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So I worked out a proper way to partition the external hard drive (see link below) and do the right partitions for ubuntu. However during the install not far from the end, it says the grub or boot loader failed to install.

I try selecting sdb1 partition of the external hard drive which I selected for /boot (which sounds obvious to do that with...) but still fatal errors and can't install. I'm using intel core 2 duo mac and booted into the install cd/dvd.

Here's the tutorial I found on this site: Install Ubuntu 11.04 on external hard disk

Like the tutorial I did it like this:

  • sdb1 was /boot, 258MB and ext2 file system
  • sdb2 was swap, 8GB (double my ram)
  • sdb3 was / for root, 10GB and ext4 file system
  • sdb4 was /home, my remainding space from 2TB and ext4 filesystem

Hope this helps you help me :)

Please need help :)

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this is my second post, first one (so far) is now on second page and that one i got further but made less partitions not with this tutorial and when it asked me to press enter to restart in the black screen it froze, now with THIS tutorial i get grub fatal error, and hoping if i get passed this with an answer i don't get a freeze on the black screen after installation again sigh, when does problems end? why doesn't ubuntu make it EASY to install to external hard drive.. constantly there are problems ") – David Robinson Feb 23 '12 at 6:31
bit annoyd no one has answered my two questions or tried to :( – David Robinson Feb 23 '12 at 8:37
One problem is you are referring us to a poorly written article by a new member, who doesn't seem to even read responses to his post. I'd advise you to be more careful about what advice you follow - of course, my advice is 100% safe. :) – Marty Fried Feb 23 '12 at 19:31
@MartyFried, ok, well i didn't check if he was a new member or not it looked pretty formal how he set it out and made things clear, just the steps could've been wong idk. – David Robinson Feb 24 '12 at 5:20

I think everyone is afraid of your question because it is a little complicated and not completely clear. But I will try to help you if you are willing to do a little work to help yourself; it seems like you are not afraid to learn, which may be part of your problem - you may be taking too big a bite (byte?). :)

My first recommendation is to forget about so many different partitions for now. It will just make it more complicated, and is probably not necessary, but if you decide later that it is, you can change it fairly easily.

About GRUB, as I understand it... There are two things to think about. The first is where the actual boot loader lives, and the other is where the rest of GRUB (and usually the OS files) lives. When you boot, the drive is not very smart, and all it wants is to be told where to go to find help in booting. So there is some small amount of code in what's called the MBR (master boot record) to accomplish this. There is a newer scheme used only by recent Windows systems, that use something called GPT, but I have no experience with this. Hopefully, you don't have newer versions of Windows on the drive. If so, be sure you have a Windows boot disk for recovery.

Anyway, the normal way to install GRUB is to install it to the MBR (sdb, not sdb1). Then, the rest of GRUB is installed in the OS partition (sdb1, in your case), and the MBR part is told to look there. If you install another version in a different partition, it will tell the MBR part to look in the new partition, and usually will copy the old settings to the new partition. But if you delete the new partition, it will no longer work until you tell the MBR part to go back to the old partition.

I have no idea how to deal with installing it to a partition like sdb1; I suspect that it will only work if you have something in the MBR that can chain load that partition, the way GRUB chains to Windows.

Let me know if you need more specific help. Also, there are bootable utility CDs you can make that can fix these problems automatically, but it's a good idea to understand basically what's happening first.

Hope this helps, but if not, let me know.

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that did not help at all, thanks for trying though. I did make it clear how and what happened, but anyways, i DID install grub to sdb, i did the partitions right following a good looking tutorial, UBUNTU failed (fatal error) to install grub to external hard drive, so i'm thinking ubuntu in general fails when it comes to installing on hard drive i've tried so many things. – David Robinson Feb 24 '12 at 5:18
"that did not help at all". So, are you saying that nothing I said was useful, or it's all stuff you already know, or you didn't understand it, or what? Asking good questions is the key to getting good answers. Blindly following random tutorials is not the way to solve problems, so concluding that "Ubuntu in general fails when it comes to installing on hard drive" is not going to help you, or allow anyone else to help. However, I'll make one more obvious suggestion - are you booting from sdb? You obviously need to install GRUB in the MBR of your boot drive. – Marty Fried Feb 24 '12 at 17:25
OBVIOUSLY i did install grub (dk wtf mbr is, thought i did, i'm starting it course, but forgot it now) to sdb i made sure in advanced partitioning too is was SDB, NOT SDB1, listen, it doesn't matter if you say i blindly followed tutorials, sometimes that's the only way to learn, and compare tutorials and see which one would work more ore more easier to understand. I've installed it in lots of ways possible, what i don't know is that does the partitioning table HAVE to be in a certain order? like /boot, /, etc.. – David Robinson Feb 25 '12 at 2:28
and as i said about ubuntu failing, it technically does for external hard drive, i need a miracle, because it completes the installation right to the very end, on the black screen where it ejects my disc and tells me to remove installation media and hit enter to restart, i hit enter and it will freeze. i force my computer off then on, then i see my rEFIt triple boot, and linux shos a symbol to be on my external, but hen i click that to boot, it boots windows from my internal partition etc :/ – David Robinson Feb 25 '12 at 2:30
I'm sorry, but I'm having trouble understanding exactly what your problem is. If you do not know what the mbr is, you should not be partitioning a hard disk drive. Ubuntu cannot fathom what you want it to do in a case such as this, and it cannot know what drive your computer is going to try to boot without being told (by you). Sorry I could not seem to help you, but you will need to be willing to help yourself a little before anyone else can. – Marty Fried Feb 26 '12 at 5:23

Probably, you missed something on GRUB install location preference. There will be a drop down list in the main partition page for selecting where you want to install the GRUB (This one is separate from specifying the mount partitions). You have to choose your external hard disk (eg: 500 GB of your external hard disk name along with device number something like sdb). You have to choose this explicitly for GRUB to be installed in your external hard disk.

PS This has nothing to do with choosing /boot mount point. You have to explicitly choose GRUB installation location. sometimes the default will be your internal hard disk and this has to be changed to your external hard disk.

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