I've been trying to get Ubuntu 10.04-LTS 32-bit desktop installed onto a 250GB FreeAgent Go drive from Seagate.

I've been able to install onto a USB flash drive and boot successfully from this. I have installed Ubuntu onto the jump drive using Universal USB Installer, and this was a total success in terms of getting Ubuntu to run off a flash drive. I was unable to accomplish this with the portable HDD.

I then, following instructions, attempted to install the OS onto the HDD once booted up from the flash drive. After installing the OS on the HDD, the computer would simply not load the OS when the HDD medium was selected for booting from.

However, as there is no System-> Preferences-> Removable Drives and Media I could not complete this step. Is this vital? How do I do this under Ubuntu 10.04?

I have formmated the MBR on the HDD and repeated the above, still with no success.

I have also browsed some forums that mention there may be something related to spin-up speeds, but nothing explained in detail the issue or how to solve it, and I'm not familiar enough with system booting to understand if this could be an issue.

Basically, what I'm trying to do is get Ubuntu to boot off the HDD, I've attempted several things, and the result is, after selecting the HDD from BIOS, the OS never starts booting (after waiting upwards of ten minutes). I just have a white cursor blinking. I can always get it to boot from the jump drive.

Related question

  • Curious: are you able to use the universal usb installer to install ubulive onto the external hdd? I know it's not what you want, but it would be a good test. Fwiw, I ran off an external usb disk for quite some time without any problem (besides waking from hibernation without the disk plugged in).
    – djeikyb
    Feb 22, 2011 at 0:09
  • @djeikyb I attempted installing Universal to install and received the vague message: drive will not be bootable
    – Incognito
    Feb 22, 2011 at 0:44
  • @user11239 that sounds like you didn't install into MBR of the external? Thats odd. I have a Seagate and its bootable (although I didn't try it on Ubuntu). Try a grub-install manually?
    – mathepic
    Feb 22, 2011 at 0:54
  • Are you using BIOS settings to boot, or is there an F key that you manually choose which device to boot from? Do you see GRUB, or absolutely nothing?
    – djeikyb
    Feb 22, 2011 at 1:14
  • @djeikyb It's a BIOS menu, it's the the screen and is HP branded which says "press escape for boot menu". I'm a bit frustrated using windows to try and access the drive-- right now it won't read the thing with explorer or anything, and booting from the flash-USB seems to no longer function.
    – Incognito
    Feb 22, 2011 at 1:22

2 Answers 2


The instructions you used are ancient, your incomplete step is likely irrelevant now. I don't see anything else wrong with the process. I'm thinking grub wasn't properly installed. What you'll need to do is boot into a live environment and install grub. This guide has the relevant info:


For reference, the command you need to run is:

sudo grub-install --root-directory=/media/0d104aff-ec8c-44c8-b811-92b993823444 /dev/sda

You just need to replace the long 0d104* string and sda with the UUID and /dev name (respectively) for your system. You can find the info by matching the name in /media with the output of df.

  • The installer defaults to installing grub to sda like above. If sda is your internal drive and sdb is the external ( likely ) then you need to change the destination to sdb.
    – psusi
    Feb 22, 2011 at 14:33
  • There's a strange issue where the booting of the OS wouldn't occur using "install OS to Drive", which configured it with your standard partition table. Once I formatted the entire drive to FAT32 I was able to get pendrivelinux's installer to work on it. I suspect that for some reason NTFS or even exFAT was preventing boot. If GRUB had been able to launch it would have resolved the issue. I have it working now and don't have another drive to play around with to help answer further questions about the issue. Thank you for the help, this answer explained the issue being the bootloader on the FS
    – Incognito
    Feb 22, 2011 at 15:14

You can do a full install on a portable HD, like you would do a regular install on your regular HD, except you would select your portable HD instead. The downside to doing it this way is that you can't take it to another computer plug it in, and then use it, unless the hardware is EXACTLY the same.

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