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I have only 200Gb of hard disk space on my laptop. But I want to be able to boot multiple OS on it. With the use of an external hard drive. I prefer to install:

  • Ubuntu 10.04
  • Linux Mint
  • Windows XP
  • Windows 7(Main OS, which will be installed on the laptop's hard drive)

I would like to install the first 3 os' on the external hd. I've done some research before coming here and found this one

It said:

Important: Physically disconnect ALL internal hard drives before booting from the CD and performing the install. this will eliminate the possibility of installing to the wrong device and overwriting your MBR. Reattach the drives after completing this tutorial.

Isn't there other ways beside physically disconnecting internal hard drives? Or can I just install the 3 os using my desktop. So that I could physically disconnect the internal drives? But can I still use those OS' in the laptop if I do that? Can the os installed on external hard drives be used on the laptop if I do install it through the use of a desktop.

What kind of partition it should be so that I could install and boot different OS on an external hard drive? this tutorial.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

I don't see why you should disconnect the internal hard drives, probably just a precautionary measure. Recently I did a install of Win 7 on my laptop hard disk and Ubuntu + openSUSE on the External one, without disconnecting and what not. I chose to install Win 7 bootloader on the internal drive, and the Ubuntu one on the external drive.

Here's my suggestion:

  1. Boot from Windows XP CD.
  2. Point it to install onto the external drive. { you will have to goto the "advanced" mode during installation/partitioning }
  3. Next boot from Windows 7 DVD.
  4. Windows 7 will detect the Windows XP installation and will ask if you wish to upgrade, select no, goto clean install mode and let it install on the internal drive. Windows 7 bootloader will be written to the internal drive, and should give the option to boot Windows XP & Windows 7.
  5. Boot from Linux Mint and install it on the external drive. Choose to write grub onto the external drive.
  6. Finally boot from Ubuntu 10.04, and choose to install it to the external drive and the bootloader to the external drive ( here, again, I believe just before the install starts, you'll have to select advanced mode and select to install the bootloader to the external drive).
  7. Finally, select the first boot device from the BIOS as the external hard disk ( USB, I guess). This is because,since Ubuntu was installed last and the bootloader was written to external drive, grub will detect all OS's - Mint, XP, Win 7 and Ubuntu and you can choose which to load.

Your partitions will be something like

  • NTFS partition of reasonable size on the internal drive for Windows 7
  • NTFS partition of reasonable size on the external drive for Windows XP
  • A fairly large NTFS partition, where you can store all your documents, media, downloads et al - and this will be common across all OS
  • An ext3/ext4 / partition for Linux Mint
  • An ext3/ext4 / partition for Ubuntu
  • A common /swap partition of type swap for both Ubuntu & Mint
  • A common /home partition of type ext3/ext4 for both Ubuntu & Mint

You can select partition sizes as you deem fit, since you haven't mentioned the sizes I cannot say for sure how much you might require.

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So I can't boot a single os if I disconnect the external drive? – soul Jul 23 '10 at 2:09
@Nrew if you disconnect the external drive, your internal hard disk will be accessed and you can go ahead with booting Win 7 – Sathya Jul 23 '10 at 2:10
Actually, Windows 7 will not ask you if you want to upgrade from XP, since it's not an option. – Hello71 Jul 23 '10 at 2:16
@Hello Thanks, wasn't sure about that. – Sathya Jul 23 '10 at 2:49
@sathya: so I can only see windows 7 on my boot loader if I disconnect the external hd? And I will automatically see more options on the boot loader if I connect the external? – soul Jul 23 '10 at 4:17

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