My computer has a relatively small hdd (80Gb), but I also just recently got a hdd enclosure for an old hdd, and it can hold 60Gb. I'm running out of room on my internal hdd (the 80Gb one), and so I decided I should move my system files to the external (the 60Gb one) and keep my /home on the internal, since it's the larger portion of all my files (50Gb out of ~75Gb).

I know there are ways to move your /home to a separate partition, but I don't think I can move system files because they're configured specifically for my internal hdd and such, and moving them would essentially break my install.

Is there a way to move my ubuntu installation to my external hdd, leaving my /home on my internal hdd? Or is doing a fresh install the best/only method for achieving this?

System Info:

  • Xubuntu 12.10
  • 80Gb Internal Hard Drive
  • 60Gb External Hard Drive
  • Where are you getting those HDDs? I don't think any 60Gb HDDs were produced in the last 10 years :) – Sergey Jan 2 '13 at 2:27
  • Haha, I figured someone would ask about my peculiar hardware. My current computer is from 2005 (Dell XPS 400), and the 60Gb hdd is from an old Dell 2350, which is in fact from about 11 years ago or so. The only reason I still have this crappy hardware is because I'm currently out of cash, and my summer job pays quite poorly; I'm also a tightwad, and I try to reuse old hardware as much as is reasonable. – DaimyoKirby Jan 2 '13 at 2:32
  • The internal hard drive is an IDE hard drive that is connected to the primary IDE controller, and CD/DVD device is attached to the secondary IDE controller? Or is it both devices connected on the primary controller? Or, are we talking SATA? – user8290 Jan 2 '13 at 2:42
  • My internal hard drive is SATA, and the external hard drive is IDE. There is currently one CD drive and one CD/DVD drive plugged in - do CD drives use the same IDE cables as hard drives? – DaimyoKirby Jan 2 '13 at 2:50
  • @DaimyoKirby: CD/DVD drives may be either IDE or SATA, just like HDDs. Just open the case and have a look. Not like your warranty is going to be voided :) – Sergey Jan 2 '13 at 3:01

Well, if you want to, you can move your system to another hard drive - all you need to do is, as root, to copy all the root-level directories to the new location making sure you keep permissions. You should not copy /dev/, /proc and /sys because they're just mount-points for kernel filesystems, just create empty directories. Then you just re-install the bootloader. Ahh, and edit the /etc/fstab on the new partition. Easy-peasy if you have basic understanding of how the system works.

However, the resulting system will be quite fragile I think - it'll only boot if your external drive is plugged in (and also subject to the machine being able to boot from an external USB hard drive at all)

What I would do is to keep the system as it is, but off-load some directories from your home directory to the external drive. Say, if you have a lot of videos in your Videos folder, you can move them all to a folder on your external hard drive and then replace your original Videos folder with a symlink to the new location.

This way you'll be able to better utilize both hard drives and your machine won't be totally dependent on the external drive being plugged in.

What I would also do is to throw away the HDD enclosure, open the computer case and attach the second HDD normally with an IDE/SATA cable - this is much more reliable than the whole external USB thing. Then you'll have two internal drives. If you go this route and you're feeling adventurous, you can experiment with setting up LVM, which would allow you to have a continuous 140Gb partition and do not worry about balancing your files between two drives.

  • Will it affect an LVM setup if one drive is SATA and the other is IDE, since IDE is slower, in any significant way? – DaimyoKirby Jan 2 '13 at 3:13
  • @DaimyoKirby: I don't think it will affect it. I also don't think the drives' speeds are radically different. – Sergey Jan 2 '13 at 3:15
  • Ok then. I'm going to wait until I have another big break from school to mess around with LVM, since that seems like a pretty awesome option. Thanks for the help, this was quite enlightening! – DaimyoKirby Jan 2 '13 at 3:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.