I own a macbook pro Retina 15inch Mid-2014 and I would like to install Ubuntu (16.04 or 16.10) on an external SSD drive I bought (samsung T3)

I gave it a try with the following steps :

  • Create live USB using unetbootin with ubuntu gnome 16.10
  • Boot from liveUSB and select "install ubuntu"
  • I created the following partitions on the external SSD:

    120gb exfat4 with mount point "/"

    6gb for swap

    rest is for file storage in exFat

  • I selected dev/sda (i.e. the samsung external SSD) as the device for bootloader installation

I succeeded in installing and booting. However, I encountered the following problems :

  • The MACOS X default bootloader had been deleted which I don't want to. This was the point for selecting the external SSD as the device for bootloader i.e. I would like the macbook to boot on MACOS by default when the SSD is not plugged. Ideally, I would like this SSD to be bootable on my macbook as well as on other computers e.g. running windows for examples. Is this possible ?

  • The ubuntu system did not work properly e.g. the keyboard keys controlling the screen brightness did not work whereas when testing ubuntu from the liveUSB (not installing the system just running it from the USB) they worked. I don't get that. Why does it work when running ubuntu from the USB and not when actually installing it on the SSD?

  • The ubuntu system freezes if I try to run the introductory ubuntu videos e.g. how to launch applications. However, when not doing so, the system seems to run fine.

Given the problems encountered hereabove and my will, here are the questions I have :

  • Is the idea of installing Ubuntu on a SSD and boot it from any computer impossible? I have read several problems with that option notably problems with nvidia drivers. Notably http://www.rodsbooks.com/ubuntu-efi/ speaks about that when using different booting options.

  • Is the fact that the macbook has two video cards a problem for ubuntu ? How is ubuntu dealing with that ? How can I control that ?

thank you for your support!


"Is the idea of installing Ubuntu on a SSD and boot it from any computer impossible?"

Short Answer: YES

Long Answer

30 years ago you could take any MS-DOS 1.10 bootable Floppy Disc and use it on 99% of the personal computers out there.

Today in Linux (and Windows) every boot drive is custom configured with different drivers for:

  • WiFi (Broadcom, Intel, etc)
  • Drives (HDD and SSD)
  • Display Drivers (ie Intel, Nvidia, AMD)
  • Monitors (different resolutions and refresh rates)
  • Keyboards
  • Mice
  • Sound Cards

So it is impossible to have a bootable USB external SSD that works on all computers.

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