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I bought a Samsung series 5 notebook and a very strange thing happened: I installed Ubuntu 11.10 from a usb pen drive but when I restarted (I cleared the existing partitions) I stopped being able to boot from any USB device, whatever I change at BIOS, it always goes straight to GRUB2.

Just to add something to the mix, now I can't boot properly after upgrading to Precise (separate question)

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Can't you press F12 during boot to bring up the boot menu and select the USB drive as the boot device that way? (On my relatively ancient desktop the USB drive is listed in the +Harddrives section of the boot menu.) If your USB pen drive does not show up, have you verified that it works on another system? – irrational John Apr 17 '12 at 1:01
Does your machine have a tradiotional BIOS or UEFI? – Chris May 17 '12 at 4:28
Not really sure if it's UEFI but I figured it out eventually: it seems it had to do with the bios expecting the main operating system was a Windows, I solved it tweaking the bios options. I'll post a response to this post with the solution later (I'll have to go back to the bios to recheck those options) – t3mujin May 18 '12 at 16:46

Make sure USB drive comes first in the list of boot devices in your BIOS settings. In some BIOSes unplugging the USB drives removes it from the list of boot devices so you need to do this every time you want to boot from USB, with your flash drive plugged in when you open BIOS setup.

Ubuntu, or any other OS, has absolutely no control over the early stages of boot process - basically, your BIOS decides which device to boot from before it invokes GRUB or any code from Ubuntu.

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I have similar problem and it's not BIOS or any other settings problem, but installation USB device and installation process itself.

Somehow after install, files on pendrive changes and pendrive is no longer bootable. Exporting Ubuntu to the same pendrive again resolves problem (or workaround).

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