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Old 12-27-2013, 11:15 AM   #1
Kekker
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Installing Linux on an External HDD


Hi. I am new, and I am confused.
I have seen many forums in many places about this, but I don't quite get the answer.
From what I understand, you download the files onto a disk, then boot from the disk... but I don't understand how you get them from the disk to the EHD.

I have Windows 7 on my PC. It's a family computer with literally hundreds of word/ppt etc documents accumulated over about 15 years of work so wiping the computer and/or OS is not an option. I want to be able to boot from the EHD, and I know this is possible but I have no clue how to do it.

I have never used Linux before. I'm diving straight into ArchLinux. Don't bother trying to stop me; I think it'll be fun

Help is appreciated. Thank you.
 
Old 12-27-2013, 11:47 AM   #2
snowpine
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Welcome to the forums!

I think everyone here will agree, you ought to make a full backup of the 15 years of family documents, before proceeding with your Arch Linux experiment.

If you are going to install Arch Linux, it is mandatory in my opinion/experience to read and understand the Arch Beginners Guide: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Beginners'_Guide

I think you will find "Section 2.3: Prepare the storage drive" and "Section 2.12: Install and configure a bootloader" particularly relevant to your query. Note in particular the very first sentence of section 2.3: "Warning: Partitioning can destroy data. You are strongly cautioned and advised to backup any critical data before proceeding."

My recommendation is to brew a pot of coffee, read the Beginners Guide start to finish, and then post back with any specific questions. If you find it intimidating, then a much gentler introduction is to install a beginner-friendly distro (such as Mint or Ubuntu) in VirtualBox so that there is no risk to your data (but it is still smart to make a backup anyway)
 
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:42 PM   #3
Kekker
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Thank you, I'll take a look at that. Just to clarify, the family documents are NOT on the external; they are on the internal of my PC. I just want to get linux on the external, and I don't want to make any stupid mistakes and get it on the internal of my PC.
 
Old 12-27-2013, 01:21 PM   #4
snowpine
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All it takes is one slip of the finger (for example accidentally typing /dev/sda instead of /dev/sdb) and all your files are deleted from the internal. Ignore the Arch Beginner Guide's advice (to make a full backup before doing anything) at your own risk!

http://lifehacker.com/5816453/how-to...-your-computer

DO NOT use the same external drive you're installing Arch to as your backup drive! The backup should be on a completely separate drive that is physically disconnected from the computer and stored someplace safe. (And if the data is really important, you should have a backup of the backup. )
 
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Old 12-27-2013, 05:05 PM   #5
yancek
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Quote:
From what I understand, you download the files onto a disk, then boot from the disk... but I don't understand how you get them from the disk to the EHD
You download the file of the Linux distribution you want. It will have an .iso extension. You then burn the image to a CD/DVD as an image with whatever software you have. Many people try to copy it as they would other data and that will NOT work. You then set your computer to boot from the CD/DVD drive and proceed after doing a backup of all data.
 
Old 12-27-2013, 06:10 PM   #6
Kekker
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Save as an image? Why? And what extension? .jpg, .gif..?

Edit: Sorry that was a stupid question. Still not sure I understand how I save it on the EHD. Is it an option or something when I reboot the computer?

Last edited by Kekker; 12-27-2013 at 06:12 PM.
 
Old 12-27-2013, 06:42 PM   #7
schneidz
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i dont use arch but the normal process to boot up linux is to download the iso, image-copy it to a usb, set the pc to boot from usb (every manufacturer/model/bios is different), then follow the on screen instructions for that particular distro.
 
Old 12-27-2013, 07:56 PM   #8
snowpine
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Here are 3 alternatives to consider if you are unclear how to safely not mess up your Windows:

1. Acquire a cheap/old spare computer, solely dedicated to the Linux experiment
2. Use VirtualBox to experiment with Linux "inside of" Windows with zero risk
3. If you choose to proceed on your only/main family computer, then a good precaution is to physically disconnect the cables to the internal drive (consult manual from manufacturer how to do safely) before installing Linux on the external drive.

