New Install of 11.

Have a laptop with XP on a two partition internal hard drive. One of the partitions is for Windows, etc. and one for my data, programs, etc. I also have two additional hard drives, each 160gb. One is a USB drive and the other fits in the laptop ultra-bay. I would prefer to use one of the latter two drives if at all possible. If I put spare drive in the ultra-bay, it starts up as drive number 1 the second drive is the internal hard drive. Partition Magic (8) will not touch the ultra-bay drive in this case. Perhaps Linux will, but, before installing SuSe, I would like to be sure of what I am doing. Perhaps SuSe could be installed on the USB drive instead. As you can see I am asking for someone to help. Thanks in advance for your assistance

you can install suse on the USB disk… BUT… your Master Boot record on the first HDD wil be altered to install the bootloader…

Are you saying that when a drive is placed in the ultra-bay that this drive becomes the primary and the internal becomes the secondary? So Windows is then booting from the second drive?

You are wise to be cautious with setting up this multi-boot configuration. Aside from the strange bios tricks being done now by manufacturers (especially with laptops), you are installing on supplementary, removable storage. So a first consideration is to make sure that when you install SuSE, the Windows boot loader is not disturbed. That then translates into using the Windows loader to boot SuSE.

You can install SuSE to either the ultra-bay or the USB. The former is straightforward, as (I assume) the bios simply recognizes as just another drive and SuSE will see it that way. The latter can be a bit tricky, depending on how the bios sees the port. It may be simple, as long as the boot loading is handled elsewhere. Also, there is a howto here that may be helpful:

Installing SuSE on External USB Drive - openSUSE

The SuSE installation will suggest a boot configuration; it most likely will need to be changed. Enter that dialog and tell SuSE to install in the boot sector of the /boot and root (/) partition; this is critical. You will then need to hand edit the XP boot.ini file to have an entry that points to the SuSE boot partition. (This is called “chainloading”.) I don’t remember the syntax exactly, but there are many howto’s on the web; it’s not difficult. You will boot Windows are usual, there will be an entry for SuSE, that will take you to the SuSE boot menu, and from there you’re in . . .

You need to check why the ultra-bay becomes drive 1; if this is because the BIOS points to this first and the internal drive second, then you need to make sure the BIOS points to the internal hard drive.

This is because Linux will overwrite the MBR with a pointer to the GRUB file. If that is not on the internal drive you probably won’t be able to use Windows.

If you can make the BIOS point to the internal drive, you should be able to use the expert partitioner to put a small /boot partition on the first partition of the internal drive and the /, /swap and /home partitions on one of the other drives.

However, before you try anything defragment Windows, back everything up and make sure there isn’t something else that is causing the drives to change number.

Oh WOW! Sure sounds to be rather complex to me. Perhaps it would be best to make use of the internal drive and move my major stuff off to the USB drive. Or, perhaps even better would be to purchase a larger internal drive for both. I do have a 160gb internal drive of which (currently) 50gb goes to the MS hog and 5.7gb go to the Service partition. What would be a serviceable size for SuSe 11 with with some room for expansion? This direction would probably be best in both worlds (I am assuming). Again the appreciation to all is most high.

BIOS is the place to set drive priority 1st 2nd etc…Do NOT Set your xp drive 1st unless you want to write the grub to it’s MBR. Actually many people do this, it is OK. But if you want to keep it untouched…
During install of Suse using the DVD you will reach a summary which will have a section about booting. You can click on these sections to edit them. Just make sure that grub is installed to you first drive (non-xp).

If during install you skip the default partition setup by clicking the Partiton setup button and then Custom Partitioning, you can manage the install much better. Just make sure you know which drive is which first. Create partitons for suse as follows

/ will need about 10G, /home as much as you can give, swap 512MB+
You can select your xp part and manage it too. It will be do not format by default, but I would manually give it this mount point: /windows c
If you go to the fstab options you can give it a volume label like: XP
That basically gives it a display label in my computer; XP, other wise it will just be listed as ??GB device
All other partitions can be managed too, give them mount points. You can make mount points up, any name, just remember the /
then the name
basically it just creates a folder in the tree
USB devices for me work without need for alteration, but if you are installing to one, I don’t know.
Your BIOS will need to support it of course.