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SUSE 10.3 on a USB Hard Disk - Possible?

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December 29, 2007 6:29:48 PM

What I intend to do is to install SUSE 10.3 onto a USB Hard Disk with an NTFS partition. It is a small 80GB IDE Hard disk which I shoved into an enclosure to make it a hot pluggable USB Drive. I currently use this hard disk to put all my music on, so as to relieve strain from the main hard disk, especially when doing other tasks such as video encoding.

Firstly, can I install SUSE Linux 10.3 onto a USB Hard Disk and boot off it? - my motherboard supports using USB devices as boot devices. I know Windows XP on USB drives is a no no but is it the same story for Linux?

Also, if I was to install Linux on an existing NTFS partition with files such as music files, would I HAVE to format the hard disk and wipe out any previous contents before installing Linux. The USB Hard disk has no OS data or system files on, it is strictly a secondary hard disk for all my music files, there isn't even a folder for System Volume Data (system restore has not been set up to monitor this drive) - I dont want to install linux on this USB disk if it will wipe out everything that previously existed before installing itself (i.e. my music)

Thanks for your help

More about : suse usb hard disk

December 30, 2007 2:24:18 PM

You can't install Linux on an NTFS partition, NTFS support is only available after booting.
December 30, 2007 3:38:53 PM

So the only problem is the NTFS partition. If I repartitioned the drive to one NTFS partition of say aprrox 60GB and a FAT32 partition of 20GB for Linux then are there any other obstacles preventing me from installing Linux.

I trust Linux can be installed on a USB drive and booted off, so long as my motherboard supports booting from USB drives.
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December 30, 2007 7:22:33 PM

Normally you should use ext3 for the root file system.

FAT32 can be made to work but it is not recommended.
December 30, 2007 8:13:04 PM

EXT3?? How can I prepare this partition for ext3 using Windows Computer Management? Can I just leave the partition for linux as unformatted and let Linux do the work??
December 30, 2007 10:04:43 PM

Linux will format it as ext3 during the install, you do not have to do anything to it under windows.

In fact Linux can partition for windows as well, but windows cannot partition for Linux.


It is usually best to partition your disk something like this


/boot ext3 /dev/sda1 about 100MB


/ LVM Volume VolGroup00 LogVol00 for root ext3 /dev/sda2 xx GB give it however many GB you think you will need


/ntfs NTFS /dev/sda3 xx GB give it however many GB you think you will need



/dev/sda is the first SCSI, SATA, USB or FireWire device in the system ( SATA, USB and FireWire disks show up as SCSI on Linux ).


Usually your first SCSI, SATA, USB or FireWire disk is /dev/sda

the 2nd SCSI, SATA, USB or FireWire disk is /dev/sdb

the 3rd SCSI, SATA, USB or FireWire is /dev/sdc

and so on


If you have 1 SATA HDD and 1 USB HDD the SATA disk will normally be /dev/sda and the USB HDD will normally be /dev/sdb

If you have 2 SATA HDDs and 1 USB HDD the SATA disks will normally be /dev/sda and /dev/sdb and the USB HDD will normally be /dev/sdc. If you plug in a USB flash drive that will normally become /dev/sdd.

Hope this helps :) 
January 1, 2008 3:30:53 PM

That was a great help in understanding the Linux file system. Only reason I am installing Linux is for my course next semester in Operating Systems structure lol.

The Two SATA drives will be unplugged throughout the Linux installation. That way they wont get interfeared with by Linux, and personally I want them to having nothing to do with my Linux partition.

The reason for this over a dual boot is simplicity. I share this PC with other users and they dont like the idea of having to choose an operating system not to mention it slows down boot up procedure. By installing Linux on a single USB hard disk without it seeing any other drives, I can then set it up so that I can switch on this USB drive whenever I want to boot into Linux, otherwise I simply switch the BIOS to boot off SATA disk and it all works as before.

So I was thinking of perhaps partitioning the USB drive into two partitions

1x60GB NTFS Partition for music and everything
the remainder space will be left as unpartitioned space so that I can choose this as space for Linux to install on.

Will this work??
!