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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.
Has it been a few days since I replied to your thread? Don't panic! I'm usually very busy and may forget a post if I'm extra busy (or it might just take me a while to be able to do a decent reply). If you still need help and are awaiting my reply after a few days, PM me about it.

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