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Old 11-12-2006, 09:04 AM   #1
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Booting Suse 10.1 From USB External Hard Drive

Okay, first I want to point out that I am completely and entirely new to Linux; i.e., this is my first attempt at installing it, ever, and so I'm having problems.

The only computer I have available is my school laptop, and there are school/warranty issues and whatnot if I were to try and repartition the internal hard drive, so I looked around and decided to try to install it on an external USB hard drive. I heard that there were problems with booting to USB hard drives, so I chose Suse because I found a guide that kind of told me how to fix these problems for it.

So I repartitioned this external hard drive; I made a partition for NTFS, a partition for FAT32, and left the rest unallocated. I booted to the Suse 10.1 Install DVD and installed, making sure to install to the unallocated space on the external hard drive. As per the recommendation of one of the guides I installed the GRUB boot loader (I really have no idea how to use this thing, btw) to the root partition.

When Suse finished installing components, I was not in the room and when I returned, the computer was sitting at the Windows login screen. I wasn't sure if the install had worked correctly, but my unallocated space had been turned into two Linux Ext2 partitions (one of 20 GB, the other the rest of the space). Obviously, this isn't conclusive, but because I didn't return to an error message I figure that means the install went okay.

When I try and reboot the computer to the USB hard drive, the BIOS loading screen appears, pauses a second on a blank screen, the screen flickers and the BIOS loading screen appears again. This happens endlessly until I tell it to run from the internal hard drive instead. I figure this is the booting problem I was warned about where the Linux booting doesn't recognize USB devices, so the USB hard drive isn't found.

To fix this I was instructed to run in Rescue Mode from the CD and create an "INITRD Ramdisk." This is where the problem is. I put in the CD and run Rescue Mode, but I can't use the commands the guide tells me to, such as making directories because it is a "read only file system." I don't know if the fix for this is very simple or what (maybe so simple that I'm the only one foolish enough to ask about how to get around it), but I can't figure out what to do from here.

This is the brief guide I've been trying to follow, although it is for SUSE 9.2 and I'm using 10.1:[/url]

Thanks very much in advance for your help!
Old 11-12-2006, 11:24 AM   #2
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Sorry I can't be of much help here, but does the BIOS on the laptop actually support booting from an external drive ? Thats the first place I'd be looking.

Because I'd have thought it'd be logical that the BIOS should be checking there for a bootloader first i.e. before it looks at the internal hard drive so that if you wanted to use the SuSE it will default to that if the external drives plugged in, otherwise it might well always default to the windows bootloader on the main HDD - I'm thinking that it might have tried to install the bootloader (presumably GRUB) onto the main HDD and not been able too or something daft like that.

Erm I'd also repartition the External one, so that it only has maybe a FAT32 partition with the rest unallocated afterall, the main HDD is probably set up as NTFS so why would you want some NTFS space on the external one - just have the FAT32 area so that you can use it as cross OS and/or storage. that way, both OS can read/write to it without any problem.


Old 11-12-2006, 02:25 PM   #3
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John, thanks for you input.

I have the BIOS set to boot first from the DVDROM, and second from "USB Storage Device," followed by the Internal Hard Drive. My BIOS does not, however, have the ability to view detected hard drives and boot to a specific one, unfortunately.

I will go ahead and get rid of the NTFS partition if it could be causing problems. I was going to use it just to back up my internal hard drive's files, but I have another place I can do that.

I do remember that I installed GRUB to the "root partition folder," as it originally wanted to put it on the internal hard drive but I told it to put it on the external because I don't want to mess with the internal. Now as I am a complete beginner, I don't really know a whole lot about GRUB or how it works, but I've gotten the impression that it's the thing that the BIOS should load upon startup?


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