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How to Boot to USB (Linux or Windows)

This is a discussion on How to Boot to USB (Linux or Windows) within the Linux Support forums, part of the Tech Support Forum category. Could anyone help with this? I need to boot my PC to an external USB2 hard drive, with either Linux


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Old 06-11-2007, 11:15 AM   #1
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Could anyone help with this?

I need to boot my PC to an external USB2 hard drive, with either Linux or WinXP. I have a late DELL with an Intel MB that supports booting to USB.

Is this possible? And is it just a simple matter of installing the operating system to the USB drive and then selecting boot to USB on startup?

Sorry if this is a stupid question.

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Old 06-11-2007, 11:36 AM   #2
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Mepis 6.5 appears to support booting to USB using their onthego technique .. primarily aimed at allowing a user to "take his mepis" and boot from another PC .. and look like his own setup on his own PC. I assume it's something like a live CD .. but booting from USB and with predefined installed programs, backgrounds etc ..

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Old 07-10-2007, 01:55 PM   #3
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Another good "boot from usb" dristro is DSL (Damn Small Linux) or Puppy. Look at www.distrowatch.com for more information on those distributions.
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Old 07-11-2007, 03:54 AM   #4
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PCLinuxOS - www.pclinuxos.com
Supports booting from USB
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Old 07-12-2007, 10:12 AM   #5
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As long as your computer supports booting to USB and the option is set in the BIOS you should be able to boot to a USB drive. You'll need to make sure the external drive has a bootloader installed on it and that it's set to boot before the internal hard drive.

When I was installing Gentoo on my laptop, I first set up an install on my external hard drive so I could work out any bugs before moving it over to my internal drive. After I was able to rsync it between the two drives. You should be able to get GRUB to work, but there are other bootloaders that you could use (such as syslinux). I don't remember all of the details of how I configured grub.conf, but if you need help I could get my external drive out and see if the config file helps me remember everything.

I'm also booting Knoppix from a USB flash drive. For that I'm using syslinux (although I'm considering switching to GRUB).


Basically, any distribution should work as long as your BIOS and bootloader are configured correctly.

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