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I have a 320 GB portable and external hard disk. Is there a way I can make partitions on it, just like we make partitions on the hard disk that comes already in our laptops?

Out of these partitions, I want to install Ubuntu 11 on one partition and make the rest of the partition for data storage purposes.

Would I have to format the hard disk first, because it contains a lot of files, that I need to use later on.

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If you start the install of Ubuntu with the drive connected you can specify the external drive as the target and partition it as you would the internal drive.

Note: unless you can remove the primary drive before installation, you will need to install grub to the external drive NOT sda

Then you would need to set the machine to boot from USB-Hard drive in the BIOS or choose the drive at boot time, depends on the machine but on the HP boxes at work you need to press F9 for the 'one time' boot menu

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elaborate the "unless you can remove" part, didn't get you clearly – Jatin Ganhotra May 20 '11 at 20:09
physically remove the drive from the machine, if a desktop you can just pull either the data or power cable from the drive – deveneyi May 20 '11 at 20:14

You make partitions on external drives just the same as making partitions on your main hard drive.

Would I have to format the hard disk first, because it contains a lot of files, that I need to use later on.

Good modern partition software - yes, even free software - can resize both NTFS and FAT partitions (i.e. Windows partitions). So it should be possible to keep all your existing data by resizing the one and only partition on the drive, and then creating new partitions. Only the new partitions would be formatted. The Ubuntu partition should not need to be the first one. It is however highly advisable to back up all your data first in case something goes horribly wrong.

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Throw some light on how to make partitions or say install Ubuntu on the hard disk. Consider me someone, with a bare min knowledge of these things – Jatin Ganhotra May 20 '11 at 20:10
You can make partitions during the Ubuntu installation, I think. Have you tried Googling around on this? It's fairly well documented. – Robin Green May 20 '11 at 20:13

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