Linux Booting

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Wegs

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Okay, I need a bit of help. I want to install Ubunu to my brand new 500 GB external hard drive. However, some things are getting in the way:

-My parents CANNOT find out about this.
-The only CD's available to me aren't big enough to install ubuntu off of.
-If I've heard correctly, the master boot record will ask to pick between Ubuntu and Vista at every startup. Is there any way I can avoid this?

Any help I can get would be greatly appreciated.
 

chevre

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Is the external a USB drive? Basically if you install it on an external hard drive and write the MBR of that disk for grub, it won't display the grub menu unless you are booting from that disk. You can change this by setting your boot order in your BIOS menu. If you've got USB selected to boot before internal hdd, then if a bootable USB device is connected (e.g. your linux external hdd) then it will try booting from that. You can either leave it that way and make sure you don't leave it plugged in when your parents are booting the machine, or be extra sneaky and only change the config each time you want to boot linux.

Also, people used to have setups where linux was installed, but would only boot when a boot floppy was inserted. I'm guessing you don't have a floppy drive, but you could probably rig something up similar with a USB flash drive or CD.
 

Wegs

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Thanks for the help.

Yes, it's a USB drive. I could keep it unplugged when I'm not going to boot from it.

However, I still need to know how to install it without any disk, and now I need to know how to write the MBR for grub. I have no prior experience with Linux whatsoever, so I'm a bit lost with things like that.
 

chevre

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Do you have a USB flash drive lying around somewhere? https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/FromUSBStick might help if you do.

As far as writing to the right MBR goes, you should be able to choose which disk you write grub to. Your drives will likely be named /dev/sda, /dev/sdb, etc. (it's possible it could be /dev/hda, /dev/hdb too, but less likely now). Unless the other disk in your machine is the same size, it should probably be easy to guess which is which based on that. IIRC it will give you several options on how to install grub. If you choose the MBR of the external drive you should be good.

One other option you could consider, is to install grub on the main hdd but with .1s timeout (or other very short timeout) that defaults to windows. Then you could just hold down a cursor key while booting to catch it (timeout is stopped if you are pressing keys).
 

Wegs

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Okay, thanks for all the help! As soon as I get the chance I'll install.
 

chevre

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Cool! Let us know how it goes or if you run into problems. I (and I know some others here) are always up for helping people get into the linux world :).
 

kapi

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Maybe your mainboard offers a boot menu pressing F12. Would be quite easy to choose your usb disk if you want to use it then. (once you completely installed the system on it)
Also reduces the risk you screw something on the main sytem :p

And why dont you have a CD which is big enough? If you have one available it will suffice. They're all about 700mb in size.
 

Wegs

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Maybe your mainboard offers a boot menu pressing F12. Would be quite easy to choose your usb disk if you want to use it then. (once you completely installed the system on it)
Also reduces the risk you screw something on the main sytem :p

And why dont you have a CD which is big enough? If you have one available it will suffice. They're all about 700mb in size.

I know how to boot. I was told that if I boot from it, the MBR would always ask if I want to boot from my EHD from that point forward.

Also, the CD's I have are 702 MB. I attempted putting it on the disk. Despite the download saying it was 698 MB, it said I didn't have enough room.
 

bgi39jsjw0ggg

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I know how to boot. I was told that if I boot from it, the MBR would always ask if I want to boot from my EHD from that point forward.

Externally booting won't affect your MBR at all. Basically, using a linux system installed via unetbootin (which should be the software you use, much easier than any of the alternatives available), there will be a whole new MBR created on your USB drive. This then becomes like booting from a CD - no changes are made to your MBR, and your MBR will never EVER try to boot from USB. Your BIOS might try, but that problem goes away if the USB drive isn't plugged in.

Also, the CD's I have are 702 MB. I attempted putting it on the disk. Despite the download saying it was 698 MB, it said I didn't have enough room.

Something doesn't seem right about that, but I just don't care enough right now :)

Okay, now tell us - WHY can't your parents even know about it? I ask for a very good reason, I'm not just trying to snoop.
 

mm3

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You need to install the MBR to the external hard drive, not any drive that's internal. You can do this by specifying /boot as a partition on your USB hard drive itself. About 600MB is suffice. Then, make sure that your system is USB bootable. If in the likely case it is, just choose to boot from it from the one-time boot menu in your BIOS so that it'll load from the External before it does the Internal drives. The GRUB menu will load AFTER this point. When the USB drive is disconnected, GRUB will not appear as it is not present in the system anymore. It will continue to boot to the internal hard drive when the USB drive is not present, and boot Windows normally. Two separate drives, two separate MBRs.

