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Ok I've got a live USB which I can load the ubuntu 12.10 installer from so that's no problem. I am very cautious about losing files and I don't have much space on my computer anyway so I am going to install ubuntu to my 300 gig portable hard drive.

Here's the deal:

My computer has 2 internal drives: C: 500 gigabytes D: 1000 gigabytes

And then my 300 gig portable hard drive has 2 partitions: M: My Stuff - 211 gigabytes NTFS P: Ubuntu (currently blank) - 86 gigabytes NTFS (I tried formatting it as ext4 but windows couldn't detect it anymore so I changed it back. I know it needs to be ext4 for ubuntu to boot though)

Now I want to boot my computer from the USB and install ubuntu to the portable hard drive on the 86 gigabyte partition without touching my main 2 hard drives or the 200 gig partition on my portable have drive. Is it possible to install ubuntu 12.10 to this Ubuntu partition and get it to boot correctly? If so please tell me step by step how to achieve this installation without corrupting my computers boot loader.

Thanks in advance ;)

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2 Answers 2

Yes, it is possible to do so. First of all install Ubuntu simply on your 300Gig partition. Notice that this will change all boot loaders. So then you have to fix boot loader as you like. To do so:

  1. If you do not have any other ext partitions on your 500Gig or 1000Gig hard disks then you have to fix your MBR using some tools in hirenCD. Download HirenCD, burn it to a blank disk, remove 300Gig hard disk from your system, reboot your system with HirenCD and find Fix MBR.
    every time that you want to boot to ubuntu you must change your first boot device from bios.

  2. If you have some other ext partitions on your 500Gig or 1000Gig hard disks then try to install grub on one of them. This can be done with a live ubuntu using sudo grub-install --boot-directory=/media/extPartitionThatYouHaveMounted sda. (sda is important for you, in your case it might be sdb or sdc).
    It is not needed to change first boot device from bios each time.

  3. I think that it is possible to install grub on some ntfs partitions. There we have grub for dos, it is the same grub, but for windows based partitions. This would be like option 2.

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You can boot from your liveUSB or liveDVD, then connect your portable usb hard disk. It should most probably be located at /dev/sdb to be sure open a terminal and type sudo fdisk -l and take note of the 86Gb partition that you want to use for Ubuntu.

Launch the installation and make sure to install on /dev/sdbx where sdbx stands for your partition (example sdb2). When it arrives at the grub bootloader installation, select /dev/sdb (without the partition number).

This way when you boot from the external drive it will use the bootloader on the eternal drive. You do not need to have Grub installed on your internal hard drives.

I do have an external hard drive with Linux and an NTFS partition similar to what you wish and it works fine.

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