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Old 01-24-2006, 04:48 AM   #1
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Registered: Jan 2006
Distribution: still lookin' for...
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Install linux on USB HDD

well, i searched this forum to & fro but i didn't find anything really helpful (at least, not resolutive )...
after an intense fight i managed to install linux on an USB HDD: the distro is mandriva 2006 and lilo the bootloader.
After the successful installation it booted, but "obviously" in few seconds it raised the kernel panic error
(as far as i understood, due to USB slowy connection that goes out of sync)

in this forum found what i needed... but some steps are unclear to me (obviously noob :P ): i tried to follow this sort of how to :
Originally Posted by Izkhandar
That is indeed true. When installing Fedora, enter
expert mode, that will load (amongst other things)
the usb modules that will allow to detect your usb
disk, then install as "usual".
Later, once installation is "done", you will have to
boot the computer with the install CD (or rescue CD
if you have it) in expert rescue mode (that is, you
will give 'expert' and 'rescue' as parameters to the
boot loader). Mount your usb drive and navigate to
your /boot directory/partition. You will have to make
a new initrd file, one including the usb modules. To
do that, run the following:

mkinitrd --with-usb --preload=ehci-hcd --preload=usb-storage --preload=scsi_mod --preload=sd_mod ./usbinitrd-X.X.XX-X.XXXX_LLL X.X.XX-X.XXXX_LLL

where X.X.XX.-X.XXXX_LLL is your kernel's version
(for example 2.6.11-1.1369_FC4). If you don't know
what is your kernel version run:

uname -r

(Both command lines could be combined as follows:

mkinitrd --with-usb --preload=ehci-hcd --preload=usb-storage --preload=scsi_mod --preload=sd_mod ./usbinitrd-`uname -r` `uname -r`


I've run Fedora in a makeshift portable usb Hardrive
I assembled a little while ago, with no complications,
just plug the usb cord into a free computer and go :-).

As far as I know, this should work no matter if your
usb drive is an usb hardrive or an usb stick, etc.
In the case of a hardrive, depending on the bios of
the "host" computer you may need to have grub/lilo/??
on a usb stick or in a boot diskette. Thus it will be a
good idea if you made a "boot diskette".
I hope this helps,
but, maybe due to my handicap, maybe due to the different distro, i didn't manage to succeed
is there anyone who has a lot of patience and will to help me ?
thank you in advance,
Old 01-24-2006, 08:44 AM   #2
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up ? help plz
Old 02-16-2006, 10:29 PM   #3
Registered: Apr 2005
Location: Sacramento, California
Distribution: Ubuntu 8.04, Fedora 10
Posts: 37

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I've been trying this for a long time. The only success I've had is installing Feather to a Cruizer Mini 256KB USB-FD and (better) Ubuntu to a 80GB USB-HDD.
Old 12-13-2006, 09:59 PM   #4
Registered: Dec 2006
Posts: 36

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Originally Posted by yekibud
I've been trying this for a long time. The only success I've had is installing Feather to a Cruizer Mini 256KB USB-FD and (better) Ubuntu to a 80GB USB-HDD.
I have been trying for several days and have succeeded in getting Puppy on USb flash drive where it boots and runs fine. I used the master installer on Puppy live Linux CD for two different 256 mb flash drives.

I finally got Kubuntu to install and boot from a USB external Western Digital Passport hard drive. No additions or tweaking needed from an install with Kubuntu Live CD. Several other distros wouldn't run on my new Acer laaptop, some wouldn't install to external hard drive and Mepis would istall but wouldn't boot. I tried seveal times to install Ubuntu 6.10 on external hard drive with no luck. Same with Puppy.

I think it is just trial and error till you find something that works on your machine unless you really understand this linux stuff and understand why things don't work and if your lucky, how to fix them.
Old 12-15-2006, 01:52 PM   #5
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Registered: Nov 2006
Distribution: FreeBSD 6.1, Debian Sarge 3.1r2
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Some times you have to fixit from the InitRD image. Try things like check for the existance of the USB root drive. May be you should poll around after loading the USB and SCSI modules.
Old 12-15-2006, 06:20 PM   #6
Registered: Nov 2006
Location: (Bristol or Coventry) (UK) or Malta
Distribution: openSUSE 11.0
Posts: 173

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i got a sata drive in a usb enclosure, and suse 10.1 worked well. Just normal installation procedure for me...


drives, install, usb

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