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Can I boot my Windows XP SP3 / Ubuntu Linux Netbook 10.04 netbook pc from my Ubuntu Linux 10.04 desktop pc using a usb adapter cable and boot the netbook from the desktop?
I have the following error on boot

error: no such partition
grub rescue>

ls returns the following result

(hd0) (hd0,4) (hd0,3) (hd0,2) (hd0,1)

I have tried to restore grub 2 on the Master Boot Record but have no terminal command line available.
I have tried usb pendrive linux without success.
I have no external optical drive for the Ubuntu live CD or DVD.
Short of buying an external optical drive, do I have any other options?

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Your netbook's BIOS boot options define whether or not you need to buy an external optical drive. Grub seems to notice only partitions on your netbook's internal hd: I'd enable all other available options in the BIOS, then re-try your pendrive (that's a USB connected flash drive, right? Just checking, but the linux instance on that drive has to be properly installed on the flash drive to be bootable).

What kind of "usb adapter cable" do you have? Is it a USB-to-SATA (or PATA, or SCSI) cable? (Do consider getting one, as they can be handy for situations like this.) If so, you can also remove your desktop's hard drive (or its optical drive), connect it to the netbook via said USB cable, and boot from there.

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you cannot, in general, connect two USB host devices together - the 'closest' thing to that was the firewire disk mode on PPC era macs.

Basically there's two (and a half) types of USB devices - Hosts that use type A plugs, and devices, which use type B, mini (a or b) and micro USB ports (there's also USB OTG, which is supposed to be able to act as both a device and a guest). Of course for some odd reason, portable HDDs often use type A connections, which is incorrect according to the conventions

Your best bet is to get an optical drive with a USB interface or to bootstrap the XP install from a USB pen drive for example, like this

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