Can I install Linux on an external drive and dual boot it with Windows 7 on my laptop?

Robert May 24, 2011
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I have a new laptop with Windows 7. Instead of partitioning the hard drive, I would like to get an external drive, install Linux (Fedora) and be able to dual boot either OS. Is this possible?

  1. Josh Fox
    May 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    Just a note to add here... While running an operating system from an external hard drive will work, keep in mind that a USB port is not as fast as a SATA or IDE connection to the hard drive, so you will most likely notice performance loss, especially if you do many things at the same time.

    • Skinnx86
      September 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      Wait a little bit for usb 3.0 to be a bit cheaper / more mainstream, or use eSATA :-)

  2. FIDELIS
    May 24, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Hello, connect your external hard drive and then restart computer.  When restarting make sure you go into BIOS by pressing del, f1, etc.  It all depends on BIOS manufacturer.  Once you enter BIOS, go into boot devices and see if there is an entry there for hdd external/usb.  If there is an entry in your BIOS, set that entry as the first boot device and if linux is already installed, it should boot up from this first.  Some BIOS do not allow this.    

  3. Anonymous
    May 24, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    Does your systems BIOS recognize it as a valid boot devices?, make sure you can boot the hard drive in
    the BIOS though, the install will install a bootloader on the MBR (master boot
    record) of the internal drive so you can boot;

    Boot Linux from a FireWire device
    http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/library/l-fireboot/index.html

    ther is a discuccion here if Cannot boot without external HDD
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1418411

    Installing Ubuntu on External USB HDD
    http://www.belutz.net/2007/04/13/installing-ubuntu-on-external-usb-hdd/