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Can I "Try" Linux by installing to an external HDD

This may be a stupid question and maybe it means I shouldn't "Try" Linux at all, but is it possible? I have a 500GB external drive sitting around that's well over half empty, and if it is possible, it would make the transition smooth I think.


  • jabirali
    jabirali Posts: 157
    Yes, that should work fine.

    Note that some (older) computers don't support booting from USB devices though, you should check this in your BIOS. Installing and using Linux from the external harddrive should work fine anyway, but on computers that can't boot from USB devices, you would have to install a bootloader onto one of your internal harddrives in order to start up Linux.
  • orcephrye
    orcephrye Posts: 9
    Regarding the boot loader...

    A lot of OSs will install the boot loader (grub) of the first drive detected by the BIOS. Which will probably be the internal HD and not the USB. In my personal experience its best to have all other drives that you dont want linux to be install onto unplugged. You can specify other wise in most installs but better safe then sorry is what I say.

    If you dont do that. And Grub (The bootloader) gets installed on a different drive it will totally flip out if you boot the computer without the USB drive plugged in. And by flip out and me no windows nor linux.
  • Maude
    Maude Posts: 5
    You can run the live ubuntu cd and have a look around.
    You can't save anything on it, but it would give you an idea of how it works.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    You can install ubuntu on an external hard drive, but the boot method can differ based upon your needs.

    If you wish to have the external HD always connected to one computer then you can install it on the external and during the setup choose to install the bootloader on the first hard drive.

    But if you wish to be able to move the hard drive to other systems then you will want to tell it to install the bootloader on the external harddrive, however to boot to it you will have to change your boot priority options in the bios of each computer you wish to boot it on.


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