Re: booting from USB hard drives.

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Lodi, Jun 17, 2009.

  1. Lodi

    Lodi Guest

    > fakename wrote:

    > Hi folks,
    > I been down this road before and I'd really like to find a product to
    > solve my needs.
    >
    > All I want to do is boot from a USB hard drive.
    >
    > As I said, I have been down this road before looking for a solution.
    >
    > My Dell bios setup has a setting to turn on booting from USB devices.
    > Next to this feature is some help notes that indicate clearly that not
    > all USB devices are bootable which I tend to believe.
    >
    > OK..
    > I have several USB memory sticks and readers, all of which I can set to
    > boot from no problem.
    >
    > I also have several USB hard drives but when set to boot from in the
    > exact same manner, they will not boot.
    >
    > Now, back to the bios setting which indicates that not all USB devices
    > are bootable. I see this as a message that I should just buy a bootable
    > USB drive or drive-case.
    >
    > When you go to a store to look for such a thing, the store attendants
    > have no clue of such a thing.
    >
    > Nor do the retail packaging of many products indicate so.
    >
    > I'm sure they are out there.
    >
    > So my question is... is anyone out there booting from USB hard drives?
    >
    > If so, how or what kind of drive should I buy to achieve this.
    >
    > I have seagates, and western digitals os various models, none will boot
    > from the USB port.
    >
    > I remind you that my memory sticks will..
    >
    > Please get back to me somebody.
    > Thanks
    >
    >


    I predict this thread will turn into an OS war because you haven't specified
    your choice of operating system.

    But what you want to do is really straightforward in Ubuntu from version
    8.10 onwards. It's actually one of the menu options "USB startup disk
    creator". Works with pretty much all thumb drives and usb disks.

    Regards
    Lodi
     
    Lodi, Jun 17, 2009
    #1
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  2. Lodi

    Lodi Guest

    > On Jun 18, 4:22 am, fakename <> wrote:
    >
    > More to this.... yes, I'm running XP pro, but thats not what I'm trying
    > to boot to via the USB. So I don't see that thats an issue.
    >
    > --



    Still can't help you sorry. But the reason I mentioned the operating
    system is that you need to access the USB drive to install an
    operating system onto it. And the only way I can see to do that is
    from a running MS/Linux/Apple/etc computer. Hence my mentioning the
    operating system as Ubuntu has a built-in application for just this
    purpose i.e installing Ubuntu to an external USB drive.

    If you're looking to purchase an external USB drive with XP/Vista/
    whatever pre-installed then I'm pretty sure that doesn't exist. Happy
    to be proven wrong.

    As an aside, don't you need to purchase another licence if you want to
    install an MS operating system onto another device. Can't see them you
    letting you install onto two hard drives when you've only paid for
    one.

    Please keep us updated cos I'm pretty sure I haven't quite grasped the
    problem and I'm curious as to how this turns out.

    Regards
    Lodi
     
    Lodi, Jun 17, 2009
    #2
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  3. In message <PK8_l.215430$1.easynews.com>, fakename
    wrote:

    > ... yes, I'm running XP pro, but thats not what I'm trying
    > to boot to via the USB.


    What bootloader have you got on the USB drive, and what does its config look
    like?
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 18, 2009
    #3
  4. Lodi

    victor Guest

    fakename wrote:

    >
    > Sorry, I'm running XP Pro. Service pack 3
    >
    >

    It might be a limitation of your BIOS, a workaround might be to put a
    bootloader on a USB key that points to the OS on the USB HD.
     
