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jonp 03-06-2010 06:37 AM

USB hard drive as an HDD boot drive
I have a Toshiba laptop with BIOS that will not recognize USB as a boot medium (I have purchased two USB 'thumb' drives with Distro's that do boot but the BIOS see them as HDD devices!)

I did manage to install and boot a distro from the USB HD but ended up with the USB drive having to be connected' to select any of the OS partions, to boot anything.
I do realize that somehow, when installing the new distro on the USB drive, I changed the GRUB configuration to be on the USB drive which obviously I did not want, so can someone tell me how to get that GRUB configuration on the laptop main drive?

Thanks for any help.


linus72 03-06-2010 07:13 AM

What model of Toshiba?
I have a 7000CT 266mhz 160MB ram , 4GB hdd
I currently have Debian and Slack 13 on there...somehow(4GB HDD!?)

it doesn't boot from usb either so I use Plop to boot usb, usb-cdrom,etc
I put Plop on all my live stuff too..

If booted up from either usb or hdd, just copy the menu.lst to lappy hdd
and redo grub if you have to

cp -a /boot/grub/menu.lst /mnt/hda1/boot/grub/

if copying from usb to hdd

as long as the menu.lst says its booting (hd0,0) you should be OK
can you post menu.lst?
did you install grub to MBR of lappy?

jonp 03-06-2010 08:59 PM

I have a Toshiba Satelite P205D with a 250GB HD and 3072MB of ram.
I have a lot of space for the SuSE distro that I am pleased with however, I did want to install and try other distro's WITHOUT putting them on my main HDD.
I am not familiar with 'Plop' so I will look it up and give it a try following your suggestions - thanks.
GRUB2 is already on the laptop, and the install process was, I suppose, the 'default' which also put it on the USB hard drive.The drive 'selection' menu shows the USB as a separate HDD but it will not boot from it - I have to select the main laptop drive which shows the Linux variants and my Windows partition. Strangely however, without the USB drive connected, I get an error message 'drive not recognized'

Thanks for the help, I will give this 'Plop' a try.

paulsm4 03-06-2010 09:16 PM

Running any OS from a USB hard drive is generally a Bad Idea.

Strong suggestion:
1. Dual boot the main OS's you want
... and/or ...
2. Use VM's of any alternate OS's you want (run the VM's from hard disk; *not* external USB disk)
... and ...
3. Use your USB for external/archival storage


jonp 03-07-2010 07:09 AM

Thanks for the response paulsm4,I have no doubt that you are exactly right.
On thinking further about putting the OS on a USB drive, it probably is even more 'unsafe' than putting it on the main (internal) drive.
I am not skilled with the Linux file system but I have the urge to continue to 'tweak' because I make so many mistakes and learn a lot
in the painful process of correction!
I have tried a few suggestions - that have not worked out, so I will now using the the USB as a Backup drive.
Thanks again,I know you have offered very sound advice.


paulsm4 03-07-2010 01:28 PM

Hi -


but I have the urge to continue to 'tweak' because I make so many mistakes and learn a lot in the painful process of correction!
That's a very *positive* trait - I commend you!

You definitely want to experiment with "VM's" - they're perfect for setting up "virtual labs" and experimenting.

You have many choices, including Xen, VMWare, QEMU and Virtual Box (aka VBox).

For example, if your primary OS was Windows, you could:

1. Download VMWare Player or VMWare Server (both free) from here:

2. Download a completely pre-installed, pre-configured version of Ubuntu server from here:
'Hope that helps .. PSM

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