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I have a few external hard drives (SSDs and Platters (SATA), is this possible that I can install Kubuntu 10.10 x64 or Ubuntu 10.10 x64 onto one of these external hard drives? My System supports booting off a usb, it will just give me a learning playground without spoiling my existing operating environment. I know I can install as Virtual machines, but installing U/Kubuntu on a External HDD and booting off it would be easier.

Will be grateful for your insights....and steps to do so. Thanks

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My first Kubuntu (Jaunty) was installed on an external HDD. I didn't notice any performance difference except that a black screen with a flahing cursor would stay for three minutes. I think that's a problem related to my desktop, because the same USB HDD did not have this problem on a laptop. –  Lekensteyn Mar 16 '11 at 12:58
    
Only word of warning is that it would take MUCH longer to start Ubuntu, Ubuntu would run slower, and programs would start slower and run slower. The benefits are more hard drive space, portability, no default operating system that boots. Just follow the different guides on this question, the Ubuntu Live USB creater is very good, but I'm not sure if it will work "out-of-the-box" with a external hard drive, since it was designed for flashdrives! Hope this helps!! –  Michael May 27 '11 at 15:13
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4 Answers 4

Installing Ubuntu Linux to an External Drive

To start the process of running Ubuntu/Linux off of a external hard drive connected via USB then it's actually quite simple to do. Here are the steps, or rather, the steps I took.

Please Note: The following steps were tested using Ubuntu Version 9.10, but has not been tested with the later versions. Use at your own risk & discretion.

What You Will Need

  1. A Computer with Internet access.
  2. A LiveCD or LiveUSB with Ubuntu.
  3. An external Hard Drive with USB capability.

What To Do

  1. Open up your computer and remove the Hard Drive.
  2. Plug in your external USB Hard Drive via the USB cable.
  3. Stick in your LiveUSB or LiveCD and then boot up your PC.
  4. Open up the boot menu, and choose to boot from the LiveCD/LiveUSB.
  5. During the installation process you should your external hard drive listed, install Ubuntu to that.
  6. Finish the installation process, turn off your PC, and put your other hard drive back into your computer.
  7. Reboot your computer, go to the boot menu and select your external hard drive and attempt to boot from it. If it does congratulations, you now have an external hard drive with a full fledged Operating System on it.
  8. Enjoy your external hard drive running Ubuntu/Linux! Please do let me know if this helps you! If not let me know about that too. :)
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You can use the built in Ubuntu USB Creator, or unetbootin, which will give you a list of dozens of linux distros that you can pick to automatically download and create a live USB for you. There are other applications for creating live USB's, but in my experience, these two have been the best for me.

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You can use Ubuntu Live USB creator which is very good and simple to use. It is already included in Ubuntu. (System -> Administration -> USB creator) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu_Live_USB_creator

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See "Installing Ubuntu 7.04 to a USB Hard Drive" - http://www.pendrivelinux.com/installing-ubuntu-to-a-usb-hard-drive/

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Thank you for your reply, Will give this a try and update here, I remember that I did tried an install once of Ubuntu 10.04 on a EXT-USB Drive, upon finishing install, it gave me grub error and I gave up, Will try the above method and see if that helps. –  rihatum Jan 14 '11 at 9:27
    
Yep, sometimes you must manually tweak grub's configuration - which can easily be overwhelming -- especially with Grub2's new naming convention (sda0 is now sda1 thing). BWT you should keep in mind that using a swap-partition on an SSD can reduce it's lifespan (this topic is still controversial though): superuser.com/questions/51724/… –  Onedinkenedi Mar 19 '11 at 12:21
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