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Old 10-31-2009, 08:49 PM   #1
stenir
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Question How to learn Linux using external portable HDD


I am Stephen. A retired Government employee. I wish to learn Linux. I intended to buy an external portable hard disk and install Linux in it. I like to know whether it is possible to learn Linux in this way? Which Linux is good- Obunttu or RedHat or any other?

Last edited by stenir; 10-31-2009 at 08:54 PM.
 
Old 10-31-2009, 09:16 PM   #2
r3sistance
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Hi,

It is possible to boot Linux off of External Hard Drive but not ideal, it would require some experience for the installation to occur as it's all too easy to create a situtation where you make the normal hard drive unbootable, this can be avoided by completely disabling the main hard drive during time of installation (disabling in bios or removing the connectors from the back of the hard drive).

My advice instead of this would be to use a Virtual Machine to learn Linux instead within windows, it's alot less hassle to deal with as you don't risk harming windows itself and should you do something wrong with the linux installation, it's alot easier to just reinstall a VM then it is a full external hard drive. I think the two easiest Distributions would be Ubuntu or Fedora, they are both aimed at desktop usage and relatively easy to use.
 
Old 11-01-2009, 05:16 AM   #3
rich_c
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Here's a guide to virtualisation. I'd agree that if you've got the hardware for it, it's a great way to get started.

I've got SimplyMepis (Danum Linux Canteras 3c) on an external HDD. All I had to do to get it installed was carefully go through a normal install, baking sure I was installing on sdb/sdb1 and not sda and then edit GRUB manually to amend hd 1 references to hd 0. Probably a bit much for someone just starting....
 
Old 11-01-2009, 05:20 AM   #4
manwithaplan
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Use the wubi installer in Ubuntu... This will install Ubuntu into into a file on the hdd. Its rather easy to do ...

http://wubi-installer.org/
 
Old 11-01-2009, 05:23 AM   #5
soleil24
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stenir,

With due respect to r3sistance, I would suggest the disadvantage with a VM install is that the virtual interfaces can be problematic and if you're learning, you don't know if the issue is with the VM or Linux.

Installing to a secondary drive, understanding disk/partition management and the boot process is a good learning experience in itself

As for which distribution, well you will probably get at least as many answers as there are distros ! I would say a lot depends on what you mean by "learn Linux" and for what?

Ubuntu is certainly very popular but (and without wishing to upset the Ubuntu user community) it appears to try and deliver a Windows-like experience insofar as much of the configuration is hidden from user-control - great if you want an "out of the box" solution but not much learning involved. At the other extreme would be Linux From Scratch, which as the name suggests...!

Fedora is well-established and widely-used and is RedHat's "open" cousin and would be a good choice. openSuse has good support as well, but tread carefully as the new release (11.2) is nearly upon us and as a new user you might be better looking at distro with a few months' real-world use under its belt.

Most mainstream distros offer some kind of "Live" boot media so (bandwidth and time allowing) you could try a few of these without installing anything at all and see how they play with your hardware setup and how you like the look of them.

Good luck with your learning.

IG
 
Old 11-01-2009, 05:37 AM   #6
hurry_hui
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Well, it is correct that virtualization indeed is sometime problematic (at least for me)...you also need good hardware support.

I myself use external HDD to install various distro (Ubuntu, Archlinux and Slackware). I used to have Sabayon and Fedora in it, but both were moved to main hdd.

Currently I use grub on external HDD's MBR to boot all three above. For internal HDD I use Fedora's Grub.

Before installing, I set boot order as follows: CDROM - USB HDD - HDD

I partitioned the drive using GParted installed in Sabayon.

As for choice of distro to use...you choose the one you are comfortable to work with...just try several distro...

HTH
 
Old 11-01-2009, 05:51 AM   #7
soleil24
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stenir,

the best advice is probably that tag-line of hurry-hui

IG
 
Old 11-01-2009, 06:54 AM   #8
manwithaplan
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I disagree ... If you want to install linux and learn without having to go through all the grub or lilo related issue's... You should put the Ubuntu cd into the drive, and install Ubuntu using the wubi installer, into your USB drive (it can be formated with NTFS).

You can then allocate as much space as you want, and you dont have to mess with the MBR. And once you've became comfortable enough with linux, then install it on the USB drive and use grub for a dual boot.
 
Old 11-01-2009, 07:33 AM   #9
soleil24
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And wubi is..?

From the wubi site, "Wubi is an officially supported Ubuntu installer for Windows users that can bring you to the Linux world with a single click."

Or a way to avoid having to learn Linux "grub and lilo issues" and give you that familiar "click here, go grab a coffee and it'll all be fine when you get back" feeling.

Like I said, depends how the OP defines "learn linux". As someone who began "learning" PCs when you had to build your own, and my first Linux (Slackware)install involved creating a stack of floppy disks, I confess I may have a slightly old-fashioned approach

IG
 
Old 11-01-2009, 07:40 PM   #10
manwithaplan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by soleil24 View Post
And wubi is..?

From the wubi site, "Wubi is an officially supported Ubuntu installer for Windows users that can bring you to the Linux world with a single click."

Or a way to avoid having to learn Linux "grub and lilo issues" and give you that familiar "click here, go grab a coffee and it'll all be fine when you get back" feeling.

Like I said, depends how the OP defines "learn linux". As someone who began "learning" PCs when you had to build your own, and my first Linux (Slackware)install involved creating a stack of floppy disks, I confess I may have a slightly old-fashioned approach

IG
I was suggesting the easiest way to get familiar with linux with the least amount of pain ... I find the other suggestions approachable, but not the easiest. Wubi is a windows installer, that installs Linux into a compressed image file onto the hdd. Much like a VM image. The adavantage is that you dont have to worry about overwriting or restoring the MBR. Which is usually the number #1 related issue when it comes to dealing with a linux install.

I was suggesting using this approach, with the already NT loader and make it pain free as possible. It is sound advice IMHO. You can dual boot with the NT bootloader and still access the Ubuntu. Then once you get more familiar with the OS, you can repartition and add grub to the USB's MBR. And chainload with grub.

Grub and NT bootloader dont play well with each other... or at least NT. And the OP wanted to use his USB drive. Why not use Wubi ... to learn the basics and then go for a complete install once comfortable...
 
Old 11-01-2009, 10:33 PM   #11
soleil24
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manwithaplan,

Sorry didn't mean to be sounding all confrontational!

Poor stenir has probably run a mile by now.

What you say makes perfect sense as a low-pain intro approach. Having just spent 3 hours rebuilding my grub environment after karmic's "grub2" chewed it up, I may even give wubi a try myself

IG
 
  


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