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I know this question sort of has been answered elsewhere, notably, here:

Install Ubuntu to Boot from Partition on external Hard Drive

except that i am having an error that i do not know what to do with.

I am getting a "Failed to unmount partitions" on "/cdrom" right after partitioning the usb hard drive.

I've Googled this error without finding an accurate match, i have found errors related to CD-ROM on server editions of ubuntu except that the fix doesn't apply to me (no files to rename and path is different)

I have to admit I am not savvy enough with ubuntu to know how to troubleshoot this error.

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Please help us help you by providing the output of sudo fdisk -l and lsusb. Thank you! – Elder Geek Jun 17 '14 at 13:42
As far as I can remember I got a similar error when I installed Ubuntu on my computer. Is there an option to somehow continue without unmounting the partition? It think that it is not necessary to unmount partitions on /cdrom, but I could be wrong. (As far as I can remember I was warned that I could not install Ubuntu on the device with mounted partitions which should not be a problem here) – Kai Jul 8 '14 at 20:16

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