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Old 08-04-2010, 09:42 AM   #1
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how do i Install and run Linux from an ext HDD??

Hi Guys,

I am a complete newbie to the linux world. However, i feel the time has come for me to expand my knowledge and see for myself why people say linux is better than windows.

I am currently running Microsoft xp and my laptop is a HP and has only got a 40gb hard drive but i am not 100% sure if i want to commit yet as i am not sure what to expect.

That then raises my question. How do i go about installing linux on my 250gb wd external HDD if it is possible???

Any advice will be very much appreciated. Thank you.
Old 08-04-2010, 10:09 AM   #2
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If your bios support USB boot there shouldn't be any problems. Just install it on external drive and turn on booting from usb.
Old 08-04-2010, 10:24 AM   #3
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Source for how to instructions below
Old 08-04-2010, 10:54 AM   #4
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I was in this position a couple of years ago. My Acer Aspire 5000 laptop had a harddrive failure. I didn't have the cash for a new HDD. Plus I didn't have an actual OS to install if I did replace the HDD. So, what can I do for free?

Some of the best suggestions I read about getting started with Linux were to try Live CDs OK, so there is a cost of blank media

A live CD will not change anything on your current computer and will allow you to explore Linux at your leisure. I found a couple of distributions that I liked.

My next step was to move into the realm of installing Linux to a USB flash drive. This seemed more permanent. And would free my CD drive! I read a lot of instructions about how to do it manually, and it was interesting to try that route. Today I use UNetbootin to create bootable USB drive.

Eventually I could found a WD 320 GB MyBook at an end-of-year discount. I had been playing with Linux on CD or USB drive for a little over a year, and decided it was time to have something more permanent. I downloaded an iso marked as OS installation from the live CD list (I noticed at some point that all of the distros that I liked were related to Debian. Plug everything in, start the computer, and simply follow the on-screen instructions like any other OS install.

Note: Will your computer boot from USB? Most newer computers do. You check this in the bios. Move the 'Boot from USB' option to the top of the list. Also, if you have the original HDD and the USB external both installed, you'll want to know which one is which so you install to the right place. USB drives are recognized as SCSI. So, /dev/sda instead of /dev/hda.

Lastly, welcome to a different OS! Thanks for asking.
Old 08-05-2010, 06:07 AM   #5
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Post Re: how do i Install and run Linux from an ext HDD??

Thank you so much guys, i will try it out and let you know how i get on Thanks again!!
Old 08-05-2010, 07:19 AM   #6
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Bear in mind there are two slightly-different ways to do this.

The first is to do an ordinary install to the USB drive. This will be most like a standard system. It won't, however, like being run on a different computer. You will need to format the drive with a Linux filesystem, which Windows can't read without third-party programs. You could partition the drive with a separate data partition in NTFS format.

The second is to create a persistent live USB. This will mean you can run it on (almost) any computer, like a LiveCD. However there will be differences from a standard system. You may be able to use an NTFS-formatted drive; however, your files in the Linux system by default end up in a "container" that Windows can't read. You can instead store your files outside the container straight onto the drive.

usb-creator-gtk in Ubuntu can create the second type of setup for Ubuntu and similar distros. You can install and run it from the LiveCD. There's also the aforementioned UNetBootin.
Old 08-05-2010, 07:57 AM   #7
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Linux doesn't really care whether it's running from a hard drive inside your computer or outside your computer. So long as your computer's BIOS supports booting from USB, you're good.

One word of warning however: if you are not experienced with the GRUB boot loader, depending on the distro, you should disconnect your internal hard drive before installing, so that the external is the only drive physically connected to your computer. Some distros (like Ubuntu) will default to installing GRUB on the MBR of the internal drive, replacing your Windows bootloader. (If you understand how GRUB works, you can choose the Advanced options and select the destination; if this doesn't make sense to you then just disconnect the internal drive for safety's sake.)
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