install to USB external hard drive destroyed the partitions?

i wanted to install LEAP to my external USB hard drive (not stick). My internal system boots to a grub menu that offers Ubuntu and Mint as choices. i wanted LEAP to be added as the third choice.

I installed LEAP to the external drive, creating partitions for /swap, /boot, and /
I asked it to install grub to the /boot partition, figuring it couldn’t hurt (?)
after installing, there was an error message about grub not finishing the job. LEAP then invited me to restart for first boot

As it goes without saying, the system didn’t boot from the external drive. The external drive also won’t mount when I boot to the internal drive [it used to auto-mount under ubuntu and mint]. I was hoping to run “update-grub” from the internal system and get LEAP on the boot menu, but no dice since the drive is not seen.

My partitions on the external drive appear to be gone (!).
From fdisk:

Command (m for help): p
Disk /dev/sdc: 931.5 GiB, 1000204886016 bytes, 1953525168 sectors
Units: sectors of 1 * 512 = 512 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disklabel type: dos
Disk identifier: 0x64319375

Is there a way I can find the missing partition table? I raelize i did a bad job with GRUB, but I thought i did the partitions correctly. I certainly never asked leap to delete the entire partition table (at least i don’t think i did). There were a couple of other partitions on the drive besides what LEAP was going to use.

AFAIK, normally a Linux system handles a USB interface differently to the “normal” hard drive interfaces (SATA or IDE).

Therefore, normally, it is not possible to install a Linux system on a USB drive and boot that drive from GRUB2 located in the “/boot/” directory on a “normal” hard drive.

A “default” installation to the USB drive (a “/boot/” also located on the USB drive) should however, work – you’ll need to boot the USB drive via UEFI or BIOS however.

thank you, that is very useful to know! Now I will follow the manual to install boot code in the MBR of the external drive itself.

3 questions:

  1. is that the right step?
  2. If I do that, will my other Mac and Linux partitions on the disk be visible again?
  3. Does anyone know why the install would have deleted these partitions or made them invisible?
    a. Is there something magic about the “first boot” that affects seeing, or not seeing, these other partitions?

I would attempt to check the partitioning on the USB drive either from your Mac system or one of your other Linux systems.

  • The openSUSE installation should have detected the partitions on the USB drive and, should have suggested the amount by which these partitions needed to be shrunk to accommodate the partitions which had to be created for the openSUSE installation.

Another Linux system should be able to list all the mounted partitions by means of the user “root” executing the CLI command “fdisk -l”. An alternative may be the CLI command “sfdisk”.

I’m not convinced that is true.

What I ran into, was that when booting the hard disk the BIOS did not fully initialize the USB system. If I first booted to a system on the hard disk, I could then reboot to a system on the USB. But on cold boot it did not work unless I told the BIOS to boot the USB device (presumably it then initializes the USB system).

There’s another problem, if you put the hard drive in the computer to install, then later put it in an external drive mount. Unless the USB drivers are forced into the “initrd”, it won’t boot that way. But if you install while it is already using the USB interface, then the “initrd” should be built with the correct drivers.

So, i realized that the partitions were too messed up to be fixed. I re-formatted the whole drive and let LEAP do the partitions it wanted.

About half way through the installation, I began to get errors that this or that package had failed to install. Several dozen of these errors. Then at the end of the install, an error that the GRUB command had failed to run. Obviously the partitions are non-existent again.

Something is terribly wrong wiht how LEAP is installing to my external drive. Can it really be that buggy? (no, obviously : )

How can I troubleshoot this?

Perhaps problems with the drive itself, or problems with the drive cable (part of the enclosure).

What are you installing from? DVD?? did you run checksum on the iso? Did you run check media from installer window? Sounds like you have a bad image or burn or the USB device is worn out.

i’m installing from DVD.
The cable is probably to blame. I’m using a female to male adapter. The USB drive was working fine with this cable for backups and such, but I guess not good enough for installing an operating system.

I did not do the media check – didn’t see that option. Thanks for pointing it out. i’ll do that after heading to the store for a new cable.

Do these drives just die after a time? I haven’t used this one much. It was expensive – nice Rosewill drive with beautiful outside housing and fan. I sure hope it’s the cable!

Thank you both for your help!

OK thought it was a stick they do ware out with erasures.

Large iso downloads can be corrupt. burning a DVD may not be 100% correct. So you need to check the checksum of the ISO and burn the DVD at the slowest possible speed to reduce errors and run check media if installing fromto the DVD if you are having corruption problem like you describe.