I have one USB drive with installed ubuntu 14.04LTS Bootable. I then have another usb stick ( 32GB high speed ) and I want to install ubuntu on that one so I can use it as a normal installation. (I don't want the just try ubuntu feature. I want a full installation where I can download applications and keep them etc )

My question is: If I boot from the bootable USB Flash drive on my laptop and follow the "install ubuntu" flow to install it on my other USB flash drive, is there any chance that GRUB may be installed on my laptops HDD and/or create boot problems on my Windows installation?

I want just to install ubuntu on that usb flash drive and NOT TOUCH the internal HDD at all. Removing the HDD is not an option as I will loose warranty and I do not have any other pc/laptop available here.

  • why not just use the live edition? – td512 May 27 '15 at 22:00

It depends on you where you want to install the new Ubuntu system. Bsically, there are two critical points.

First, you will be asked to chose on which medium to install Ubuntu. You will be offered the choice between the HDD and the USB stick. Make sure you pick the right one. One way to make sure is to look at available media before installing, i.e. in the phase Try Ubuntu without installing. Open a console, then issue one of two following commands:

sudo fdisk -l 
sudo gdisk -l 

(Normally you will need the second if and only if the HDD has a GPT partition table). In any case, these commands will present enough info (size and partition table) about the disks to allow you to identify the HDD and the USB sticks. Please keep in mind that data pertaining to the installation USB stick will also be presented, so that actually you will have three disks (one HDD and 2 sticks) for which to determine whether they are dev/sda, /dev/sdb, /devsdc.

The second point is where you want to mount GRUB, which depends on the use you intend to make of the USB stick. Do you plan to use you it as a standalone on other pcs as well? Then you should make sure that GRUB makes no reference to any OS on the HDD, and you should have it mounted on the USB stick. The second part is easy: during installation you will be asked where you want GRUB, just make sure you answer with the /dev/sdX for the USB stick. As to the first part, after installation you can remove any reference to OSes on other disks by following any of the methods suggested by Pro BackUp in this unix.stackechange.com answer. Now, in order to boot from the USB stick, you will have to go to the BIOS and choose the USB stick as a higher priority than the HDD.

If instead you think you will always be using the USB with this pc, you may as well reply that you wish GRUB to reside on the HDD. This way you will not have to go into the BIOS to select Ubuntu over Windows, and you will be presented with the choice of OS to boot at every boot.

  • I want to use the flash drive on other laptops too and I want for sure NOT to touch the laptop's HDD. I am a bit afraid to go on with this as I want to be 100% sure that no mistake will be done. I might try to get another pc that I can remove the HDD and have the system free from HDD – Panos May 27 '15 at 22:18
  • @Panos why not just use the live USB with a bit of persistent storage? No install is needed, and everything is contained on the USB that you were going to use for installing ubuntu – td512 May 28 '15 at 0:03
  • @TD.512 - I had created this way in an older version of ubuntu. Now I created the bootable USB on a mac and it did't give me any option to choose to have a persistent parition – Panos May 28 '15 at 0:27

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