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Old 10-07-2014, 02:22 PM   #1
Natarajishakti
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Question I want to install Linux to an external hard drive - have a few questions on this


I am very new to Linux, but I've been wanting to switch over from Microsoft Windows OS for some time now, and that time in now here. I am running a Dell Inspiron laptop 1545 with Windows Vista, and I have sworn I will not support MS Windows products any further!

The first step I'm thinking is to reformat that drive, which is 283 GB.
So, Question for step 1:
What is the best format to use in reformatting for Linux? NTFS or FAT32?

Questions for step 2:
Notes:
I have downloaded and created 2 DVD images of Xubuntu 14.04 and Linux Mint 17 - not sure which I will use yet. The external drive I'm wanting to use is from another Dell and will fit into mine and once I'm up to speed on Linux, I plan to swap out the drive I'm using now that is running Windows Vista. It is in an enclosure that allows me to connect it to my laptop.

a) How do I install Linux OS onto this extra external hard drive?

b) Will I have to change something in my Dell Inspiron laptop BIOS to get it to be able to boot from this external drive? Not familiar with how to change BIOS at this time, but want to learn.

I thought this would be a user friendly way to get used to Linux and find out how to run the programs I will need, get my printers to work, etc. and basically learn about Linux.

Any instructions or help will be gratefully received!

Thank you.

PS -- I have found instructions that talk about creating partitions, but I don't know why creating a partition on the external hard drive would be necessary. There is nothing on it I need to save or keep access to. I'd prefer not to create partitions unless it's necessary for some other reason.

Last edited by Natarajishakti; 10-07-2014 at 02:52 PM. Reason: Add a note about partitioning the drive - not sure it's necessary in my case.
 
Old 10-07-2014, 02:38 PM   #2
schneidz
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most linux distros usually run on an ext2/3/4 filesystem but there are others (like reiserfs/... for speed and/or journaling).

the easiest way to run/install linux would be to create a live-usb of whatever distro you want and set-up your bios/boot sequence to boot from the usb harddrive instead of internal harddrive.

if you want to install it permanently then clik on the 'install to hd' icon on the desktop and follow the prompts.

Last edited by schneidz; 10-07-2014 at 02:41 PM.
 
Old 10-07-2014, 04:17 PM   #3
exvor
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Most distros have a GUI installer these days. You will simply need to choose the external HDD when running the install. Make sure that when prompted for which drive to install the boot loader on you choose the external one or you will overwrite the windows boot loader and this may not be what you intend. To make this boot able on most DELL machines you need to press F12 when booting to get the one time boot menu. Then you would need to select the external drive to boot from. To make this more permanent your going to have to modify the boot order in the bios.
 
Old 10-07-2014, 05:19 PM   #4
jailbait
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natarajishakti View Post
PS -- I have found instructions that talk about creating partitions, but I don't know why creating a partition on the external hard drive would be necessary. There is nothing on it I need to save or keep access to. I'd prefer not to create partitions unless it's necessary for some other reason.
You should have at least 2 partitions on the drive, one for swap and the second for everything else. If you plan to use the hibernate feature then make swap a little bigger than your RAM size. Otherwise 1G is plenty for swap.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Natarajishakti View Post
So, Question for step 1:
What is the best format to use in reformatting for Linux? NTFS or FAT32?
swap has no filesystem. I recommend ext4 for the main partition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Natarajishakti View Post
b) Will I have to change something in my Dell Inspiron laptop BIOS to get it to be able to boot from this external drive? Not familiar with how to change BIOS at this time, but want to learn.
The procedure for booting an external drive varies from machine to machine. On my machine I have to have the drive plugged in when I power on. That way the external drive appears in the list of bootable devices in the BIOS. Then I go into the BIOS and select the external drive as the one I boot from.

If you have Linux installed on your internal drive there is a way that you can set up GRUB to boot your external drive without having to go into the BIOS on every boot.


I think that schneidz and exvor answered the rest of your questions.

---------------------
Steve Stites

Last edited by jailbait; 10-07-2014 at 05:22 PM.
 
