Find the answer to your Linux question:
Results 1 to 6 of 6
Enjoy an ad free experience by logging in. Not a member yet? Register.
  1. #1

    Thumbs up SuSE 10.0 Linux on External USB Dell Latitude D610

    OS: SuSE 10.0
    Computer: Dell Latitude D610 (Intel 815 Graphics)
    Boot Device: External USB 2.0 2.5” Hard Drive with Enclosure (Adaptec ACS-120 & 40 GB Hitachi 2.5" Drive)

    Goal: Boot SuSE 10.0 Linux from External 2.5” USB 2.0 Hard Drive Enclosure

    This information is based on instructions I found on the Internet about making an external USB 2.0 drive enclosure bootable while leaving the internal hard drive, per-loaded with Windows XP in its original unaltered condition. I do not take credit for all of the information listed in this document. I have added information as it pertains to loading SuSE 10.0 using a Dell Latitude D610 Laptop computer. See also the following html page for more good information about SuSE 10.0:

    I highly recommended you consider using the Adaptec ACS-120 External USB 2.0 2.5" Hard Drive enclosure. I found that at least one other cheaper brand enclosure did not want to boot, even though it worked fine when just attaching a USB drive to an already loaded copy of Windows or Linux. You could waste a lot of time trying to boot a USB drive that simply will not boot from the external USB drive enclosure you have purchased. Here are my 12 steps to success.

    Step 1: Backup your C: Windows hard drive to another USB external drive (not the drive you are going to load Linux on. I suggest you use Norton Ghost 9 or 10. Both worked great for me. If, you do not back up your internal hard drive, be aware that if you fail to stop GRUB from loading on the Laptop internal IDE hard drive, your copy of Windows may be GONE! Be Ye for WARNED!

    Step 2: Setup the correct boot order in the Dell BIOS. Restart the Laptop, and Press F2 to go into BIOS setup. Go to the boot setup and press enter. Use the up and down arrow keys to highlight the USB device and use the 'U' key (Up) or 'D' key (Down) to place the device where you want it. I setup the floppy first, the CD-ROM second, the USB device third and the IDE hard drive forth. Other listed devices can exist in any order below the IDE hard drive. Press enter when done and press Escape to exit and save your changes.

    Step 3: Plug-in your USB hard drive into any USB port on the computer (do not use an external hub). If you are using a docking station, use one of the built-in USB ports on the side of the Laptop computer. Do not use a Docking Station USB port. Insert the first SuSE 10.0 disk in the CD-ROM drive. Since the CD-ROM is listed first in the boot order, it should boot up first. Either turn on or restart your computer. I used the five CD-ROM SuSE 10 disk set and did not use the single DVD.

    Step 4: Boot from the first SuSE 10.0 Disk and answer the first questions as you wish until you get to the point just before the install. You need to select the Expert tab and pick the Boot Loader. Do Not Install Grub on your local hard drive (Master MBR) which is the default! Doing so could render your copy of Windows XP unbootable. I selected the second option to load to /Dev/Sdb2. I also picked the Grub option to load the generic boot code in the MBR and left the other two options selected.

    Step 5: Also, before you begin the install, this is your opportunity to select other software from the lists by picking the software setting on either Tab. I suggest you add games, mobile computing and expert options. Read through the list and watch your used disk space to make sure you have lots of room left over. I used the KDE desktop as I found it was able to print to Windows shared printers with little trouble and in general more of the installed applications seemed to work properly. A typical healy load that does not include all files will be near 6 gigabytes.

    Step 6: Let the Install begin. The first disk takes between 10 and 25 minutes to complete depending on the speed of your hard drive and the number programs you are loading. Do not leave the front of your monitor, but watch the load progress. This is because SuSE 10.0 reboots the computer after loading the first disk and the reboot will not work properly until you make more changes to your USB load. Further, you could end up either starting over loading Linux for no reason or locked up on your new USB drive, sitting there not doing anything.

    Step 7: Allow the SuSE install Disk one to reboot your computer after the loading of SuSE disk one is complete. Keep Disk 1 of SuSE 10.0 in your CD-ROM drive. Because you have setup the CD-ROM drive to boot before the External USB drive, the first SuSE 10.0 install disk will boot up again. When you get to the first SuSE menu, select the Rescue Linux operation. SuSE will then load the text based Linux system into a RAM drive that can be used to modify you newly loaded USB external hard drive.

    Step 8: When you finally get to the Linux Terminal text based prompt enter the name 'root' and press enter. I assume you used the default partitioning of the external USB drive. Now you need to get to the Root of the Linux RAM disk file system and, mount your USB drive and modify your kernel text file to load USB drivers. Type in the following commands without the single quotes and press enter at the end of each line.

