[nmglug] Questions About Dual Booting From A USB Drive

Karl Hegbloom karlheg at laclinux.com
Wed Apr 6 15:17:22 PDT 2005

On Wed, 2005-04-06 at 11:58 -0600, William D. Nystrom wrote:
> > You should use your Windows XP CD as a coffee cup coaster, and go
> > native.
> I'd do that in a hearbeat if I could but there are some applications which
> I run that I don't know of Linux replacements for.

I've been told that CodeWeaver's Crossover Office works very well, and
that it runs quite a lot of Windows software now.  You might want to
give it a try.  IIRC, they have a trial version, and the purchase price
isn't all that bad, considering.

> >> 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.
> I'm not sure of the implications here.  When you say to do it "by hand",
> do you mean that I would need to remove the hard drive from the USB
> enclosure and put it in a computer such as a laptop to do the install?
> Or did you have something else in mind?

"By hand" here means to boot the rescue CD, jack in the USB drive,
partition, make file systems, and then install Linux literally by hand,
from a tar file or rsync of another system's hard drive.  Do this only
as a last resort, if the installer does not support the USB drive.  (It
really ought to if it doesn't.)

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