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Old 12-15-2007, 04:21 PM   #1
hammanu
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Installing mult distros on external usb hd


I was wondering if it was possible to install multiple distros on an external usb hard drive. I've fiddled around with a lot of distros trying to figure out which ones I like. So I'm somewhat familiar with installing linux. After a lot of trial and error I've come down to three distros that I like (only 2 of them have I actually taken for a test drive). MEPIS, openSUSE, and Slackware are what I've decided on after about a year of trying various distros. Slackware is the only distro that I have never tried. Eventually I will make a choice between MEPIS and SUSE. I think I will always keep Slackware since it is more "technical" from what I have been able to gather through research. And my ultimate goal is to know linux, not just know how to use it.

What I would like to do is keep XP on my laptop for now and install the distros to my 120G external usb hd. And have it configured so that i can still boot into XP without having to hook-up my external hd without my computer taking a dump on me. But, have the boot menu give me the option of which OS I want to boot to when I plug in the external hd. Any help that can be provided will be much appreciated.
 
Old 12-15-2007, 06:28 PM   #2
hammanu
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Also, is it possible for all three Linux OS's to share the same /home partition?
 
Old 12-15-2007, 06:45 PM   #3
gamewolf
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Yes, it is possible. In fact, I have a Debian on an external with windows on my internal. I don't have more than 1 distro, but it doesn't matter. Just partition your external and install them each on a second one.

Your second post however, I do not believe is possible, but I may be mistaken. I believe each one needs its own partition. Just like you can't have two versions of windows on one hd/partition. Files would be everywhere and it wouldn't work.

Hope this helped.
 
Old 12-15-2007, 07:00 PM   #4
hammanu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gamewolf View Post
Yes, it is possible. In fact, I have a Debian on an external with windows on my internal. I don't have more than 1 distro, but it doesn't matter. Just partition your external and install them each on a second one.

Your second post however, I do not believe is possible, but I may be mistaken. I believe each one needs its own partition. Just like you can't have two versions of windows on one hd/partition. Files would be everywhere and it wouldn't work.

Hope this helped.
Thanks for your reply. What about when the boot loader is installed? Is it ok if I let install to my MBR on my internal hd? Or do I have to specify it to the external hd? If it is written to the MBR on the internal and I boot up with my external hd unplugged will I still be able to boot into XP?
 
Old 12-15-2007, 07:08 PM   #5
snowman81
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If it is written to the MBR on the internal and I boot up with my external hd unplugged will I still be able to boot into XP?
If the MBR is on the internal then it should work if the external is unplugged. As for your other questions I'd have to do a little research.
 
Old 12-16-2007, 07:51 AM   #6
lin_myworld
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You can install not only 2 0r 3 but as many as u want....
i have 5 linux versions and a windows workin fine on my pc.
Now ur problem:
first make partition scheme on ur external harddisk and the install the linux versions in their respective partitions. now about booting what u have to do is install the grub in ur internal hardisk and install the grub over mbr and boot ur all os from there.

i promise ur pc will work fine.
 
Old 12-16-2007, 07:59 AM   #7
jschiwal
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Sharing the /home partition makes sense, because you don't have to fragment the drive as much. However, you should use different user directories in /home for your user. Even if you use the same username, you can use a different home directories, either when setting up the user during the installation, or by renaming the directory and editing /etc/passwd latter. The ~/.kde or the gnome settings for different distro's will be different. If you use the same home directory you will be making Ubuntu's gnome theme and menu look like SuSE's for example. What would be the point of installing several distro's if you homogenize what makes them unique.
 
Old 12-16-2007, 10:19 AM   #8
hammanu
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Ok so let me see if I got it all figured out and recap.

1. I can install 100 distros if I really wanted too
2. I can install them to an external hd, but grub or lilo must be installed to the mbr on the internal hd
3. I can use the same /home partition for all my distros, but I need to use separate /usr directories for each distro
4. I can still boot to windoze if the external hd is unplugged

Next question: How do I create different /usr directories for each of the distros? Is this done by using a different username and pass for each of the 3 distros?

Thanks again everyone for your replies and help.
 
Old 12-16-2007, 10:34 AM   #9
gamewolf
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Personally, I would recommend you put Grub or Lilo on the external. I don't like to mess with the MBR on my windows hd, so I use the NT Bootloader.

So basically, I go through two bootloaders. That is my personal preference however, you can do whatever you want. But you will have to install Grub on every single partition you use. That is the only drawback (as I can see)

Last edited by gamewolf; 12-16-2007 at 10:36 AM.
 
Old 12-16-2007, 10:45 AM   #10
hammanu
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gamewolf View Post
Personally, I would recommend you put Grub or Lilo on the external. I don't like to mess with the MBR on my windows hd, so I use the NT Bootloader.

So basically, I go through two bootloaders. That is my personal preference however, you can do whatever you want. But you will have to install Grub on every single partition you use. That is the only drawback (as I can see)
I'm not sure I understand. So if I install grub or lilo to the external hd I will need to install it to every partition on that drive?
 
Old 12-16-2007, 12:49 PM   #11
lin_myworld
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Quote:
I can use the same /home partition for all my distros
I cant understand what does that mean all the linux distro will be in their respective partitions. then how come they share their home directories .
 
Old 12-16-2007, 12:54 PM   #12
lin_myworld
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Quote:
Personally, I would recommend you put Grub or Lilo on the external. I don't like to mess with the MBR on my windows hd, so I use the NT Bootloader.
What do u mean by Don't mess with MBR.is it flowerpot that it will break.
For ur kind knowledge NT bootloader is able to boot about 10 operating systems whereas there is no limit for Grub.
Installing Grub and restoring Mbr is just a cakewalk.

Last edited by lin_myworld; 12-16-2007 at 12:56 PM.
 
Old 12-16-2007, 01:10 PM   #13
lin_myworld
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hammanu View Post
I'm not sure I understand. So if I install grub or lilo to the external hd I will need to install it to every partition on that drive?
First thing, u have to install grub on the each partition of linux...most of the distro automatically do it..and its nota problem u have to just type 3 commands.

second thing, either use grub of any of the linux distro u installed to boot other distro and windows or u seperately make a partition in which u store ur data and install grub in that partition and boot other distro from there using chainloading.

the second idea i gave u because if u lose ur distro from which u are booting all other distro...then u will note be able to boot single of them.
and if ur booting from data partiton as i give u the solution u will never be in trouble.......
 
Old 12-16-2007, 09:57 PM   #14
jschiwal
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lin_myworld View Post
I cant understand what does that mean all the linux distro will be in their respective partitions. then how come they share their home directories .
You can create a single partition that you use to mount on the /home directory of each distro. You can also share /tmp. It may be a good idea to clean out /tmp when shutting down. Most distro's will do that for you. Of course, you can reuse the swap partition as well.

---
As far as grub installation, only update grub from the same distro. You might want to install grub to the root partition of the other installs, and then cut and paste the stanza for each to the main /boot/grub/menu.lst file. Otherwise you will run into a situation of dueling MBRs.
 
Old 12-17-2007, 07:32 AM   #15
lin_myworld
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jschiwal View Post
You can create a single partition that you use to mount on the /home directory of each distro. You can also share /tmp. It may be a good idea to clean out /tmp when shutting down. Most distro's will do that for you.
i stil cant understand what did u say ..can u explain in detail????durin installation i never give path for home directory...does it mean that i have o give path for home directory during installation...by default the home dir is in /home/

Quote:
Originally Posted by jschiwal View Post
Of course, you can reuse the swap partition as well.
i know this point that we can use the same swap partition.
 
  


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