October 31, 2011

Is there a way that I can install Linux on my external hard drive so that I can boot from it?

I am using a Toshiba HB505 netbook and have a 1TB SeaGate FreeAgent external. What version of Linux can I use and what installer do I need?

Answer to the question

Fyi, it can be a problem installing Linux Mint 17.3 on "newer"(post-2009) HDD that r 250GB or above in capacity bc of newer HDD technology = partitions not properly aligned with the disk. Something to do with 512 bytes data blocks in older HDD(= came in 160GB or less) n 4096 bytes data blocks in newer HDD. Eg the error message during installation = "... offset of 3584 bytes from minimum alignment ..."


For anyone who gets the error message during install of Linux Mint 17.3 on a modern external/USB HDD, u need to first use GParted to realign the hard disk, ie delete the whole old partition n create the 1st new partition meant for the / or root partition(eg 20GB in size), with 1 MiB(= the default value) at the "beginning of this space" n 0 MiB at the "end of this space", ensure "MiB" alignment box is checked(= do not select "cylinder"), set as Primary partition n format to fat32.
....... When creating the new 2nd partition meant for the home partition(eg 30GB in size), set 0 MiB for both the beginning n end of this space, Primary partition n format to fat32.
....... If u hv less than 4GB of RAM, u can also create a new 3rd partition for swap area(eg set as 2GB in size) or virtual memory/RAM on the hard disk, like for the home partition above.

Only then, can u proceed with the Install via the Live DVD or USB-stick. After clicking "Something else", click the 1st partition that u had created earlier with GParted, click "Change", click "ext 4 file system", click "/" for Mount point, n so on.
....... Ensure that the device for the bootloader is set to the external HDD, eg /dev/sdb or /dev/sdc. The cptr's internal HDD/SSD is usually identified as /dev/sda.

I hv just successfully installed LM 17.3 on a "modern" 250GB external/USB HDD which initially had the above error message about the 1st / or root partition not properly aligned with the HDD during install = could not proceed with the install.

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Probably you can simulate a "Live USB"...

Probably you can simulate a "Live USB"
So instead of the USB you have a HDD...
You can get whatever version or distribution, try fedora !
To create it, If you're on linux than use "startup disk creator" if not use LILI or Universal USB Installer.
Haven't tried with a hdd before...

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If your netbook can boot from USB you are all set to go. Any distro should...

If your netbook can boot from USB you are all set to go. Any distro should work. Easiest way is probably to plug your external HD into a full desktoop or laptop computer then boot that computer with a LiveCD of the distro you want to install e.g Linux Mint.

Once that computer boots into the LiveCD desktop. Click the install icon and be sure to select your connected USB external drive as the drive to install the OS. Make sure to select the same drive as the place to install the bootloader.

Alternatively. INstall to a USB stick right from your netbook and then boot the netbook into the distro and install to the USB drive. That way you have a bootable USB stick. (you may not even need to install to the drive!) see this thread

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