    'cd ..'
    'mkdir /mnt/sysimage'
    'mount /dev/sdb2 /mnt/sysimage'
    'chroot /mnt/sysimage'

    What you just did was create a folder called /mnt/sysimage in your present RAM drive created by the SuSE 10.0 boot disk rescue mode. You then mounted the external USB hard drive partition number 2 into Linux's unified file system. Last, you changed the Root folder to your external USB drive Linux folders. When you do a DIR terminal command now, it will look the same as before you entered all of the above commands, but you are looking at your USB drive instead. It is important to remember the four above steps. You can use them anytime you need to modify a non-working copy of Linux using the Number one Linux 10.0 boot disk.

    Step 9: Next, you need to edit the Kernel Text file to allow the loading of USB drivers at boot time by your Linux Kernel after Grub is done. USB drivers are already being loaded by Linux latter, but you need them to load during startup. I assume they are left out here to speed up the loading of Linux from an internal IDE hard drive.

    You can use the Text Editor 'VI' which is VERY simple in nature. When you start VI, you can delete characters, but you can not add them, so press the 'INSERT' key to allow adding and removing characters as needed. You can move your cursor any where around the file. Do Not Press Enter unless you really want another line. Press the 'ESCAPE' key to exit the insert mode so you can save the file after doing an edit. Then you press ':wq' which means Command:Write file and Quit. Enter the following terminal command:

    'vi /etc/sysconfig/kernel'

    Find the line that starts with INITRD_MODULES=” and you want to insert the following items and a space each after the command reiserfs.


    It might look something like this when done:

    INTRD_MODULES=”reiserfs ehci-hcd ohci-hcd uhci-hcd usb-storage sd_mod”

    Other commands may exist before reiserfs and that is OK, just leave them alone. If you see INTRD_MODULES=”” you are most likely not editing the right file. If you can't find kernel, you have not really mounted your external hard drive properly.

    Step 10: We need to make the INITRD disk image file to use at boot time based on the items we have in the Kernel Text file. We use the command mkintrd which is defined as:


    mkinitrd, creates an initial image used by the kernel for preloading the block device modules (such as IDE, SCSI or RAID) which are needed to access the root file system. mkinitrd automatically loads file system modules (such as ext3 and jbd), IDE modules, all scsi_host adapter entries in /etc/modprobe.conf, and raid modules if the system's root partition is on raid, which makes it simple to build and use kernels using modular device drivers.

    Any module options specified in /etc/modprobe.conf are passed to the modules as they are loaded by the initial ram disk.

    The root file system used by the kernel is specified in the boot configuration file, as always. The traditional root=/dev/hda1 style device specification is allowed. If a label is used, as in root=LABEL=rootPart the initrd will search all available devices for an ext2 or ext3 file system with the appropriate label, and mount that device as the root file system.


    Issue the following commands:

    'mount -tproc none /proc'

    If you get an error that /proc is already loaded, you forgot to enter the CHROOT command in the instructions in Step 8 above. You should see the new USB commands you entered go by the screen in a small blaze of text. If you get any errors at all, you may have skipped a step or misspelled something.

    Step 11: OK, now is time for the acid test. Remove your SuSE 10.0 Boot disk one from the CD-ROM drive and hit Ctrl-Alt-Del and restart your computer. If you did it right, SuSE 10 will load from the USB hard drive and continue on with loading, asking for disks two through five. If it does, you have made it!

    Step 12: OK, so you might want to boot to Windows XP while your USB 2.0 External Hard Drive is attached. I found that the default Windows load created by the SuSE 10.0 installation did not work for me. I found that the following entries in the file /boot/grub/menu.lst worked for me.

    ###Don't change this comment - YaST2 identifier: Original name: windows###
    title Windows XP
    map (hd0) (hd1)
    map (hd1) (hd0)
    rootnoverify (hd1,0)
    chainloader +1

    Good luck. You can send your comments to this document to:

    Thank You,
    James D. McDaniel

  2. #2

    I had a few questions about what you did.

    -What is the importance of not connecting the hard-drive through a hub or dock? I'm not sure my external drive works with just the ones on my laptop; it needs two ports for power and data and of course they are right on top of each other on the laptop.

    -also, is it ok if the grub is installed in the MBR of the usb drive? That way I could just press F12 for my boot menu and click on usb to boot suse.

    -Does this method also work using the DVD installation?

    -And finally, is the cd.. necessary and what does it do?

    These are some of the ways other threads on linuxforums differ from yours and I thought you might have some insight.



  3. #3

    Smile Comments on Loading SuSE 10 on External USB Drive.

    Q. What is the importance of not connecting the hard-drive through a hub or dock? I'm not sure my external drive works with just the ones on my laptop; it needs two ports for power and data and of course they are right on top of each other on the laptop.

    A. The USB port you use can change the drive designation depending on other USB drives that might be connected to your computer. Further, the Docking Station always changes the port designation. Using the side USB ports on the computer could assure your drive designation will remain correct. Grub will only work when the USB drive is equal to your settings in Grub setup.

