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I have an old laptop that I want to use for watching TV, etc., but the screen is broken and I can't see what I'm doing in the boot menu.

My solution to the problem is to install Ubuntu to the HDD from a different computer, and then install this hard drive into the old laptop. I have been unable to do this. Do you have any suggestions?

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    I don't see anything I can answer except that I can inform you I have done this several times (with working systems ;) ): prepare a disk @home and insert it into another system elsewhere. Only 1 thing to consider: do NOT install 3rd party drivers if that other system has other hardware (ie. video: intel vs. nvidia vs. amd). – Rinzwind Jan 14 '18 at 11:51
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    Yes it is possible to install Ubuntu in one computer and move the drive to another computer (or to use an external drive) and run Ubuntu in another computer. It will often work (but not always, the hardware might be too different). You should avoid proprietary drivers (for example for graphics and wifi). The following link might help, askubuntu.com/questions/786986/boot-ubuntu-from-external-drive/… ; An alternative that is more portable is a persistent live system (but not as stable). See this link, help.ubuntu.com/community/mkusb/persistent – sudodus Jan 14 '18 at 11:53
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    Oh and you can also use an external display to install Ubuntu. Just keep the lid closed. – Rinzwind Jan 14 '18 at 13:06
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Installed Ubuntu is portable

Yes it is possible to install Ubuntu in one computer and move the drive to another computer (or to use an external drive) and run Ubuntu in another computer. It will often work (but not always, the hardware might be too different).

You should avoid proprietary drivers (for example for graphics and wifi). The following link and links from it might help you see what to do and what to avoid,

Boot Ubuntu from external drive

  • In principle, you can install Ubuntu 'as usual', except that it can cause problems, if other drives (hard disk drives or SSDs) are connected during the installation, particularly in UEFI mode.

  • The installed system will be created for the boot mode, in which it was created. So if you intend to run your target computer (the laptop with a damaged screen) in UEFI mode, you should boot the other computer in UEFI mode and install when running in that mode. And boot in BIOS mode (alias CSM alias legacy mode) to make the installed system if you intend to run your target computer in BIOS mode.

  • If a proprietary driver is necessary, it is best to install it after the drive has been moved to the computer, where it is to be used. In order to prepare for proprietary graphics, you may add the boot option nomodeset to the default menuentry before moving the drive to the target computer.

Persistent live system

Alternative, if the computers are too different, so that a system installed in one computer does not work in the other computer:

A persistent live system

  • is more portable (boots and works in more computers)
  • causes less wear of the drive
  • is not as stable (is easier to damage)
  • can not be completely updated & upgraded (compared to an installed system)

See this link,

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/mkusb

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/mkusb/persistent

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The trouble with installing on another machine is that the hardware recognition will be for that other machine and some things like WiFi and the built-in display may not work properly once you swap back to the laptop. It would be best to connect to the TV and use the TV as your display during installation. If you connect to the TV with a VGA cable vs an HDMI cable, you might have an easier time using it as a display.

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