I do not recommend putting USB as a boot device in your load-up settings. If you accidentally leave it connected, and your parents boot it up, you're discovered. Instead, you can rest easy that it would have to be manually selected to boot from (usually F12 during start-up to choose the Boot Menu) to be booted into Ubuntu.

About the CDs: Are you sure you're burning the ISO using an ISO recorder, and not trying to write the file to the CD itself? There's a difference -- one is writing the image as an image, and the other is writing the image as the files that are contained inside the image.

And I'm also curious as to why your parents can't find out, although I've been in a position where I'm on a shared computer... and I installed Ubuntu back in the pre-6.06 days and the parents did backflips. (And tried to get rid of it through Add/Remove Programs). *sigh*.
 

Wegs

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Okay, now tell us - WHY can't your parents even know about it? I ask for a very good reason, I'm not just trying to snoop.

My mom is a control freak, and occasionally locks me out of my computer for literally no reason. I'm trying to instal Linux so I can still go on the computer when I want.
 

bgi39jsjw0ggg

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My mom is a control freak, and occasionally locks me out of my computer for literally no reason. I'm trying to instal Linux so I can still go on the computer when I want.

Ah. So what will happen if she walks in on you using your computer that she thought you were locked out of? This is *your* computer, right? Not one that they'll ever be trying to use? Specifically, what does she do to lock you out?
 

Wegs

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Ah. So what will happen if she walks in on you using your computer that she thought you were locked out of? This is *your* computer, right? Not one that they'll ever be trying to use? Specifically, what does she do to lock you out?

Yes, it is my computer. My mom is never even up in my room much rather on my computer. My mom changed the password for the only account on Vista, so I'm unable to use my computer unless she logs me back in. I'd only be using it at night. My parents are usually asleep by nine, and once I say good night they only come up if for some reason I'm making noise.

About the CDs: Are you sure you're burning the ISO using an ISO recorder, and not trying to write the file to the CD itself? There's a difference -- one is writing the image as an image, and the other is writing the image as the files that are contained inside the image.

I'll have to double-check, but I'm pretty sure I am.
 

Wegs

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Okay, news!

With a lot of help from Dreammaker, I now have an installer for Ubuntu on my flash drive. I was able to boot from it (I had a desktop and such) as a sort of trial run I think. On the desktop it had an icon called "Install Ubuntu" that would permanently install in on my hard drive. New questions, which probably sounds stupid:

-Will I be able to choose which hard drive it is installed to? It was able to recognise my EHD.
-How do I connect to the internet? I have no clue how to through Linux.

Sorry for haing so little clue how to do ANYTHING.
 

Hex

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Okay, news!



-Will I be able to choose which hard drive it is installed to? It was able to recognise my EHD.
-How do I connect to the internet? I have no clue how to through Linux.

Sorry for haing so little clue how to do ANYTHING.

[font="Calibri,Arial"]1. Yes. They won't have the Windows drive letters so you'll have to guess by the sizes which is which.

2. If it's a wired connection, you shouldn't have to do anything. If it's wireless, enter your WEP/WPA key in the network prompt, just like was done with Windows.[/font]
 

Wegs

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[font="Calibri,Arial"]1. Yes. They won't have the Windows drive letters so you'll have to guess by the sizes which is which.

2. If it's a wired connection, you shouldn't have to do anything. If it's wireless, enter your WEP/WPA key in the network prompt, just like was done with Windows.[/font]

1. Okay, awesome. Thanks.

2. It's wireless. I'll try finding the prompt once I've installed later.
 

DotDotDot

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When you go and do this, unplug the internal hard drive cables.

I'm sure you won't do it wrong (even I did it right!), but by unplugging the internal hard drive you can be sure that no changes were made to the internal HD's operating system and it will function normaly.
 

Wegs

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When you go and do this, unplug the internal hard drive cables.

I'm sure you won't do it wrong (even I did it right!), but by unplugging the internal hard drive you can be sure that no changes were made to the internal HD's operating system and it will function normaly.

How would I go about doing this?
 

mm3

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You would need to open up the computer and physically remove the cables from the hard drive. When you're done, then re-attach them. By doing this you won't have to worry about specifying a /boot partition and worry about MBRs, because the installer will have no choice but to install GRUB to the external's MBR. Keep in mind you'll have to format your external drive and lose all data on the drive!

Anyway, once you're done installing, reattach the cables and you'll be set. Boot from the internal drive when you need windows, boot from the USB drive when you need Ubuntu! GRUB will only appear when you choose to boot from the USB Drive, as both drives have completely different MBRs. When the USB drive is not selected to be booted from, the Windows bootloader will be loaded and it will go straight to windows.
 

Wegs

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I installed it properly on to my EHD. Now, after attmpting to boot it, I get greeted with this message:

"GRUB Loading stage1.5.


GRUB loading, please wait...
Error 2"
 
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