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Old 12-13-2003, 11:23 PM   #1
costasm
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Can I boot Linux From a USB Hard Disk?


Is there a way to install Linux on my USB drive and maybe boot from it?
 
Old 12-14-2003, 01:07 AM   #2
sudhir
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Yep... You have to make a boot partition on the USB hard disk !!!
 
Old 12-14-2003, 03:01 AM   #3
Guru3
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Theoretically, although without and internal hard drive, you should findout whether or not your BIOS supports booting of the USB disk. Because if your BIOS doesn't support, you can Install and Partition all you like, but it won't boot.
 
Old 12-14-2003, 09:09 PM   #4
costasm
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So I could install Red Hat On a USB drive but then Grub would just simply start the boot from the normal hard disk. Is this right?
 
Old 12-14-2003, 09:56 PM   #5
ezra143
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I would imagine there would be quite a few difficulties involved with this. As i understand it, grub does not load the usb drivers and once the bootloader is running, you have chosen the harddisc to boot from. The kernel, i believe, is what loads them, if you have the kernel on your usb disk.... see the issue?

You may be more successful with a cd based distro, as all the info it needs is on the disc, which you could use on a USB drive if the bios supported booting from it.

But, i have never attempted this, so i may be totaly off base, just my

Last edited by ezra143; 12-14-2003 at 10:00 PM.
 
Old 12-15-2003, 12:32 AM   #6
Guru3
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I wouldn't think that a RedHat install would work on a USB disk because there wouldn't be enough space. But as long as the BIOS supports booting off USB it shouldn't be a huge problem to make some form of linux boot. (just a tiny one ) But check this out: http://linuxdocs.tuxfamily.org/flonix/index.php
 
Old 12-15-2003, 07:58 AM   #7
costasm
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I think an 80GB USB Hard disk should be more than enough for any Linux.
I guess I am thinking of making a dual boot system, by adding this USB 80GB HD. The only think is the boot loader would have to be either on the 1st HD or on CDROM.
 
Old 12-15-2003, 09:09 AM   #8
kev82
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by costasm
The only think is the boot loader would have to be either on the 1st HD or on CDROM.

no that wouldnt work because the bootloader has no way of accessing usb devices, either the bios needs to be able to boot from a usb device(ie the bootloader on usb device) or you'll have to patch a current bootloader to allow reading from usb devices(not an easy task), i dont know of any bootloaders that can do this. but you definatly can get bios'es that allow booting off usb devices cos ive seen them.
 
Old 12-15-2003, 09:31 AM   #9
benjithegreat98
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I would have grub on the ide hdd and the /boot directory somewhere on it as well. put the root directory ( / ) on the usb drive. It seems like that would work in theory.
 
Old 12-15-2003, 09:59 AM   #10
Guru3
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I am planning on testing that theroy in the next few weeks (with a USB key) and I think that it's just that the boat loader on a floppy or HD1 and the USB and USB disk support in the kernel.

PS: For some reason I thought this was about a usb key, stupid me, 80GB is more then enough HD space. But does RH install detect the USB drive? I know Win2K/WinXP setup detects firewire drives...
 
Old 12-15-2003, 10:09 AM   #11
benjithegreat98
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Oh yeah, I didn't think about the install not detecting it..... Well There is only one way to find that one out. Pop in the install disks and when you get to the partioning section see what it can see of your machine
 
Old 12-15-2003, 10:13 AM   #12
ezra143
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well, you could do a test instal and copy the image from the hd to the usb drive and then play with the bootloader etc. if it doesn't..

I would still consider something like http://www.slackware-live.org/ on you usb key.
 
Old 12-15-2003, 10:49 AM   #13
costasm
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Assuming the BIOS does not boot from USB then, you would still need a /boot partition on your HD (about 102MB) since GRUB starts the booting process there. I think this would work as long as the USB device is detected and the partition is mounted early before services are started.

I don't know if there is any BIOS out there that boots from USB or Firewire. I don't know if there are any technical limits to this. Obviously it would be much slower than booting from an internal HD.
 
Old 12-15-2003, 10:49 AM   #14
Guru3
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I am 98% certain that if you include full USB support in the kernel image that it would work. The only thing I could think that could be a problem is that by adding another USB drive... Also, which version of USB would you be using? 1.0/1.1 @ 10mbps or 2.0 @ 480mbps? If it's 1.0/1.1 I would ditch the idea as a permanment solution. That would be a really slow HD . But as an emergency solution (ie you find yourself in a windows only computer lab!) a USB key/floppy combo would be perfect.
 
Old 01-03-2004, 07:12 AM   #15
Ninurta
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I'm running SuSE on a drive I intend to make USB. I have an ASUS motherboard (no BIOS support for USB boot--I contacted them and asked). I'm quite experienced with GRUB, and SuSE 9 repair mode installation automatically fixes errors in GRUB. I would assume you would need to use a boot floppy or boot CD, which is not really a big problem. I'm planning on hooking the drive up as USB with the primary master (Windows XP) disconnected. This will prevent Yast from rewriting GRUB to the boot sector on that drive (GRUB is already on the Linux drive). Then boot from the installation CD and run automatic repair, which should tell GRUB how to configure the drive in the new position. Since there's no bios support, that in itself won't boot the drive. If my boot floppy will find and boot the drive, then copying the GRUB configuration to the floppy and burning a bootable CD should enable ANY system to boot that drive (assuming, of course, that there's only one USB drive to boot at any given time). A similar procedure (it doesn't use GRUB) should work for FreeBSD as well, and I am planning to do that likewise. That should enable anyone to run any OS from any computer without partitioning, using a boot manager, installing a new drive, running VMware, or buying Windows. Don't tell Mr. Gates. Any configuration ideas would be appreciated.
 
  


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