Boot from external HDD

I have a laptop that came with no OS. It has no internal HDD, so I formatted a 320gb external HDD and installed openSUSE 11.3 from another computer onto the external hdd. I can’t seem to boot from the external hdd on the laptop though. I have it set as the primary boot source in BIOS. Is it possible to boot from external hdd or am I missing a step?

To answer you question boxerlover:

Is it possible to boot from external hdd or am I missing a step?
Yes, it is possible to install and boot openSUSE from an external hard drive. However, there are several issues you may need to over come when loaded on a different PC. So, does this laptop have a CDROM or DVDROM player by chance? If so, I would just install openSUSE again, but this time using the correct computer. Or, if so, you might be able to boot a openSUSE LiveCD on the Laptop in order to look at the installation, to make sure it is correct.

To make a long story short, we don’t know if you loaded the grub boot loader on this external hard drive or not. If Grub were installed in the openSUSE partition, but no generic boot loader was placed in the MBR, it would not load either. There are other issues as well with grub if the hard drive is now /sda when it was perhaps /sdb when openSUSE was installed.

So, what would I do in your case? I would surely try to get a USB CDROM drive I could boot from in order to install openSUSE onto the external hard drive while it was connected to the target computer. In a case where no internal hard drive existed, openSUSE would install and do EVERYTHING properly by default for you. If you do have a internal CDROM drive, then you need to download a LiveCD and reinstall openSUSE from this laptop.

Finally, it might be possible to reinstall openSUSE again on another computer, but it would take specific instructions for what to do and required modifications that would actually cause it not to work on the first computer, which might be hard to handle for a new Linux user. Which just brings us back to having a CDROM drive connected to the laptop again.

Thank You,

Thanks for the reply. To answer your question, No there is not a cdrom in the laptop that I am wanting to use the external hdd on. After a few hours of worki. nig with the old internal hdd I have got bios to recognize it again, however without an i/o drive I can’t install from the live disc. I run linux on 2 other computers in my home but this is an older laptop that I used when I’m on the go as it has a more rugged design than most modern laptops. I could probably buy a replacement i/o drive off of ebay for relatively cheap but was hoping with the wealth of external hdd’s I have lying around that I could simply install this way. I read an article at: How to Install SUSE to a USB Hard Drive | USB Pen Drive Linux about how to make linux work on an external hdd that you could move from computer to computer but it seems outdated as most of the instructions do not apply to the way that 11.3 SUSE is setup. If there is something that I might be able to change within the hdd please feel free to let me know. I tried modifying the menu.lst and files to say /sdb or possibly /HD0 or /HD1 whichever it may have been when I did the initial install but that doesn’t seem to help much. Thanks for any additional info you might be able to provide…also would it be possible to just format the external hdd and load live cd on that and boot from the external and install that way?

So, what if you put this external drive drive back on another computer and on the other computer you disconnected all internal hard drives and then do the install again on the external hard drive. The install would then be correct for your laptop as far as booting and drive designations are concerned. You still have the issue that the configuration would be for the new computer hardware and not the old laptop, but it is worth a try.

Thank You,

I guess I didn’t specify that previously but I did disconnect the internal hdd from my desktop when installing to the external HDD so there would be no confusion about which drive I wished to use. If I could I would just install to a 2.5 internal but I don’t have the correct ribbon in any of my other computers to work with the internal hdd that came with the laptop, my desktop is far too large an IDE connection and all of my others are SATA. In retrospect just buying the parts I need to fix my i/o drive will probably only cost me about $10 so it might be worth the money if I can’t find a solution in the next day or two. Again, I appreciate all of the feedback.

So, you might want to look into creating a LiveCD bootable USB drive. Here is a current page originally meant for openSUSE 11.2, but does mention 11.3. It might be worth a try to boot from the USB stick and then use it to install openSUSE on the external hard drive while on the same Laptop.

SDB:Live USB stick - openSUSE

Thank You,

Thanks for all of the help. Was able to boot from a thumb drive after writing the live image to it. Didn’t even have to use the external hdd since I was able to get the internal working. Had some trouble configuring the network settings manually, but with a little research in the forums and novell providing the firmware updates for my wlan card I am able to reply to this thread in 11.3 on the laptop. Thanks again man, would have been scratchin my head alot longer if you hadn’t taken the time to reply.

Happy to help boxerlover. I love to hear about success, no matter how it may occur.

Thank You,