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I don't have much to do right now, and I decided to experiment a bit with the possibility of installing an OS on an external hard drive.

I am currently running Windows Vista SP2. I have several Linux ISO's and also an official ISO for Windows 7 Professional.

I have an external hard drive with about 200GB free space on it.

The situation I'd like to achieve is as follows.

Starting situation: Both computer and hard drive are not running. I start the computer without starting the hard drive -> Windows Vista starts.

Let's say I turn on the hard drive before turning on the computer. What I want is the computer to show me all possible OS's that I've installed on the hard drive, allowing me to choose one.

I realize this is risky business, since if the power for the hard drive drops out, you'll have a running computer with no acces to the actuall OS.

So, is this even possible, I wonder?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Windows is not designed to run from USB drives but it is not entirely impossible to do so. (here's a wiki)

most Linux distrubutions can be installed on USB drives, if this option is not supported natively, Unetbootin will help to achieve the goal.

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Gonna try this out. I'll accept once I've done an install succesfully. Gonna try Crunchbang linux 9.04.01 – KdgDev Sep 16 '09 at 15:11
i'm using crunchbang on a USB stick myself, works fine. – Molly7244 Sep 16 '09 at 15:34
Couldn't get it to work. Checked my bios, USB was on top of both the normal and the network list. No options were given, Vista just started... – KdgDev Sep 16 '09 at 22:26
no Boot Options Menu (F12 or ESC)? – Molly7244 Sep 16 '09 at 22:33
nothing at all, sadly. – KdgDev Sep 21 '09 at 16:15

Windows will not allow you to install to an external (USB) drive. I can't speak for Linux.

Reference: Raymond Chen's Old New Thing.

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