Old 10-07-2014, 07:10 PM   #5
jonnynitro138
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I'm a bit of a novice myself with linux (try lubuntu instead of xubuntu). I do know how to get the linux distro you want onto your external hard drive from windows. Grab this program http://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-mu...t-usb-creator/ . This will make a bootloader for your distro, just follow the directions and promps, it's very easy to use. Plug in you external drive, start yumi, select you drive location from the drop down menu, select your distro from the drop down menu, (for me it's easier to put the distro iso on my desktop) then select the distro iso locatoin on you laptop from the browse drop down menu. After yumi finishes shutdown laptop and unplug internal hardrive. Startup your laptop and hold down the F2 key to get into your systems bios. move to boot order and select usb as first start and hd as second start, this will boot you from the external drive. Now restart laptop again and when promted select linux distros and then your distro. Once your running your distro you can install it from the desktop to your externall hd, there should be an icon for this around the upper left side of your monitor. When partitioning your installation I think lubuntu does this all for you, but if not swap = twice your ram so 4 gigs, and root well you have the space don't be cheap 50 gigs should way more than do, the rest use as your home. Plus since your new know this site https://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/ . Really it won't help much at first, but later as you start to get your fingers dirty and a basic understanding of what you can do to your system or program you'll want to visit this site more and more often. Yes I think lubuntu will use the whole hard drive without you having to partition it yourself. The reason for unplugging you internal HD during this is that you have a very high chance of not being able to log back onto windows again, I have done this to myself at least eight times and it sucks. You can use the external device anytime simply by plugginig it in before bootup and it will boot into your linux. You can also access your windows drive if you have plugged it back in and are using your linux, but more than likely not vice versa. Hope this helps you.
Jonnynitro138

If you cannot enter your bios with F2 try this http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/foru...dell-inspiron/

Last edited by jonnynitro138; 10-07-2014 at 07:21 PM.
 
Old 10-07-2014, 08:00 PM   #6
TxLonghorn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natarajishakti
The external drive I'm wanting to use is from another Dell and will fit into mine and once I'm up to speed on Linux, I plan to swap out the drive I'm using now that is running Windows Vista. It is in an enclosure that allows me to connect it to my laptop.
a) How do I install Linux OS onto this extra external hard drive?
That is a great plan.
You need to burn the .iso files to DVD and boot the DVD. You will then see the installation program launcher on the desktop. Start the program and install to the external drive, using the entire disc. The installation program will take care of creating the partitions for you.
Make sure that you are installing Mint AND installing the bootloader (GRUB) to the external drive.
If you unplug the internal drive, as jonnynitro138 suggested, that will give you an extra level of security.
With the internal and external drives both working, the installer will probably see the internal one as sda, and the external one as sdb. You have to double-check to make sure. If you unplug the internal drive, the installer will probably see the external drive as sda. You have to know because you have to be double-sure you are installing the bootloader to the right one.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Natarajishakti
b) Will I have to change something in my Dell Inspiron laptop BIOS to get it to be able to boot from this external drive? Not familiar with how to change BIOS at this time, but want to learn.
This is different for various computers. For me, I go into the BIOS settings by pressing F2 during boot, and I go into the BIOS boot menu with F12. For Dell, I think it is usually Del that gets you into the BIOS. It will tell you which keys to use at the bottom of the screen when it first starts booting.
 
Old 10-07-2014, 08:24 PM   #7
yancek
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The link below is to the Ubuntu site which has a simple tutorial on installing it. Xubuntu and Linux Mint are both derived from Mint so the process is nearly identical.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/GraphicalInstall

The link below is also an installation tutorial. The first part of the page has a lot of information which will be useful to a new user before beginning to install.

http://www.dedoimedo.com/computers/u...all-guide.html
 
Old 10-07-2014, 09:04 PM   #8
jefro
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Remove power and or data to internal drive.

Boot to bios and see that usb shows up as your only hard drive choice.


Reboot to dvd and install linux to external usb.
 
Old 10-15-2014, 08:07 PM   #9
Natarajishakti
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Thank you all for all the replies... I will be implementing them soon. Once I posted my request here, my work life picked up and got very busy, keeping me away from the forum for a bit.

I will be formatting my extra hard drive tonight and will then proceed with the other steps! I'll check back here when that part is done.

Thank you again so much for all the responses!

---------- Post added 10-15-14 at 06:08 PM ----------

Thank you all for all the replies... I will be implementing them soon. Once I posted my request here, my work life picked up and got very busy, keeping me away from the forum for a bit.

I will be formatting my extra hard drive tonight and will then proceed with the other steps! I'll check back here when that part is done.

Thank you again so much for all the responses!
 
Old 10-15-2014, 10:22 PM   #10
jefro
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I might offer a different approach. If you system is good enough, you can run a free virtual machine. The virtual machine is a software computer. You run windows and linux at same time. It is the safest way to run two that I know of.

The only part may be to have your virtual computers data placed in this extra drive.

From what I've heard, you should avoid doing a dual boot. If you insist, then remove power/data to internal drive before you being to protect that data/drive.
 
