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Installing Linux to a USB drive

First thing is to get Linux installed to the USB drive. The USB drive (again, can be any type of USB device that shows up as a drive in My Computer when plugged in) needs to have enough space for the install that you are requesting. For Red Hat Linux, we try to do a more complete install by picking custom or server options. This requires 4-7 gig of available space.

I installed on a Disk Go 120 Gig hard drive that supports both USB 2.0 and Firewire (but not both at the same time!).

Normally, you don’t get the option to install to removable or external drives. To turn this feature on, you need to type “expert” in at the boot prompt. This is the screen where you can see the FC Picture on the top of the screen, and text at the bottom that shows you the F keys that you can hit.

Once you type “expert” and continue, you will follow the install steps normally. At the point where you can partition your drives, you should see a new drive (/dev/sda or /dev/sdb) available for use. This is the USBdrive. USB Drives are mounted as sd? just like SCSI devices are.

Continue witht the rest of the installation normally. When asked where to instlal the boot loader (grub or lilo), pick the /dev/sd? drive! If you pick /dev/hd? you will mess up your existing operating systems boot loader. To make this change, you will have to pick the advanced settings button.

Once the install is done, if your motherboard supports booting directly from the USB device, then go into that bios and change the boot order. If everything works as it should, you should be able to boot strait to Linux from your USB device. To boot back to windows, go back into your bios and change the boot order back or unplug your USB device before booting your computer.

For those of you who don’t have a bios that supports booting from a USB device, then you will have to make a boot disk (putting the boot loader on your hard drive won’t cut it). Read the next topic for instructions on creating a boot disk.

Ray Pulsipher


Computer Magic And Software Design

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