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Old 10-11-2005, 09:35 PM   #1
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Linux on an external hard drive?

Ok, I have been playing around with some live-cd's and i was wondering if i could instal a version of linux on the an external hdd and boot from that when i wanted. It is an external harddrive enclosure so i can take it out and out it in my PC. I would dual boot it with windows as well. This is no my computer so I want everything intact. I would also like the ability to use windows for playing my computer game. Is there any way to do this?, thanks
Old 10-12-2005, 01:07 AM   #2
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It may depend on whether the computer you are using can boot from an external drive. If this is a usb drive, some computers can boot from usb, but you first need to enable that option in BIOS. Also, there may be a key you can press at the beginning of the boot process that lets you select which device to boot from. This would leave the computer intact without changing the MBR.

Another option is to boot from a cdrom or floppy boot disk. A third option is to use the NTLDR ( for XP, Win 2000, NT ) to chainload to the linux loader. There are many how-to posts on this site, or you could google for the terms NT Lilo boot "how to" or [b]NT grub boot "how to"[b] or read the how to at site. This would entail saving a small 240 byte image file on the C:\ drive and adding a line to the hidden, system C:\BOOT.INI file.

You would probably want to re-format the external drive during the installation process so that you are using a native linux file-system. The Fat32 filesystem that are used on most external drives can't save all of the permissions that Linux uses. Also, bear in mind that the read/write performance of a usb or ieee1394 drive will be less than it would be on an onboard ide or scsi drive.
Old 10-12-2005, 01:16 AM   #3
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As jschiwal mentioned, the ability to boot from an external USB drive depends on whether or not your BIOS supports the USB device option as a boot choice. If so, make it the first entry in the boot sequence, if not, then realistically there won't be any easy way to boot from an external drive.

Of course, if the Live-CD's are working well for you, you don't necessarily need to install to the hard drive. Good luck with it
Old 10-12-2005, 03:46 PM   #4
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I already cheked the BIOS before posting, unfortunatly it did not support the usb. I also formated the hard drive already, the only ting thats on there is video files right now, would that cause trouble during instalation? Also i want to install it to the drive if possible, so it would be easier to customize my programs. Anyways, thanks a lot, I will look into some of those other options


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