I just bought new computer hardware and I wanted to install Ubuntu fresh. I downloaded the latest 12.04 LTS .iso file and created a bootable USB stick (4 gb). I then selected 'install ubuntu' from the grub menu and proceeded to install Ubuntu onto a different 32 Gb flash drive. I partitioned the drive into 8 gb ext4 from /, 8 gb swap area, and the remainder on to ext4 /home. I did opt to select installing proprietary drivers. After what seemed like forever (probably 3-4 hrs but I fell asleep) the installation finally completed and I selected the 'restart now' button the next morning when I woke up. In the bios, I then switched to the 32 gb stick as my primary boot device and I don't get a grub menu upon startup, I get a single line error message like problem running operating system, but I can't remember the exact error message and I don't have access to the computer at the moment. I don't think the error message was "missing operating system" though. If I boot from the 4 gb flash drive I get the same thing as I got before before installing (I get a menu option to install ubuntu). What did I do wrong? Is booting from usb stick a bad idea? Why did it take so long to install? Mainly looking for a fix to the problem.
As for the install taking long, many USB sticks are simply one thing: slow. As for 8GB swap on USB, if that's ever used for anything it'll be even slower. It's better to have no swap at all if it's a slow USB media. Also ext4 (journaling in general) may be the wrong choice for USB, it requires extra write cycles (again, slow) and may considerably reduce the lifetime of the USB stick. I'd go with ext2 even if it means a wait time in case of fsck.
Installing on and booting from USB should work fine otherwise. Maybe Grub detected a wrong drive order; the device that's used for booting will usually be the first, i.e. what Grub sees as (hd0). In such a case you might have to install Grub manually (chroot after install, adapt the device.map, grub-install /dev/yourstick). But even so, Grub should at least show up and print an error message or something when you try to boot from the stick.
If the box has a CD drive, booting from CD might help avoid confusion regarding drive order for two USB sticks. Or any other way to get rid of the installation media stick before install (BootToRam or similar - sorry I'm not up to date if current install media offer such a feature).