[nmglug] Questions About Dual Booting From A USB Drive

Karl Hegbloom karlheg at laclinux.com
Wed Apr 6 09:42:33 PDT 2005

On Tue, 2005-04-05 at 13:01 -0600, William D. Nystrom wrote:
> Initially, I'm
> interested in trying Debian, Fedora Core 3 and perhaps Gentoo.

I think you should also try Ubuntu.  The "Hoary Hedgehog" release
candidate is probably worth a try!  I think it will do all of the
hardware detection you need, similar to what Knoppix will do.

> 1.  I'm thinking I will probably need to do alot of partitioning and     
> resizing of partitions.  Is Partition Magic 8.0 the way to go here or are
> there better alternatives?  I've used Partition Magic in the past but not
> at all recently.  Reviews complain about poor technical support and
> possibly about draconian key activation issues.

Don't waste your money on Partition Magic.  Instead, get the System
Rescue CD from http://www.sysresccd.org/ and use the 'run_qtparted'
command from there.  You have to boot it to frame-buffer mode (fb1024).

> 2.  Would I start by installing Windows XP first or Linux first?  Are
> there still limitations with Windows regarding the maximum cylinder on the
> hard drive which would dictate how I might do the partitioning?  For
> Windows, should I use NTFS or FAT32?

You should use your Windows XP CD as a coffee cup coaster, and go

> 3.  Are there any issues with this plan that I have not thought of?

Windows XP won't run on more than one computer like that, since it
computes a registration key based on a hardware signature.

Some Linux distro installers do not support installation to a USB hard
drive.  You may need to do it 'by hand' to get it to work.  The main
issue is that there has to be an 'initrd' that loads the 'usb_storage'
module so that it can access the drive in order to mount the root file
system.  The boot loader and Linux itself are totally separate.  The
boot loader will load the Linux kernel and an 'initrd' image, and then
the system in the initrd must take it from there.  The bulk of the
hardware detection is done after the 'pivot_root' and 'chroot' to the
real root FS on the hard drive.

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