Installing 12.2 to an external hard drive

Hi, I am trying to install openSUSE 12.2 on my external hard drive. I went through the installation process described on the website, but I want to make sure i have it right before actually clicking install. I first deleted the partition that already existed. i then created boot volume /dev/sdb1 with ext2 (150 mb). Then I created a swap volume /dev/sdb2 (2gb). then extended partition sdb3 (929.37 gb) root volume sdb5 (20 gb) with ext3 and volume sdb6 for /home (909.36 gb) with xfs. the boot loader type is set to grub2 and the status location is /dev/sdb1. will clicking install harm my windows 7 partition on my internal hard drive in any way? the external is sdb. i will upload a picture of the yast window in a moment.

So, the main issues with installing on an external hard drive are:

  1. Where is Grub being loaded? You must make sure in the Booting section that Grub 2 clearly is being installed in /dev/sdb and I would elect for it to be in the MBR of the External Hard Drive and to not use a Generic boot code in the MBR.
  2. You must make sure that all three required/recommended Partitions are located in /dev/sdb hard drive as in swap, root / and /home.
  3. You must elect to set your BIOS to boot from /dev/sdb first.
  4. Check and double check these options before you proceed.

Finally, I might suggest you give more space to root / as 20 GB is just enough if you load all desktops and with this much space, what would it hurt if you made root / 50 or 60 GB just in case? It is something to consider. For more info on partitioning, have a look here:

Thank You,

Yes, Grub is being loaded to /dev/sdb1, unless the “Status Location” is not the location it is being loaded to. I will change that size right now, thank you for the tip. Also, here is the image View image: 467327 514902928527487 578432348 o

How will you boot from second drive? You need something to load and execute first sector of sdb1.

Sorry, I’m a bit of a linux newbie… Could you please elaborate?

If this is a Linux only disk then you need to install grub into the MBR

sdb1 is the first partition on the drive sdb

If you install grub there then the is not MBR (assuming this is a clean drive) and the BIOS will not know how to boot that disk.

Ok, a few questions:

  1. Will this remove the windows bootloader?
  2. Would it mean that the external hard drive is only usable on this computer?
  3. If either answer is yes, is there a way around it?

Yes it over writes it with the grub. If you have or had windows on that disk sdb then you just need to set the boot flag on what ever partition contains grub ie sdb1. But that partition need to be either boot or root. Generally to don’t need a separate boot partition just have it all in root. So in this case assuming no boot partition sdb1 must be mounted as root and you are ok with what you have shown. The Windows boot MBR is generic and tries to boot which ever partition as the boot flag.

If the only thing that you plan to boot on this disk is Linux then put grub in the MBR. Which is what I understood you were doing.

Does each disk have its own MBR? Windows is on /dev/sda.

Any disk you want to boot must have a MBR.

Just looked back through this thread to make sure I read everything and saw “MBR of the external drive” so I’m guessing that each drive has its own MBR? And that by writing Grub to the MBR on sdb I wont be harming sda?

Right. You must specify this because default it will go to what ever it thinks is the current boot drive I assume sda and that will overwrite the Windows MBR. Just be sure that it points to the right drive before accepting the scheme.

Hi apache 1649,

You are doing something similar to what I have on my PC. Just a few pointers about what I have already run through.
a) I take it that you have one internal disk and one external. Further you normally boot into “Windows” OS which is on the internal disk.
b) You are planning to use the entire external disk for Linux. You may wish to keep one or two partitions on the external disk for “Windows”, in which case the usual recommendation is to have these in the beginning i.e. primary partitions 1 and 2.
c) Please check if your external disk is bootable or not!! Seagate external drives GoFlex etc are made non-bootable. If bootable you can safely write Grub 2 to the MBR of the external disk, without affecting the internal disk. Else it is a long work around.
d) The booting order is set in the BIOS set up. I have set the order to external disk and then internal disk. This way the booting is to Grub which includes the option to boot into “Windows” on the internal drive. If the external drive is switched off/disconnected the system boots through the internal disk into "Windows’.

