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I have a Lenovo Ideapad with Windows XP installed. I do not want to mess with the boot loader or the hard disk partitioning.

I can run Ubuntu Netbook Edition off a SD card without touching the hard disk at all. I can even enable the persistence mode (that would save the data on the SD card, right?).

Since the SD card is rather slow compared to the internal hard disk (I think), I would like to use the hard disk for persistence and ideally also for the read-only root file system (the part that now comes from SD). However, this needs to work with an NTFS (or maybe FAT-32) volume, with unrelated files on it as well. I am thinking this could be done, because the SD is now also formatted with FAT-32.

Ideally, the SD card would only be needed to boot from (and then find its stuff on the hard disk, in regular Windows files).

Can this be done?

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If the SD card is slow, and the hard disk is fast (which is true), then why would you want to boot off the SD card? Wouldn't that double your wait times? – digitxp Dec 17 '10 at 3:03
I do not want to mess with the boot sector on the hard disk. Booting off the SD (as in only loading LILO or some minimal bootstrap Ubuntu, and then running off the hard disk) should be faster than running completely off the SD (which is what I am doing now). The only reason the SD remains at all is to stop the machine from booting into Windows. I'd like to remove the SD after Ubuntu is up an running. – Thilo Dec 17 '10 at 3:31

This process is a relatively reasonable way to make sure your boot sector isn't could use loopback filesystems, but it is a little complicated.

here's a tutorial on booting an iso with grub...:

you could then chain together some boot scripts to get all your partitions arranged properly... it involves setting up files as partitions and losetup: the man page

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+1 if you can find a tutorial about this. – Thilo Dec 17 '10 at 9:05
enough or do you need more? – RobotHumans Dec 17 '10 at 9:13
enough for your +1, but if there is more, I'll take it :-) – Thilo Dec 17 '10 at 13:05

This is very difficult to do. Much mkre difficult than creating a small partition and just going through a simple mbr such as grub. Why is it that you don't want to do this?

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I don't want to touch the hard disk (with anything other than files that Windows can see), especially not the boot process. And I also don't understand where the difficult part is exactly. It runs fine completely off the FAT-32 on the SD. All I need it to do is tell the boot loader (on the SD) that it should find those files somewhere else. But maybe I am missing something here. – Thilo Dec 17 '10 at 5:55

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