Old 12-17-2014, 03:48 PM   #11
CShannFan
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Parted Magic extras menu: Plopbootmanager strategy for booting from the external usb hard drive

When I installed Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot to an external usb Toshiba 320GB hard drive, I choose to install the grub(?) boot manager on the hdb1 partition on the external hard drive. Upon rebooting the Dell Latitude D600 laptop 32-bit, I then selected the boot menu and chose usb storage to boot Linux from the external usb hard drive. I had no way to access that partition on the external hard drive.
However, there is a work-around. In my case I happened to remember that I had burned Parted Magic to CD 32-bit. I left the external hard drive attached and inserted the Parted Magic CD. The second time I booted to the boot menu on the Dell laptop, I chose CD from the boot selections. So Parted Magic on the CD booted up. Go down to the Extras Menu (arrow-down I believe) and select a program option called Plopbootmanager.
You will see a selection for the various partitions. For example, the internal hard drive for the laptop in my case was hda,hda1 etc. For the external hard drive the partitions were labelled hdb, hdb1, hdb2 etc.
So as long as you document, or remember on which partition you put the grub boot manager, in my case hdb1, you select the partition of interest from the options in Plop bootmanager. I was able to successfully boot up Ubuntu linux (32-bit) on the external usb hard drive.
Clearly, this approach may seem haphazard or clumsy or what have you. I just wanted to throw this somewhat resourceful? strategy out to you should you want to weigh it as an option. You may conclude that using Plopbootmanager from the Extras Menu in Parted Magic is but an unnecessary dependency.
 
Old 12-17-2014, 09:08 PM   #12
WFV
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jailbait View Post
You should have at least 2 partitions on the drive, one for swap and the second for everything else. If you plan to use the hibernate feature then make swap a little bigger than your RAM size. Otherwise 1G is plenty for swap.



swap has no filesystem. I recommend ext4 for the main partition.



The procedure for booting an external drive varies from machine to machine. On my machine I have to have the drive plugged in when I power on. That way the external drive appears in the list of bootable devices in the BIOS. Then I go into the BIOS and select the external drive as the one I boot from.

If you have Linux installed on your internal drive there is a way that you can set up GRUB to boot your external drive without having to go into the BIOS on every boot.


I think that schneidz and exvor answered the rest of your questions.

---------------------
Steve Stites
or use at least 3 partitions, 1. / (root) 2. /home 3. Swap, this way if OS crashes you still have your data and easier to re-install "/"
 
Old 12-18-2014, 04:28 PM   #13
Ihatewindows522
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natarajishakti View Post
I am very new to Linux, but I've been wanting to switch over from Microsoft Windows OS for some time now, and that time in now here. I am running a Dell Inspiron laptop 1545 with Windows Vista, and I have sworn I will not support MS Windows products any further!
Great to hear we have another!!

Quote:
The first step I'm thinking is to reformat that drive, which is 283 GB.
So, Question for step 1:
What is the best format to use in reformatting for Linux? NTFS or FAT32?
NEITHER! ext4 and xfs are among the best. If you absolutely have to choose from the two, then NTFS.

Quote:
Questions for step 2:
Notes:
I have downloaded and created 2 DVD images of Xubuntu 14.04 and Linux Mint 17 - not sure which I will use yet. The external drive I'm wanting to use is from another Dell and will fit into mine and once I'm up to speed on Linux, I plan to swap out the drive I'm using now that is running Windows Vista. It is in an enclosure that allows me to connect it to my laptop.

a) How do I install Linux OS onto this extra external hard drive?
Most distros (including yours) have very good installers. Very user friendly, you've got nothing to worry about. Just make sure you select the right drive, and all will be well.

Quote:
b) Will I have to change something in my Dell Inspiron laptop BIOS to get it to be able to boot from this external drive? Not familiar with how to change BIOS at this time, but want to learn.
Most likely. Make sure it can boot from the live medium (DVD or USB) and that SecureBoot is DISABLED if you have a UEFI.

Quote:
I thought this would be a user friendly way to get used to Linux and find out how to run the programs I will need, get my printers to work, etc. and basically learn about Linux.
You would be correct. Also give openSuSE a try, it's one of the more polished up distros.

Quote:
I have found instructions that talk about creating partitions, but I don't know why creating a partition on the external hard drive would be necessary. There is nothing on it I need to save or keep access to. I'd prefer not to create partitions unless it's necessary for some other reason.
Yes, this is customary for Linux. You should create a swap partition that should be roughly twice your RAM. People will argue with that, and that's fine, consider all of your options and take them with a pinch of salt. It doesn't matter much in my case because I have 8GB and I rarely run out. On my Precision laptop, I have 2GB RAM, so I have a 4GB swap, and I use that a lot.
I would also recommend that you make a separate /home partition (basically your My Documents folder) so that if you need to reinstall Linux or don't like the distro you installed, you don't have to back up your stuff. Huge time saver!! Make it as big as you will need, but I would leave about 16-32 GB for the OS.
The installer will make all of this very easy, you won't even have to touch a command line unless something is REALLY broken, or if you want to.

Last edited by Ihatewindows522; 12-18-2014 at 04:32 PM. Reason: fixed some bb code
 
  


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