Newbed my v11 install to external hd-Grub Issues

I installed Opensuse 11 to my Western Digital usb external hard drive so I could boot from it and keep my Windows partition on my Dell E1705’s internal hard drive completely separate. I did do this properly since I was able to boot into OpenSuse from the usb drive. However, when I tried to boot directly into Windows without connecting my external drive, I would receive an error. I found that, that I could fix this, all I had to do was fix the mbr. I did that just fine, but now I cannot boot into the Opensuse partition on my external drive. When disable all boot devices except my usb drive, I get this:
“No bootable devices–strike F1 to retry boot, F2 for setup utility
Press F5 to run onboard diagnostics.”
I am basically trying to do what FizzyFanta describes in her/his first post on this thread:
Accidently installed GRUB on my Windows installation… - openSUSE Forums
but would rather not do a full reinstall of the OS.
In other words, can I just redo the grub part? If so, please explain in baby steps I am a noob and eradicating partitions comes very easy to me…
Thanks in advance

If you look back at that thread, you’ll see my post (#8) explaining the problem.

I assume you do not have a bios that permits switching the boot device on-the-fly from some kind of menu (as opposed to having to go into bios setup and reconfigure the boot devices)?

@FizzyFanta’s suggestion is helpful, but it does not always work: “This way when you unplug the usb drive, windows will still boot since you have not erased the windows MBR” - whether that happens depends upon the bios. This may work if the external can be configured as first boot device and the internal the second boot device and the bios will chain to the internal when it cannot find the external. Does your bios do this? Or does it at least appear to do so from the bios boot config setup?

If so, your next step is to install grub to the MBR of the external. This is typically problematic. To proceed, we need to know whether you have the openSUSE DVD or the Live-CD? Once installed, the grub control file on the external will need to be manually edited. Reply back and we’ll take it to the next step.

I am not certain. I received the disk with a copy of the “Linux Format” magazine. The issue it was in is this one:
Linux Format :: The website of the UK’s best-selling Linux magazine
It describes the disk as:

* Dual-booting DVD - OpenSUSE 11.0 and Linux Mint 5.0 - two fresh, hip distros. Plus: 64 Studio 2.1, Linux newcomer guides and over 50 great apps (Mike Saunders)
* HotPicks - Psychosynth, BlueProximity, Paperbox, EiffelStudio, Wormux, NPush, TuxGuitar, BG-Tiny Linux Bootdisk, YAGTD, Zile (Richard Smedley)

So I’m uncertain which is the correct answer.


It can’t be the standard installation DVD; that is 4.3GB and the magazine DVD which includes Mint and other software, is 4GB.

So this DVD booted into a “demo” graphical environment and had an “install” icon to click on, and that is what you did? Is the gui Gnome or KDE? When you fixed the internal’s MBR, what did you use to do that? What about the question re the boot configuration that your bios supports?

I booted into a live session off of the disk, and on the desktop there was an install icon. I double clicked that in proceeded to install then. The gui is KDE (4 I believe).
BIOS question: My system does allow me to boot on the fly, it has a “one time boot” button I can hit while it’s loading.


let me know if I’ve not answered your questions properly.

Sending this message while traveling . . . will reply your post upon return next Tuesday.

I hope your trip went well. I’ve not made any progress on this since your last post and could still use some help please.


Thanks. Sorry I didn’t post back. To be honest, dropped through the crack from within all the messages awaiting me. Re-reading the thread, I can see why I couldn’t respond from the road - this can get complicated. We are probably going to need to post back and forth several times.

First, can you boot from the external now on-the-fly? Or can you boot if you reconfigure the bios boot sequence using the bios setup, to boot from the external?

If neither of those work . . . When you boot from the DVD, is there an openSUSE menu with the option “Hard Disk”? If there is, and again after having reconfigured the bios boot sequence to boot first from the external, try the Hard Disk option. Does openSUSE boot?

If you booted into openSUSE, open a terminal window, switch to root (with the “su” command) and post back here the output of the following:

fdisk -l -u
cat /etc/grub.conf
cat /boot/grub/
cat /boot/grub/menu.lst

If you did not boot into openSUSE, then boot from the DVD into a live session. Open a terminal window, switch to root, and post back the output of:

fdisk -l

No problem on this one dropping through the cracks. I’ve got two systems working properly and this Opensuse thing is just a hobby right now.

I cannot boot from the external USB drive on the fly, when I try my system goes right to MS’s “netloader”(?) which asks me to choose which MS OS to load. When change the boot sequence to boot from USB first, it still goes back to the netloader. I’ve also tried to disable all boot devices BUT the usb and it still goes to the netloader.

When booting from the DVD, I have to option for “Hard Disk” but when I choose that, it goes right back to the netloader regardless of sequence of which boot devices are enabled/disabled.