    victor, Jun 18, 2009
    #4
  5. Lodi

    ~misfit~ Guest

    Somewhere on teh intarwebs fakename wrote:
    > fakename wrote:
    >> Lodi wrote:
    >>>> On Jun 18, 4:22 am, fakename <> wrote:
    >>>>
    >>>> More to this.... yes, I'm running XP pro, but thats not what I'm
    >>>> trying to boot to via the USB. So I don't see that thats an issue.
    >>>>
    >>>> --
    >>>
    >>>
    >>> Still can't help you sorry. But the reason I mentioned the operating
    >>> system is that you need to access the USB drive to install an
    >>> operating system onto it. And the only way I can see to do that is
    >>> from a running MS/Linux/Apple/etc computer. Hence my mentioning the
    >>> operating system as Ubuntu has a built-in application for just this
    >>> purpose i.e installing Ubuntu to an external USB drive.
    >>>
    >>> If you're looking to purchase an external USB drive with XP/Vista/
    >>> whatever pre-installed then I'm pretty sure that doesn't exist.
    >>> Happy to be proven wrong.
    >>>
    >>> As an aside, don't you need to purchase another licence if you want
    >>> to install an MS operating system onto another device. Can't see
    >>> them you letting you install onto two hard drives when you've only
    >>> paid for one.
    >>>
    >>> Please keep us updated cos I'm pretty sure I haven't quite grasped
    >>> the problem and I'm curious as to how this turns out.
    >>>
    >>> Regards
    >>> Lodi
    >>>

    >>
    >> I've tried a couple of techniques, examples... format a DOS bootable
    >> drive and using my Acronis Home Image software to create a bootable
    >> recovery disk. Both these techniques work if I perform the the
    >> operation to a memory stick. If I perform the operation to a hard
    >> drive everything executes smoothly as you would expect. Except when
    >> I plug in the hard drive to the USB port it wont boot. Memory sticks
    >> will. One more technique I have been doing is what I have been ultimately
    >> trying to do and that is, install Open Solaris to a hard drive. I
    >> plug in drive to USB port. Insert Open Solaris disk (DVD type) then
    >> install to the drive plugged into the USB port. Everything excutes
    >> just fine but still, it wont boot from the USB port.
    >>
    >> If I do the same operation but with the drive pushed into the drive
    >> bay of my laptop then of course it works just fine but I dont want
    >> to be pissin around with screw drivers etc each time I want to
    >> quickly test a multi platform app.
    >>
    >> Sun has the Virtual box thing but that seems a tad unstable.
    >>
    >> Some people are mentioning they are booting from USB drives but are
    >> installing some other software to handle botting? Is that correct? If
    >> so, what happens when you dont actually have the drive in the USB
    >> port? Thanks

    >
    > btw, I don't want to just partition my internal drive and setup a
    > multi OS system.
    >
    > I don;t see why you cant just boot to the gawd drive plugged into the
    > USB port. I'm sure if I could find a large enough thumb drive it would
    > work. Why not hard drive?


    I haven't tried this myself and don't have a spare HDD that I can throw in
    an external enclosure right now to try it. However, I'm following the thread
    with interest. Good luck, hopefully you can resolve it and let us know how
    you did it.

    Cheers,
    --
    Shaun.

    "Build a man a fire, and he`ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and
    he`ll be warm for the rest of his life." Terry Pratchett, Jingo.
     
    ~misfit~, Jun 19, 2009
    #5
  6. In message <9ms_l.151690$1.easynews.com>, fakename
    wrote:

    > Both these techniques work if I perform the the operation
    > to a memory stick.


    Are you using a Memory Stick reader as well? I thought you were using USB
    drives.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 19, 2009
    #6
  7. In message <Bws_l.168111$1.easynews.com>, fakename
    wrote:

    > Why not hard drive?


    Wrong bootloader?
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 19, 2009
    #7
  8. In message <JPP_l.150392$1.easynews.com>, fakename
    wrote:

    > it works with memory sticks of all kinds.