    The power cable, if needed can be plugged into any powered port. Further, the power cable may not be required when the main USB connector is plugged directly into a powered USB port on the side of the computer.

    Q. also, is it ok if the grub is installed in the MBR of the usb drive? That way I could just press F12 for my boot menu and click on usb to boot suse.

    A. You can install Grub into the MBR, but the most reliable method would be to use a standard MBR and have Grub installed into the active partition. This method worked and still works great for me. I suggest you use this method if you want to get up and running as fast as possible. If you want to find out what works and what does not, go for all configurations and pick the one you like.

    Q. Does this method also work using the DVD installation?

    A. I never had a DVD for version 10.0, but the DVD worked for 10.1. However, 10.0 made a better guess on Drive designations than 10.1 did. If I had not seen how 10.0 worked, I might not have been able to get 10.1 to work. Also, 10.1 has some issues with online updateing. BY far, using the CD set and 10.0 will work as described, but again you can spend more time to figure out how to use a DVD.

    Q. And finally, is the cd.. necessary and what does it do?

    A. No it is not needed. It just puts you back to the root folder.

    Thank you for your questions and interrest.

    James D. McDaniel
    Austin, Texas

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4

    Strange Problems with external usb

    Hi James,

    Thanks for all the input, but I still am having strange things happening with my partitions. Previous to the restall with altered bootorder and GRUB installed on sda's MBR, the external drive was booting erratically (it would boot fine once and then it would not boot for several reboot times, and then all of the sudden it would work again. So I did what you suggested and it worked immediately after, but on the next reboot it failed to startup GRUB and instead started GRUB of Ubuntu from the internal drive, even though sda is before hda in the BIOS. Every once and a while I notice my external drive not spinning correctly, probably from not getting enough power from the connected usb cables (when I have one plugged in it does this, but sometimes it does the same thing even though both are plugged in). Then I switched to not using the D/Dock that goes with my computer, and it worked several times in a row with the data cord plugged in on the computer and the mouse and power cord plugged into usb hub port on my keyboard which was plugged directly into the computer. However, every once in a while it would not boot to the external drive. When this happened starting up Ubuntu (not in recovery mode, which did not work) and changing the root to a mounted sda6 partition (the suse root partition), mounting proc and running mkinitrd fixed the problem for one or two reboot attempts, however that again did not boot suse grub every time. Now, I've switched back to using the D/Dock (which blocks the two usb ports on the back of my laptop) and plugging in the keyboard in the back (with the usb power cord attached) and plugging the usb data cord on the side of the D/Dock, which seems to work, but that also is having the same problems. If you have any ideas as to how to fix this or what I am doing wrong, it would be great to know.



  6. #5
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Berwyn Heights, MD USA

    I found I had eratic boot problems with my USB drives until I changed to enclosurers the had external an external powersupply (not buss powered). Also I made sure that they were USB2. I always power my USB drives about a minute before booting my computer. That is to insure that they are seen as drive 1, something that gave me aproblem when using a buss powered drive.

    Also when installing SUSE 10.1 if you take care to set the drive boot order before installing the bootloader SUSE will generate the correct initrd to boot. No having to edit and files or othe mumbo-jumbo, just install and boot.

  7. #6

    Inexperienced and scared person version

    Hi, thank you very much for your post! it is very easy to follow. I was doing the process step by step until the part where my XP version could stop working if the boot program gets to it. I am in the same situation where I use this computer for work and I am extremely unexperienced in Linux, so I did not want to take the risk. So I took a different route which Im sure is wrong in many many ways, but it worked for me : ) I wanted to share it just in case anybody had the same doubt as if it was possible.

    Here is what I did:

    Step 1: Put the linux suse installation cd on the cd drive.
    Step 2: Turn off the computer and remove the internal hard drive (very easy just two screws out)
    Step 3: Connect the external hard drive (I used the seagate freeagent 500gb) and start the computer indicating that I want to try to start it with the cd.
    Step 4: After the computer starts with the linux installation cd, follow the instructions accepting all the default configurations.
    Step 5: After linux is fully installed, turn off the computer.


    If I want to start with linux, I plug the external hd and I indicate to the computer to start the system with the external USB drive. This happens either by pressing F12 or happens automatically after the computer gives me the error message due to the lack of internal hard drive. By the way, it gives me this error even if I change the booting sequence in the BIOS to only include the USB drive, probably because the power of my external drive comes from the USB.

    If I want to start with xp, unplug the external drive, slip in the internal hd and start the computer.

    Not the most convenient way and probably risk damaging the internal hd in other ways, but at least it would not have the smoking gun of having part of linux in the disk when the IT guys try to repair the hd.

    Thank you very much again, not sure if is ok to post this cave man approach to do it, but I hope it can help at least for the sake of experimenting.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts