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How do I boot a system on an external USB HD?

Guest Tomas

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I turn to You for help.


I do not have a computer, to store my music, etc I use en external USB multimedia HD. All the data I have to pass in cyber cafes.


To keep my work persistent at different places, I made my MCNLive FlashUSB. But my external drive had problems several times, and my USB Flash got damaged (I lost all my data on both) I decided to format one partition as ext3 and install copy of my data and the system there...


*** BTW the kept failing until I chosed the option of Custom partioning. I did not changed the partitions, but I did checked out the option SYNC to mount the ext3 partitions. It went much slower, but terminated with success.***


My problem now is how do I start the system from the external HD? I did install GRUB on /dev/sda, (obviously, I could not install it on /dev/hda..), but I do not think I can use it.


??? Is there a option to start a regular system (not live system) from the USB external HD??? (Possibly modifying the options on MCNLive Toronto CD at boot time??)




Thank You very much for help,


I was searching, but I did not find an answer...

Tomas Kaluza




I know that I can use the first partion of external HD and boot as LiveUSB (am doing it now), but I would rather ran the system regurarly from HD.

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I am completely lost, what you exactly want to do ... :unsure:



MCNLive is made to install and run in Live mode on an USB flash drive or an external HD.

How: read the howto page in a browser window when you run the LiveCD.


It is a LIVE system.


A normal (non live mode) installation to internal or external HD: use the Mandriva install DVD.

Edited by chris:b
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Well, thank You for reply. I will explain it again.

1. I did install the cd in LIVE mode on the external USB drive. And I can use it now. But the think is, that I keep having problems with the FAT32 partition, and I had to format it three times already, and every time I have lost all my data. I do not know if I have to format it again.


2. In a try to avoid the possible problems I performed a Harddrive install (using MCNLive, as I do not have Mandriva DVD) to my external drive. Only I could not install the boot loader, as I am using different computers in cyber cafes.


What I do not know now is how to run a system from /dev/sda2 without a bootloader installed...


Can I use the MCNLive CD to do it? (As they share the same kernel...) Can I use any other CD to do it?


That is my question.


If You can answer me, it will be a big help for me...




Tomas Kaluza

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so you have a normal installation on an external usb harddrive (not in live mode).

And you want to use it on different computers? Is this correct?


As far as I know this is not possible. Different computers -> different hardware.

You have done an installation for one specific hardware.

Only a live system has a dynamic hardware detection.


Second problem is the bootloader. You would need a very specific bootloader config (on a start cd and/or on the usb drive) to deal with different machines and their internal and external harddisks.

I don't know how to do this, sorry.

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Yes, right,

that is what I have. I was hoping that the hardware detection at boot could do fine for me. I am already tired of formating the FAT32 partition all over.


Thank You for Your time anyways..





I have found a think that might help me..


it sounds like a portable GRUB on a CD

... only I have to learn how to use it. :wall: :D


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Guest indianseason

One option for you could be to use create a live usb install to the external hard disk and create a really large persistent loop on the hard disk. This way you get the live system for hardware detection and the large capacity drive as well.


In fact you can do what I have done and edit the syslinux.cfg to make the persist option default.


A completely different option could be to install pclinuxos. It is very similar to mcnlive in the sense that it is based on mandriva (difference is that mcnlive is actually a mandriva install, while pclos makes a lot of changes). Pclos supports and encourages installation to usb hard disks.

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Well, folks, I am here...


Now I am writing to Your running MCNLive installed on an external HD.


I played a little bit with the LiveGRUB (see link above), I created my own entry, only thing I have to do is edit it before I can boot (specify correct HD - in my case hd1,1) the entry looks as follows:


title Mandriva2007.1

kernel $(grub_device)/boot/vmlinuz root=/dev/sda2

initrd $(grub_device)/boot/initrd.img



I have not tried it with the MCNLiveCD yet (but I think it sould work... not?)


And I have not tried it on different computers yet... :huh:


We shall see... ;)

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I could not boot here from MCNLiveCD directly.


What I created was a SuperGRUB liveCD with a puppy linux on it (es described on SuperGRUB webpage) and added the line for booting Mandriva...


And I am here, and now I can now mount /dev/sda1 as utf8 which I could not before... (I did not managed to do it using LiveUSB)


Now I turned off the sync option on discs as they were going really slowww. I shall see what happens...




See You for now...

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