    How many kinds are there? I thought only Sony made Memory Sticks.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 19, 2009
    #8
  9. Lodi

    Lodi Guest

    > fakename wrote:


    >
    > I'm wanting to use a hard drive. I only explain the use of a memory
    > stick for explanation and comparison reasons... ie.. it works with
    > memory sticks of all kinds. I want to do the same with hard drive.
    >


    Don't suppose it's something as simple as needing a usb y-cable?

    http://tinyurl.com/mfjq5j

    Lodi
     
    Lodi, Jun 19, 2009
    #9
  10. Lodi

    Gordon Guest

    On 2009-06-19, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <_zealand> wrote:
    > In message <JPP_l.150392$1.easynews.com>, fakename
    > wrote:
    >
    >> it works with memory sticks of all kinds.

    >
    > How many kinds are there? I thought only Sony made Memory Sticks.
    >

    Really, Lawerence. Try the spirit of the posting, and not the need to be
    somewhat "silly". At the least put a :) in there eh?
     
    Gordon, Jun 20, 2009
    #10
  11. Lodi

    Richard Guest

    Gordon wrote:

    >>> it works with memory sticks of all kinds.

    >> How many kinds are there? I thought only Sony made Memory Sticks.
    >>

    > Really, Lawerence. Try the spirit of the posting, and not the need to be
    > somewhat "silly". At the least put a :) in there eh?


    Not really, if someone says memory stick and means a USB thumbdrive or
    similar then they are providing misleading information.

    There are many makers of memory sticks - licened and unlicensed, and
    there are also many types of it (I think that the variety of them takes
    about half of the formats on the 20something in one reader I have)
     
    Richard, Jun 20, 2009
    #11
  12. Lodi

    ~misfit~ Guest

    Somewhere on teh intarwebs Richard wrote:
    > Gordon wrote:
    >
    >>>> it works with memory sticks of all kinds.
    >>> How many kinds are there? I thought only Sony made Memory Sticks.
    >>>

    >> Really, Lawerence. Try the spirit of the posting, and not the need
    >> to be somewhat "silly". At the least put a :) in there eh?

    >
    > Not really, if someone says memory stick and means a USB thumbdrive or
    > similar then they are providing misleading information.


    I wouldn't say 'providing misleading information' as that gives the
    impression of deliberate disception. "memory stick" is as good a description
    as "thumbdrive" and a lot mare accurate as it's neither a thumb or a drive.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_other_names_are_there_for_a_'USB_flash_drive'

    See number two on the list?

    Now if it'd been capitalised as Larry wrote it then one would expect that it
    were a Sony format.
    --
    Shaun.

    "Build a man a fire, and he`ll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and
    he`ll be warm for the rest of his life." Terry Pratchett, Jingo.

    > There are many makers of memory sticks - licened and unlicensed, and
    > there are also many types of it (I think that the variety of them
    > takes about half of the formats on the 20something in one reader I
    > have)
     
    ~misfit~, Jun 20, 2009
    #12
  13. Lodi

    impossible Guest

    "Richard" <> wrote in message
    news:h1hu6q$v2t$...
    > Gordon wrote:
    >
    >>>> it works with memory sticks of all kinds.
    >>> How many kinds are there? I thought only Sony made Memory Sticks.
    >>>

    >> Really, Lawerence. Try the spirit of the posting, and not the need to be
    >> somewhat "silly". At the least put a :) in there eh?

    >
    > Not really, if someone says memory stick and means a USB thumbdrive or
    > similar then they are providing misleading information.
    >
    > There are many makers of memory sticks - licened and unlicensed, and there
    > are also many types of it (I think that the variety of them takes about
    > half of the formats on the 20something in one reader I have)


    Lawyering again for Larry D'Loser? Fact is, to all but the hopelessly
    pedantic, "memory stick" , "thumb drive", and "flash drive" are generic
    terms for NAND-type flash memory devices with a USB interface. If your
    client is getting paid by Sony to shill a particular brand name, tell him to
    take it elsewhere.
     
    impossible, Jun 20, 2009
    #13
  14. Lodi

    thingy Guest

    On Jun 18, 10:33 am, Lodi <> wrote:
    > > On Jun 18, 4:22 am, fakename <> wrote:

    >
    > > More to this.... yes, I'm running XP pro, but thats not what I'm trying
    > > to boot to via the USB. So I don't see that thats an issue.

