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Old 02-20-2009, 12:11 PM   #1
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Question How to get Linux onto a USB Hard Drive?

Okay! I have on old 933Mhz Dell Optiplex with a 10Gb HDrive. But Only a floppy and NO CD Drive. I have reformatted the drive on my Windows PC using a USB adaptor. How can I make the drive Linux bootable using my Windows PC USB HD Adaptor that I can then put back into the DEll and use straight away?
Old 02-20-2009, 12:15 PM   #2
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take a look at
Old 02-20-2009, 12:21 PM   #3
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You have a second computer, I take it?

If possible, boot the Windows PC from a Live CD and install to the USB drive. Put the USB drive back in the Optiplex, you should be good from there.

...because really, the drive on USB (from the Optiplex?) needs to be partitioned, the partitions formatted, and all kinds of stuff the installer on a Live CD should do for you.

Or you could do it by hand with fdisk and some formatting, but you'd still need Linux on the primary PC.
Old 02-20-2009, 12:28 PM   #4
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Before you invest too much time in the project, verify whether or not your computer is capable of booting from USB (most older computers can't). (EDIT) I just re-read your original post; sounds like this isn't an issue in your case, sorry.

Headrift is correct: boot your other computer with the Live CD of your chosen distro and use it to install to the USB drive.

There is one thing to be careful of. Depending on the distro, it may default to installing the Grub bootloader on the internal hard drive, rather than the USB drive. (Ubuntu for example is notorious for this.) The last thing you want to do is overwrite your Windows MBR and be unable to boot without the USB drive plugged in. So make sure in the install options you are putting Grub on the correct drive. You may also need to edit the Grub options because the drive will probably be hd0 on the Optiplex and hd1 on the other computer. If you aren't sure how to do this, your safest option is to physically disconnect the internal hard drive on the Windows computer prior to beginning the experiment.

Last edited by snowpine; 02-20-2009 at 12:33 PM.
Old 02-20-2009, 12:33 PM   #5
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Here's my experience of doing exactly that. Basically, partition the drive up however you want it, then do the install being careful not to accidentally install or put Grub on the PC you've booted the Live CD on, but on the external drive as snowpine mentioned. You may, as I had to, have to fix the hd Grub thinks it's looking for but apart from that it was a pretty straightforward installation.
Old 02-21-2009, 05:44 AM   #6
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Thanks Guys for all your help!

The Optiplex had no Cd drive only Floppy and Hard Drive. BIOs wouldn't allow a USB boot.

So stuck the reformatted Drive into my other PC - Booted that from CD and let Ubuntu CD do it's stuff.

Once loaded - checked boot -all okay. Stuck Drive into the Optiplex and job done! Took a good while Ubuntu to update online - but now all is running nicely.

Thanks again Guys!

Last edited by I'llGetThereOneDay; 02-21-2009 at 05:45 AM. Reason: Used wrong word- Duh!


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