Last edited by snowpine; 12-27-2013 at 08:04 PM.
 
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:27 PM   #9
Kekker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
Here are 3 alternatives to consider if you are unclear how to safely not mess up your Windows:

1. Acquire a cheap/old spare computer, solely dedicated to the Linux experiment
2. Use VirtualBox to experiment with Linux "inside of" Windows with zero risk
3. If you choose to proceed on your only/main family computer, then a good precaution is to physically disconnect the cables to the internal drive (consult manual from manufacturer how to do safely) before installing Linux on the external drive.
I like those ideas. Idk how VirtualBox works (I'll check the link), and I doubt ill be able to acquire a spare PC, so I'll probably go with option number 3.

I'm impressed. I hadn't thought of simply disconnecting the internal.
 
Old 12-27-2013, 09:42 PM   #10
jailbait
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kekker View Post
I hadn't thought of simply disconnecting the internal.
On my computer I can enable and disable hard drives in the BIOS. Take a look at your BIOS and see if you can disable your hard drive in the BIOS and not have to open up your computer.

--------------------------
Steve Stites
 
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Old 12-27-2013, 10:40 PM   #11
pcfast
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ArchLinux is NOT for beginners. I'd recommend Linux Mint, Ubuntu, or a Ubuntu derivative if you and your family are new to Linux.
 
Old 12-28-2013, 09:29 AM   #12
yancek
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Quote:
Save as an image? Why? And what extension? .jpg, .gif..?
No, not 'save' as an image, burn to a CD/DVD as an image. Burning software if it is any good should give you that option. If you simply copy the downloaded Linux iso file to a CD/DVD it won't work. You need to select the option to 'burn as an image' with your burning software if you want to put it on a CD/DVD.

Using VirtualBox as suggested above might be the best option for your particular situation.
 
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Old 12-28-2013, 10:45 AM   #13
Kekker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jailbait View Post
On my computer I can enable and disable hard drives in the BIOS. Take a look at your BIOS and see if you can disable your hard drive in the BIOS and not have to open up your computer.

--------------------------
Steve Stites
Thanks, I'll look into that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pcfast View Post
ArchLinux is NOT for beginners. I'd recommend Linux Mint, Ubuntu, or a Ubuntu derivative if you and your family are new to Linux.
Me and my family are happy with our computer's Windows config, I just want to check out Linux just for fun. And besides, I like a challenge

Quote:
Originally Posted by yancek View Post
No, not 'save' as an image, burn to a CD/DVD as an image. Burning software if it is any good should give you that option. If you simply copy the downloaded Linux iso file to a CD/DVD it won't work. You need to select the option to 'burn as an image' with your burning software if you want to put it on a CD/DVD.
Thanks. After I have it on the CD, how do I get it to the external drive? I boot from the CD, then what? That's the part I can't figure out.
 
Old 12-28-2013, 10:56 AM   #14
Kekker
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Arch Linux on a USB key and Official Arch Linux Install Guide seem relevant. Just found them; are they accurate? Are they good guides? Sorry if I look like a noob here (I am) I just don't want to spend days trying to get this right.

Edit: Is sda my internal? Is that the hard drive I should avoid mounting to/clearing/installing on?

Last edited by Kekker; 12-28-2013 at 11:06 AM.
 
Old 12-28-2013, 11:18 AM   #15
Nbiser
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Hi! Here is some step by step advice for you. After you download your .iso file, burn it to a DVD or use unetbootin to put it on a thumb drive.

1. Back up all of your family's documents.
2. Remove the internal HD from you PC.
3. Put your install disk or USB drive in to the pc and plug in your external HD.
4. Install from there.

I have found that it is a good idea to remove your internal HD because it helps to avoid mistakes, if it isn't there you can't install on it! I prefer this to editing the BIOS because I think that it is much simpler, and even somewhat safer as BIOS can seriously mess up your computer if you are not careful.

Good Luck!

Nbiser
 
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