    >
    > > --

    >
    > Still can't help you sorry. But the reason I mentioned the operating
    > system is that you need to access the USB drive to install an
    > operating system onto it. And the only way I can see to do that is
    > from a running MS/Linux/Apple/etc computer. Hence my mentioning the
    > operating system as Ubuntu has a built-in application for just this
    > purpose i.e installing Ubuntu to an external USB drive.
    >
    > If you're looking to purchase an external USB drive with XP/Vista/
    > whatever pre-installed then I'm pretty sure that doesn't exist. Happy
    > to be proven wrong.
    >
    > As an aside, don't you need to purchase another licence if you want to
    > install an MS operating system onto another device. Can't see them you
    > letting you install onto two hard drives when you've only paid for
    > one.
    >
    > Please keep us updated cos I'm pretty sure I haven't quite grasped the
    > problem and I'm curious as to how this turns out.
    >
    > Regards
    > Lodi


    Its a per computer licence....not per disk as far as I can tell.

    regards

    Thing
     
    thingy, Jun 21, 2009
    #14
  15. Lodi

    thingy Guest

    On Jun 19, 2:41 am, fakename <> wrote:
    > Lodi wrote:
    > >> On Jun 18, 4:22 am, fakename <> wrote:

    >
    > >> More to this.... yes, I'm running XP pro, but thats not what I'm trying
    > >> to boot to via the USB. So I don't see that thats an issue.

    >
    > >> --

    >
    > > Still can't help you sorry. But the reason I mentioned the operating
    > > system is that you need to access the USB drive to install an
    > > operating system onto it. And the only way I can see to do that is
    > > from a running MS/Linux/Apple/etc computer. Hence my mentioning the
    > > operating system as Ubuntu has a built-in application for just this
    > > purpose i.e installing Ubuntu to an external USB drive.

    >
    > > If you're looking to purchase an external USB drive with XP/Vista/
    > > whatever pre-installed then I'm pretty sure that doesn't exist. Happy
    > > to be proven wrong.

    >
    > > As an aside, don't you need to purchase another licence if you want to
    > > install an MS operating system onto another device. Can't see them you
    > > letting you install onto two hard drives when you've only paid for
    > > one.

    >
    > > Please keep us updated cos I'm pretty sure I haven't quite grasped the
    > > problem and I'm curious as to how this turns out.

    >
    > > Regards
    > > Lodi

    >
    > I've tried a couple of techniques, examples... format a DOS bootable
    > drive and using my Acronis Home Image software to create a bootable
    > recovery disk. Both these techniques work if I perform the the operation
    > to a memory stick. If I perform the operation to a hard drive everything
    > executes smoothly as you would expect. Except when I plug in the hard
    > drive to the USB port it wont boot. Memory sticks will.
    >
    > One more technique I have been doing is what I have been ultimately
    > trying to do and that is, install Open Solaris to a hard drive. I plug
    > in drive to USB port. Insert Open Solaris disk (DVD type) then install
    > to the drive plugged into the USB port. Everything excutes just fine but
    > still, it wont boot from the USB port.
    >
    > If I do the same operation but with the drive pushed into the drive bay
    > of my laptop then of course it works just fine but I dont want to be
    > pissin around with screw drivers etc each time I want to quickly test a
    > multi platform app.
    >
    > Sun has the Virtual box thing but that seems a tad unstable.
    >
    > Some people are mentioning they are booting from USB drives but are
    > installing some other software to handle botting? Is that correct? If
    > so, what happens when you dont actually have the drive in the USB port?
    >
    > Thanks
    > --
    > Tane
    > real email: t a n e @ m u g w h y . c o m


    Add another drive internally? Solaris can be very picky on
    hardware....a way round it is to boot VMware's esxi off a 2gb usb key
    and install solaris as a virtual machine...you will need a second MS
    based computer to do this though. However Vmware ESXi is also picky on
    sata controllers and NICs....so it depends on your hardware...

    regards

    Thing
     
    thingy, Jun 21, 2009
    #15
  16. Lodi

    Woger Guest

    On Sat, 20 Jun 2009 16:41:17 -0700 (PDT), thingy <>
    wrote:

    >On Jun 19, 2:41 am, fakename <> wrote:
    >> Lodi wrote:
    >> >> On Jun 18, 4:22 am, fakename <> wrote:

    >>
    >> >> More to this.... yes, I'm running XP pro, but thats not what I'm trying
    >> >> to boot to via the USB. So I don't see that thats an issue.

    >




    In my case the BIOS setting for USB is only active if the USB device is
    connected and may be bootable..
     
    Woger, Jun 21, 2009
    #16
  17. Lodi

    peterwn Guest

    On Jun 17, 5:09 pm, Lodi <> wrote:
    <snip>

    There are two aspects to look for:

    1. Characteristics of the computer's BIOS. There are two
    possibilities:
    a. If the machine is too old the BIOS may not have the capability.
    b. There are two ways of formatting a USB stick or similar device:
    i. Like a floppy - there is a boot sector at 0 followed immediately
    by a FAT, then root directory.
    ii. Like a hard disk - with a MBR and PT followed by (usually) a
    single FAT16 or FAT32 partition. There is no theoretical reason why
    multiple partitions cannot be used, or alternative file systems such
    as NTFS, ext2, ext3, etc. It is possible that non FAT file systems
    may impede operation of wear spreading algorithms.

    Some BIOS's are fussy and do not like i or ii, I think that i is the
    generally disliked one.

    2. Assuming 1. is overcome, the stick must actually be bootable.
    This requires:
    a. Appropriate booting code on the MBR as found on a normal HD. USB
    stick MBR's do not necessarily have this code, so it needs to be
    'installed' by some means or other.
    b. The partition may need to be declared 'bootable' in its partition
    table (PT) entry (usually done with 'fdisk' or similar software.
    c. Similarly for the boot sector needs to have appropriate boot code.

    Information sources on how to do this seem to be chaotic - I am
    unaware of the existence of a simple 'Howto' on this.

    Hope this helps.

    Good luck!
     
    peterwn, Jun 21, 2009
    #17
  18. In message <7183d26a-503d-4a32-
    >, peterwn wrote:

    > a. If the machine is too old the BIOS may not have the capability.


    Surely either the BIOS supports booting from USB storage devices or it
    doesn't.

    > b. There are two ways of formatting a USB stick or similar device:
    > i. Like a floppy - there is a boot sector at 0 followed immediately
    > by a FAT, then root directory.
    > ii. Like a hard disk - with a MBR and PT followed by (usually) a
    > single FAT16 or FAT32 partition. There is no theoretical reason why
    > multiple partitions cannot be used, or alternative file systems such
    > as NTFS, ext2, ext3, etc.


    In either case, there is bootloader code in sector 0 to be loaded into RAM
    and jumped to, which is all the BIOS needs to know. The BIOS knows nothing
    about partitioning or filesystems.

    > It is possible that non FAT file systems may impede operation of wear
    > spreading algorithms.


    I don't see how. In any case, wear-spreading operates at the sector level.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 22, 2009
    #18
  19. In message <h1mjhn$b8s$>, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:

    > In either case, there is bootloader code in sector 0 to be loaded into RAM
    > and jumped to, which is all the BIOS needs to know. The BIOS knows nothing
    > about partitioning or filesystems.


    It turns out there is one difference, namely whether the drive firmware
    indicates that the drive is "fixed" or "removable"
    <http://www.boot-land.net/forums/?showtopic=4560>. "Fixed" devices are
    treated as hard drives, "removable" ones like floppies.
     
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 22, 2009
    #19
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