external hard disk via a USB port but the standard distros are unsuitable without some tweaks.

I stand to be corrected but the standard boot loaders like Lilo and Grub are simple programs that seem to have a problem of recognising the USB devices. When a user installs a Linux onto an external disk he/she does so with the help or benefit of a kerenl. At boot up a boot loader has "NO" access to the kerenel. In fact it is its job to boot one up! If we use Linux and find the external hard disk it is because the kernel finds it for us.

he work round schemes can involve sourcing the kernel and/or the boot loader from the internal hard disk. There is also the alternative of "NOT" using Grub or Lilo. That is what Puppy does.

When installing Puppy into an internal disk you get Grub as the default boot loader. For a USB device the boot loader is automatically changed to isolinux which is a slow boot loader designed for booting from a floppy.
I also want to be able to boot up linux from an external USB drive and leave windows alone on the internal hard drive. Is Puppy Linux the only way I can do this. I like the Mepis and Ubuntu live CD's but can't get them installed on my Western Digital Passport USB drive so I don't know ifthey would boot up or not but I have read about others using Red Hat and Gentoo to do so. My Acer laptop is only a few months old and is Vista Capable and can boot from USB divice according to the bios settings.
 
Old 12-08-2006, 03:22 AM   #11
saikee
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I haven't gone deep into booting Linux on USB devices but have installed a few Linux into memory stick and external drives. I believe there are more distro choices for memory sticks. Last time I tried Mepis it wouldn't boot from the external hard disk. However I heard Ubuntu forum may have a work round scheme for external disk. Have a look at its site.

Puppy is pretty decent and does most of the things a Linux user needs.
 
Old 12-09-2006, 06:13 PM   #12
pegazuz
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Finally got puppy linux to boot from USB flash drive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saikee
I haven't gone deep into booting Linux on USB devices but have installed a few Linux into memory stick and external drives. I believe there are more distro choices for memory sticks. Last time I tried Mepis it wouldn't boot from the external hard disk. However I heard Ubuntu forum may have a work round scheme for external disk. Have a look at its site.

Puppy is pretty decent and does most of the things a Linux user needs.
I finally got Puppy to boot up from a USB drive. I think it will work for my purposes as I am using it right now to access my email and post this reply.
thanks for the tip.
 
Old 12-11-2006, 06:14 AM   #13
coqauvin
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Smile Puppy Linux booting External USB HD, YES!

Reporting back:

Puppy Linux Official Home page: //www.puppyos.com/
(quote):

Mission Statement

* Puppy will easily install to USB, Zip or hard drive media.
* Booting from CD, Puppy will load totally into RAM so that the CD drive is then free
for other purposes.
* Booting from CD, Puppy can save everything back to the CD, no need for a hard drive.
* Booting from USB, Puppy will greatly minimise writes, to extend the life of Flash
devices indefinitely.
* Puppy will be extremely friendly for Linux newbies.
* Puppy will boot up and run extraordinarily fast.
* Puppy will have all the applications needed for daily use.
* Puppy will just work, no hassles.
* Puppy will breathe new life into old PCs

(End quote).

My installation (from Windows XP Home):
- burned Puppy version 2.12 .ISO to CD using Nero,
- prepared external USB with a 40GB FAT32 Primary partition and a 3GB Linux Swap
partition using Paragon Partition Manager 7,0 Professional,
- disconnected internal Windows HD (this step assures Windows will not be touched),
- set Bios to boot CDROM,
- booted Puppy CD - filling the required configuration info, only required
once(configuration and data are saved to the external USB HD),

perfect.

Thank you, Saikee
 
Old 12-11-2006, 06:56 AM   #14
saikee
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I haven't investigated enough to come up with the explanation why it is difficult to boot with USB external hard disks or Firewire disks. However I am starting to take an interest in this subject. Hopefully some learned persons will enligten us on the way.

Apparently there are few methods succesful in booting an OS from an USB disks are

(1) Put the kernel and ramdisk file in a floppy and tell the distro in the USB disk to fetch them.

(2) Use a slower boot loader like syslinux (like Puppy does)

(3) Use a USB boot image provided by the adminstrator of the distro (Debian has such a facility)

(4) Dos can be booted from USB device if a suitable driver is loaded.

(5) BartPE project (to put XP on a Live CD) also been extended to put XP (or part of it) to boot from USB disks.

Last edited by saikee; 12-11-2006 at 06:58 AM.
 
Old 12-11-2006, 01:32 PM   #15
lymae
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pegazuz
I finally got Puppy to boot up from a USB drive. I think it will work for my purposes as I am using it right now to access my email and post this reply.
thanks for the tip.
Good for you.

But you'll soon find out that there's a trick to these LiveCD-derived USB Distros. I think knoppix was the one that started it all.
As of now, there might be 128M versions around, I haven't heard of larger USB distros except for Mandriva(which is 2GB). They assume that your USB is 128M, so they only compile the packages they can fit to it. A lot of times, you only have konqueror, not Firefox, but there are other examples...

And if you want to install a new app that is not a part of the original package, well.. you can, but when you reboot, you can do it all over, your apps will not be saved to USB, because their system's derived from LiveCD and those assume that the medium is read-only. Stuff like "Persistent home" will only save your desktop themes and wallpapers, but not the apps you install. So if your USB is 2GB, well... tough luck...

You'll know what I'm talking about after installing Flash for the 32nd time...

Last edited by lymae; 12-11-2006 at 01:35 PM.
 
  


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