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I installed Ubuntu 11.10 to a 16gb USB drive (Kingston DataTraveller G3), I know it is fully functional as I have tested after disconnecting my HDD.

My BIOS has all other devices in a higher priority than the HDD, with the USB HDD as the first. It boots fine without stalling when the HDD is out, yet when in, the USB drive is completely ignored.

I am aware this may be an issue unique to my hardware (eMachines-E525) or software/BIOS; is there anything I can config in the USB installation to make the BIOS recognise it?

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This sentence is a bit hard to understand: "My BIOS has all other ports in higher priority in the boot list too." - could you clarify please? Your USB drive should have the highest priority if you want to boot from USB. –  Sergey Apr 19 '12 at 23:59
    
Apologies. Yes, my USB is the highest priority; along every other device. –  Vjba Apr 20 '12 at 0:03
    
I'm pretty sure this is some BIOS mis-configuration (provided that the machine boots from USB if the HDD is not connected). Can you make some photos of your screen with BIOS configuration page and post them? –  Sergey Apr 20 '12 at 0:32
    
imgur.com/BgdZg –  Vjba Apr 20 '12 at 0:44
    
Did you take this photo with the USB drive inserted? You may notice that all devices which are present/seen by BIOS have their names shown in that menu, and devices which are not present (IDE2 and all USB entries) have just labels. In my experience, some BIOSes tend to "forget" about an USB drive once you disconnect it - i.e. you need to connect the drive, go to BIOS setup, make the drive first in the list, save settings and reboot without disconnecting the drive. Once you pulled it out, you need to repeat the process. –  Sergey Apr 20 '12 at 0:54

2 Answers 2

If your BIOS is configured to boot from USB drives before the main hard disk but fails to do so, then this is a BIOS problem.

I would suggest checking the manufacturer's support web site to see if there are any BIOS upgrades: if you are lucky, they might have addressed the problem in an update.

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I researched this and it appears there is an upgrade, I'm waiting for some extra info from their support team right now. If I get and progress and solve the problem I'll update. Thank you both for your quick responses and support. –  Vjba Apr 20 '12 at 11:57

Somewhere in your (USB) boot sequence you are referring to /dev/sda*n* whereas you should refer to the disks UUID to optionally boot from an external disk. This is probably caused by the way you installed the OS on the USB disk. Did you copy a disk image directly to the USB disk? Was the USB disk the only disk on the system while you were installing the OS?

What does grep -i root= /boot/grub/menu.lst | grep -v ^# print? On both fixed drive and USB drive.

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Wouldn't using the UUID cause it to only boot from a particular USB drive, rather than any USB drive that is present? –  Marty Fried May 8 '12 at 19:51
    
UUID refers to the filesystem, not so much the hardware device. –  jippie May 8 '12 at 19:56
    
My point was that using a UUID seems to me to imply that it will only boot from that one particular device, and if you insert a different device, then you will need set it up. This might be handy, but it isn't very intuitive; it doesn't follow the method used for CD, for example, where any CD will boot when inserted. –  Marty Fried May 8 '12 at 20:54
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You can set it up with /dev/sdb1, but that implies similar issues if the second harddisk isn't recognized as sdb or the first partition isn't the correct one to boot from. –  jippie May 8 '12 at 21:00
    
Yes, I guess I do forget that USB devices are getting much bigger, and partitions may be more common than I'm used to. –  Marty Fried May 9 '12 at 0:48

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