I booted from DVD and switched to root via the SU command and the output is below:
Disk /dev/sda: 98.5 GB, 98522403840 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 11978 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0xe686f016

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sda1 1 6 48163+ de Dell Utility
/dev/sda2 * 7 11328 90943965 7 HPFS/NTFS
/dev/sda3 11329 11977 5213092+ db CP/M / CTOS / …

Disk /dev/sdb: 320.0 GB, 320072933376 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 38913 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x8f9c798a

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
/dev/sdb1 1 19783 158898915 c W95 FAT32 (LBA)
/dev/sdb2 19783 20045 2104484 82 Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sdb3 20045 38913 151565242 83 Linux

Hope you’re getting caught up okay.

I need one more set of info before advising which specific fix (there are several possibilities). Please boot from the DVD into Rescue Mode, login as root. Then do this, and post back the output of the “cat” commands:

mount -t ext3 /dev/sdb3 /mnt
cat /mnt/etc/grub.conf
cat /mnt/boot/grub/
cat /mnt/boot/grub/menu.lst

I’ve the out put posted below.

linux:/home/linux # mount -t ext3 /dev/sdb3 /mnt
linux:/home/linux # cat /mnt/etc/grub.conf
setup --stage2=/boot/grub/stage2 (hd0) (hd1,2)
linux:/home/linux # cat /mnt/boot/grub/
(hd0) /dev/sda
(hd1) /dev/sdb
linux:/home/linux # cat /mnt/boot/grub/menu.lst

Modified by YaST2. Last modification on Sat Sep 27 14:04:50 CDT 2008

default 0
timeout 8
gfxmenu (hd1,2)/boot/message

###Don’t change this comment - YaST2 identifier: Original name: linux###
title openSUSE 11.0
root (hd1,2)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz- root=/dev/disk/by-id/usb-WD_3200BEV_External_575845343038464B38373333-0:0-part3 resume=/dev/sdb2 splash=silent showopts vga=0x317
initrd /boot/initrd-

###Don’t change this comment - YaST2 identifier: Original name: windows###
title Windows
rootnoverify (hd1,2)
chainloader (hd0,1)+1

###Don’t change this comment - YaST2 identifier: Original name: failsafe###
title Failsafe – openSUSE 11.0
root (hd1,2)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz- root=/dev/disk/by-id/usb-WD_3200BEV_External_575845343038464B38373333-0:0-part3 showopts ide=nodma apm=off acpi=off noresume nosmp noapic maxcpus=0 edd=off x11failsafe vga=0x317
initrd /boot/initrd-

OK. What you posted back confirms that grub was in fact installed to the internal disk’s MBR, which you over-wrote when re-installing the Windows boot code using fixmbr (not doing so would have made booting Windows dependent on being able to always start the boot from the external). Grub is not installed to the external drive’s MBR, nor is it installed to the boot sector of the openSUSE partition.

I failed to ask you, what version of Windows do you have?

I am running Windows XP Mediacenter edition. I believe there are two versions and I’m almost 90% certain my version is 2005. I don’t have that one with me right now… Let me know if the year matters.

OK. This gets tricky, we may have to try it more than one way. I suggest we first try to use the Windows boot code; we will copy it from the internal drive’s MBR to the external’s MBR. Then we will install grub to the external’s openSUSE root partition boot sector and mark that partition “active”.

Boot from the DVD into Rescue System. Login as root. Now do the following. Please note that it is absolutely critical that you enter these commands precisely, in particular the dd command’s “if” and “of”. The second command, “grub”, will open the grub shell. The third command will mark the partition active.

dd if=/dev/sda of=/dev/sdb bs=446 count=1
find /boot/grub/stage2   ##it should return (hd1,2)
root (hd1,2)
setup (hd1,2) (hd1,2)
sfdisk -A3 /dev/sdb
shutdown -r now

The machine will reboot. Do the on-the-fly switch to boot the USB external. I expect you will get an error message indicating the graphical display file cannot be found, and then you will see a text menu. With the cursor arror keys highlight the first line (“openSUSE 11.0”), press “e”, again highlight the first line (“root (hd1,2)”), press “e”, then on the edit line change the “1” to “0”, press Enter - you now see the whole stanza again, with the first line reading “root (hd0,2)”; now press “b”.

If all has gone as planned, you will boot into openSUSE. Now you need to run a text editor as root, and modify /boot/grub/ to show (hd0) as /dev/sdb and (hd1) as sda. Then modify /boot/grub/menu.lst; every instance of (hd1,2) should be changed to (hd0,2).

Reboot with fingers crossed, choosing again on-the-fly USB external. You should get the graphical boot screen, and boot successfully. Report back.