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External HDD as Main HDD?

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May 31, 2009 3:48:58 AM

Hi... I was just wondering, can you use an external HDD or an HDD connected to an adapter wire, from SATA to USB as your main HDD. What I mean by main is that it is the only HDD connected to your computer. Yes, that's right, no HDD connected by SATA or PATA internally... This is the scenario: I have an old mobo that I want to revive. The problem is, it doesn't have any SATA interface, and I don't have an IDE HDD on hand. (I don't plan on buying one because it is more expensive than a more efficient SATA HDD.) So I saw this adapter from SATA to USB. My old motherboard has a USB slot. So I was wondering if I could install my OS from a CD, using an IDE ODD of course, to my external HDD. Will it work as if it were a normal HDD attached to an internal interface? Btw, I plan to use a Unix-like OS(Linux). Do you know if WINE can work with Windows hardware drivers?

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a b G Storage
May 31, 2009 4:59:35 AM

Depends on the MoBo, some will boot from USB, some won't.
Also is it USB 1 or 2; USB 2 will be slow, USB 1 will be big-time S-L-O-W.

Wine doesn't use Windows drivers, it's an abstraction layer which provides (part) of the Windows API using the existing Linux drivers.
June 1, 2009 4:48:17 AM

So even though USB has a higher transfer rate than SATA, it will somehow limit the connection? I'm kinda of a noob... Sorry. :p 

How do I know if my mobo has the capability of booting from a USB? I used to think that capability was dependent on the kind of OS, like some Linusx's have a live CD.

I didn't quite understand you last statement... Do you mean hardware drivers for Windows won't always work with Linux?

This maybe of little importance, but, just for curiosity, is WINE illegal???

Sorry for all the questions. Thank you! Hehehe...
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a b G Storage
June 1, 2009 3:56:21 PM

army_ant7 said:
So even though USB has a higher transfer rate than SATA, it will somehow limit the connection?

USB 2.0 does not have a higher transfer rate than SATA.
a b G Storage
June 1, 2009 8:20:23 PM

usb 2.0 is 480mbit but in real use situations it will top out at about 40-45MB/Sec

sata 2.0 is 3gb/sec or a maximum of 300MB/sec

June 2, 2009 8:51:03 AM

Oh yeah! Sorry. I misunderstood wikipedia. I thought 480Mb/s was 480 MB/s. It really is 60MB/s.

How do I know if my mobo has the capability of booting from a USB? I used to think that capability was dependent on the kind of OS, like some Linusx's have a live CD.

Do hardware drivers for Windows work always with Linux?


This maybe of little importance, but, just for curiosity, is WINE illegal???


Sorry for all the questions. Thank you! Hehehe...

P.S. If ever I have no more questions anymore, how do I make this thread have a status of "answered?"
a b G Storage
June 2, 2009 3:24:13 PM

Using a SATA drive through USB will probably negate all the benefit you are trying to gain from using SATA instead of PATA. I would say either get a PATA drive or a SATA PCI controller (~20$).
June 3, 2009 9:40:12 AM

Thanks for the info. But the problem is that they need drivers... If I don't have a HDD with an OS, I won't be able to install the drivers.

Can anyone answer my other questions?

How do I know if my mobo has the capability of booting from a USB? I used to think that capability was dependent on the kind of OS, like some Linux's have a live CD.

Do hardware drivers for Windows work always with Linux?

This maybe of little importance, but, just for curiosity, is WINE illegal???

Sorry for all the questions. Thank you! Hehehe...

If ever I have no more questions anymore, how do I make this thread have a status of "answered?"
a b G Storage
June 3, 2009 12:21:48 PM

army_ant7 said:
Thanks for the info. But the problem is that they need drivers... If I don't have a HDD with an OS, I won't be able to install the drivers.
During Windows installation, you can provide additional drivers on a floppy so you will be able to install OS on a HDD connected to a 3rd party controller.
June 3, 2009 6:27:01 PM

Really? Do you mean AHCI? Is there anyway for Linux to accomplish that? Do controllers slow the transfer rate?
a b G Storage
June 3, 2009 6:46:16 PM

I mean the actual drivers themselves, when SATA drive first came out you had to use give Windows the drivers for the SATA controller (even if on-board) if you wanted to install the OS on the SATA drive because the primary controller was PATA and the technology was new.

For Linux, either the installation kernel will have the drivers built-in (or at least a compatible driver) or I think you can give it command-line parameters to load the drivers when it starts (might need floppy for the drivers). I'm no Linux expert so you will have to ask someone more seasoned than I, sorry.

This is the kind of feature people need when they want to install their OS on SCSI drives which require SCSI controllers so you might find information starting from there.
June 3, 2009 6:55:14 PM

Ok, thanks very much...

Anyway, how do I know if my mobo has the capability of booting from a USB? I used to think that capability was dependent on the kind of OS, like some Linux's have a live CD.

Do hardware drivers for Windows work always with Linux?

This maybe of little importance, but, just for curiosity, is WINE illegal???

Sorry for all the questions. Thank you! Hehehe...

If ever I have no more questions anymore, how do I make this thread have a status of "answered?"
a b G Storage
June 3, 2009 7:08:17 PM

The boot capability is dependent on the MB, there used to be a time where PC couldn't boot from CDs either, you needed a floppy to start OS installation from the CD.

To know if a PC supports USB boot, you might find something in the BIOS itself (if USB in under some boot device option, it is a dead giveaway :p ), you can also try to create a "USB bootdisk" on a USB stick and just try it, otherwise look at your MB manual, manufacturer website or call their tech guys.

Drivers for Windows won't work under Linux, you need Linux drivers.

To my knowledge, Wine in itself isn't illegal or else the project would have been shutdown a long time ago. However, some software might have licenses that forbid you from running them in virtual environments or things like that. For example, I think nobody is supposed to run Windows Vista in VMs (like VMWare) unless they have Business or Ultimate versions.

June 4, 2009 11:48:36 AM

Hehehe... Your really knowledgeable. So if I try installing an OS on an expansion card that provides a SATA connection, I wouldn't be able to install Linux or use the card on a Linux system, even with WINE if it only has a driver for Windows?
a b G Storage
June 4, 2009 12:14:45 PM

I think so yes, Wine was made to run applications, not drivers (even tho drivers are some kind of applications). I could be wrong.

However, the fact that you cannot find Linux drivers on the manufacturer's website, doesn't mean it won't be supported by Linux. Someone might have made a compatible (open source) driver for it; it wouldn't be on the manufacturer's website. When looking to purchase a card, you have to do some research to make sure it would work. Linux is a great powerful OS, but sometimes you have to jump through some hoops :p .
June 5, 2009 9:48:51 AM

Yeah... Thanks. You've really helped a lot...
!