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I recently installed ubuntu 13.04 onto two partitions on my external hard drive. I didn't use the whole drive because I have other things on it. When I installed, I manually selected one partition for ext4 and the other for swap. This all worked fine but when I rebooted and selected the HD from the boot menu, all it showed was a flashing prompt.

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You can install Ubuntu to a USB or other external HD, but some computers can boot the external HD and some can't. For example, I have USB HD with a number of distros on it. My Lenovo T61 can boot these, while my HP DV6 gets the flashing prompt. From what I've read this depends on the bios. Some say increasing the time the bios waits for the disks to be ready (if you have that setting) helps. Others say using Plop instead of GRUB will take care of it since Plop doesn't use use the bios. I haven't tried that yet, so I can't provide a step by step. –  chaskes May 27 '13 at 19:11
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2 Answers

u should have a problem cause the system look for the MBR of the External HD and find no boot loader , u should install GRUB on the MBR of the Ext. HD or if u run windows 7 u can install EasyBCD and add another boot entry for ubuntu to boot it by windows boot loader , go to this page link and scroll down to the steps on how to do that

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if the BIOS is already booting first from usb devices

the "fix" is:

  1. plug the external drive to computer and wait until all partitions are mounted
  2. if you have a linux on your normal HDD do sudo update-grub
  3. boot to the external drive and from the external installation do sudo update-grub
  4. if you DONT have a linux on your normal HDD post here and we have to workout the solution it passes by a boot-repair disk or a live-cd
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I'm running windows. Also, the HD isn't under usb, its under hard drives –  Amja May 27 '13 at 16:58
    
@Amja the external ubuntu is trough usb ? your HD has ubuntu ? is your bootloader grub ? –  mf_ May 27 '13 at 17:09
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