Resolved - Running Linux Mint on external hard drive

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pfield25
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Resolved - Running Linux Mint on external hard drive

Post by pfield25 »

Hi all,

I have an older laptop, and although I am able to dual boot with windows and Linux I don't have enough space for my Linux partition to do much. Someone suggested I install Linux onto my external hard drive and run it from there - I've seen a lot of tutorials for Ubuntu but none for Mint. (I'm using a live USB containing Linux Mint 10)

I've tried unmounting my external HD as outlined in the Ubuntu tutorial, but its not working - I'm never able to unmount and change the size of the partitions.

Is there a tutorial for installing/running Linux Mint from external hard drive?

Thanks!
Last edited by pfield25 on Thu Mar 10, 2011 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bitmason
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Re: Running Linux Mint on external hard drive

Post by bitmason »

first off, is external hard drive visible in bios - is it an option in the boot menu?
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."
- Calvin & Hobbes

wayne128
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Re: Running Linux Mint on external hard drive

Post by wayne128 »

pfield25 wrote:Hi all,

I have an older laptop, and although I am able to dual boot with windows and Linux I don't have enough space for my Linux partition to do much. Someone suggested I install Linux onto my external hard drive and run it from there - I've seen a lot of tutorials for Ubuntu but none for Mint. (I'm using a live USB containing Linux Mint 10)

Is there a tutorial for installing/running Linux Mint from external hard drive?

Thanks!

Actually to install Linux OS onto the USB external OS drive, the procedure is almost the same.
That is:
1. As long as the computer can boot from USB drive
2. The Linux OS installer can find the USB drive.

Perhaps less known to people thus possible boot issues:
3, if you install onto USB OS drive when there are internal drives plus some other USB flash or drive, then it is important to know which drive boot order your target USB OS drive, lets say it is 'third boot drive". then all the grub reference to this 'third drive' will be /dev/sdc and so on.
As long as you do not change the boot order ( or this USB OS drive always remain as /dev/sdc) , then there is no problem on booting.

However, if you pull out this USB OS drive and plug into another computer, it might not boot up because the computer might not see it as 'third boot drive'.

So either you make some changes to the grub command lines ,
or make it to be 'first boot drive' and then always boot it by selecting any computer to boot from USB.
When you select computer to boot from USB, this USB OS drive would become 'first boot drive'.

Sometime, it is quite easy to achieve this 'first boot drive' if you install from DVD/CD, just unplug any internal drive, leaving the target USB OS drive as the only hard drive on the computer, then when you install from DVD/CD, the target USB OS drive will be 'first boot drive'.

I've tried unmounting my external HD as outlined in the Ubuntu tutorial, but its not working - I'm never able to unmount and change the size of the partitions.
When computer cannot unmount the external HD, one simple test is to use terminal to unmount it, command is
umount /dev/sdx

note the spelling is umount, no n.. not a mistake.
if this command also cannot unmount the external hard disk, perhaps some programs are using the HD and thus the OS is locking it.

pfield25
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Re: Running Linux Mint on external hard drive

Post by pfield25 »

Well, I was able to unmount and install Linux mint on my external hard drive, but when I attempt to boot from the USB drive its unable to find a bootable USB. Is this something I did wrong when installing the OS?

wayne128
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Re: Running Linux Mint on external hard drive

Post by wayne128 »

pfield25 wrote:Well, I was able to unmount and install Linux mint on my external hard drive, but when I attempt to boot from the USB drive its unable to find a bootable USB. Is this something I did wrong when installing the OS?
If your BIOS cannot find USB drive and thus cannot boot USB drive, you need to work on BIOS / IDE/SATA/Mother board side.
such as upgrade BIOS

Some old computer BIOS / hardware does not support booting USB.

pfield25
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Re: Running Linux Mint on external hard drive

Post by pfield25 »

It was able to boot from the live USB I used to install mint though, was there something I needed to specify in the installation on my external hard drive to make it bootable?

wayne128
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Re: Running Linux Mint on external hard drive

Post by wayne128 »

pfield25 wrote:It was able to boot from the live USB I used to install mint though, was there something I needed to specify in the installation on my external hard drive to make it bootable?
Since your computer can boot from USB , then it is likely you are seeing what I wrote on point 3.

Which means your USB OS drive was installed with a boot order that is some number other than first boot drive.

So now you can amend its grub menuentry to have their number changed to first boot drive.
Assume you had already install Grub2 on the MBR of the USB OS drive.

for example, this Mint menuentry is for partition 5
menuentry "LinuxMint GNU/Linux, with Linux 2.6.32-5-amd64 (on /dev/sda5)" --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
insmod part_msdos
insmod ext2
set root='(hd0,msdos5)'
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root c3b6d78b-48ef-4ae0-aef0-8f7fa4dd0994
linux /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.32-5-amd64 root=UUID=c3b6d78b-48ef-4ae0-aef0-8f7fa4dd0994 ro quiet
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.32-5-amd64
}
you need to change it to 1 and follow by a sudo update-grub
menuentry "LinuxMint GNU/Linux, with Linux 2.6.32-5-amd64 " --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os {
insmod part_msdos
insmod ext2
set root='(hd0,msdos1)'
search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root c3b6d78b-48ef-4ae0-aef0-8f7fa4dd0994
linux /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.32-5-amd64 root=UUID=c3b6d78b-48ef-4ae0-aef0-8f7fa4dd0994 ro quiet
initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.32-5-amd64
}

pfield25
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Re: Running Linux Mint on external hard drive

Post by pfield25 »

Got it working. Thanks!

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