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This is not a question. It is an explanation of an issue I had a few days ago.
I have used usb flash drives as my linux portable solution. I quit using the portable installer apps and simply used normal type distro installs. This all worked well until I got tired of buying new flash drives. The usb were burning up every six months or so. Last week I bought an external portable shock hardened drive.
The normal way I install some OS is to use a virtual machine and attach the usb in the vm to the client and load the os. Since I have never had very large drives this new 500G should have been a simple matter. Use the installer, create my own partition scheme of entire drive a /. Tried btrfs on opensuse but after fooling with it for a few days on 3 distro's I began to wonder why I kept getting "grub rescue" and a file not found issue.
Here is the solution. Put a small /boot partition at the or near the beginning of the drive. /boot would contain the grub files.
My old no swap file and entire root method for usb flash on a large drive kept grub from finding the /boot directory.
I write this because I never found a good solution on the web pages I looked at.
The issue was grub files on a partition over 137G or something like that.
Good to know jefro. I just finished scraping a ms machine that the main board toasted. I pulled the sata 320 gig hard drive out and installed into a external usb enclosure. Running DD with random numbers on it right now to wipe.