You may like to go through my “experience” on the thread


Apart from the important things already discussed above, there are a few thing I do not quite understand why you do them. Though there may be valid reasons, but they are all different then the default behaviour and the behaviour of most here.
And as you in fact asked for comment on your whole setup …

. Why a separate partition for /boot?
. Why ext3 instead of ext4 for /?
. Why xfs instead of ext4 for /home.

These are definitely not the things suggested by the partitioner.

Also you use 2GB for swap, but, while it may ve perfect, you do not tell how many RAM you have (and if you want to hibernate the stem).

Until further information about your brain processes behind this setup, it is difficult to comment on them.

On 2012-11-29 04:06, apache1649 wrote:
> arvidjaar;2507443 Wrote:
>> How will you boot from second drive? You need something to load and
>> execute first sector of sdb1.
> Sorry, I’m a bit of a linux newbie… Could you please elaborate?

That you must check if your computer can select boot from external disk
in bios ignoring the internal disk.

Otherwise you have to modify the windows boot code so that it allows you
to choose boot the external disk. For this you need bcdedit freeware, or
grub internal disk.

Cheers / Saludos,

Carlos E. R.
(from 12.1 x86_64 “Asparagus” at Telcontar)

Thanks for all your help guys, I really appreciate it. The thought process behind this was found in this tutorial:
I simply followed the instructions there. When it got to the part about the Grub configuration files I was a bit lost, as I did not know how to find them. The 12.2 installation manager doesn’t seem to have the option to edit those manually. I believe it ssid something about using a separate boot partition so that if the drive got unplugged for any reason while in use, it didnt become unbootable, only the data in /home became unusable. I have 4 GB of RAM and I can boot from an external drive.

When you have 4GB of RAM, you indeed probaly do not need much more then 2 GB of Swap for running without problems. But when you want to hibernate/sleep it to disk, you need to accomodate those 4 GB on the swap space (well it will be compressed, but 2GB is not enough IMHO).

I do not understand the theory of the separate /boot and /home parttiions and corruption (but I doubt).

Your choice for ext3 instead of ext4 is still not clear.

BTW, did you check when the documentation you used as a guide was updated the last time?

I used ext3 because thats what the tutorial told me to use. I’m not very familiar with linux installations, so I figured I should stick to what it told me I should do. No, I did not check when it was last updated, but it did say it was for suse 11. The installers were very similar though, so I figured they would probably work about the same way. The only thing I really couldn’t figure out was how to edit the Grub configuration files, as the installer apparently no longer has the option to edit those manually.

We have gone way foreward since openSUSE 11.whatever.
. ext4 replaced ext3 as the default file system
. GRUB2 replaced GRUB.
. systmd replace sysvinit.
. …

You better try to stick close to the defaults the installer offers. Only change when you have a case for it. And of course installing not on the"first" disk (where your Windows apparently is), but on another one is a case that requires to do things different and to (double) check before you go and to ask here. But I do not see what installing to use another disk has to do with:
. the choice of a separate /boot;
. the choice of non ext4 file systems (is that xfs also from that “tutorial”?);
. the choice of 2 Gb for swap (not even let the installer offer you a good proposal).

Why not start the installer and when it comes to partitioning, click around there until you see the “use whole disk” option (with of course your choosing the correct disk) and see what the proposal is. And then, when you hesitate about that proposal, come here for advice? And it maybe handy, though not needed, to remove all partitiiong from that disk before.

And yes, in your situation the place to use for the boot (MBR, or …) is important. There are hints above… When not sure ask about that particular detail.

Hi guys, sorry it’s been so long since I replied, I haven’t had much time to work on this so I haven’t been around. This thread has given me some really useful knowledge (I think). The only thing is, it’s a bit jumbled up. If it isn’t too much to ask, could someone either write a short tutorial for this here, or link me to one? If it would be easier do it step by step while I am doing the installation, I would be open to a PM conversation while I was in the process. If it’s a pain, I don’t want to be a nuisance, so don’t worry about it. Thanks to everyone for all your help so far.