plz! hlp! on ubuntu

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Thread Starter
Oct 2, 2008
Hello every one
i have been on my pc trying to figure out how the ubuntu works. ive heard that dual booting works but im afraid of damaging my system also my hard drive is pretty small...its only like 18GB its a big hassle so i bought a external hard drive of 250GB is it possible to partition that external drive and run ubuntu on that just to use like 15GB off the external.. plz help just want to make sure that nothing will happen to my system


Jan 17, 2004
I have Fedora Linux installed on a external drive which boots fine when adding the grub lines into my SUSE Grub boot loader. The main vital point is to get to know your drives and the various partitions on each, so as to not mix them up during a Linux install, (sda1 is the first drive and 1rst partition, and sdb1 is the second drive). Here are some helpful web sites to look at; , and this site has a good Linux partition tool to use; , which you can boot to that Gparted live CD, and create, edit, delete, or re-size partitions on both internal and external drives. I use the eSATA connection rather than USB to connect my external hard drive.
Jul 8, 2008
First of all, since the obvious use of an external drive is to backup the setup of your internal drive, know that you will be able to divide your external drive (just like any other) into 2 (at least) partitions.

For starters, from within windows, access your external drive and defrag it.

Then, you will be able to use any of a number of utilities that come with linux distributions to rearange the partitions of the external drive:
Since all the files were moved together in the external, those utilities can now shrink the existing partition with data, and in the empty room that is created, create a new partition to install Linux.

Linux will (in all probability) have to use its own type of partition, called "ext3". This type of partition cannot be accessed by windows. In fact if you have 250GB drive into which you allocate an ext3 partition of 15GB, then windows will show it as a 235GB drive. For windows, ext3 doesnt exist. As far as I can tell that is a good thing, too.

Now, there are a lot of different linux distributions. While they all use the Linux Kernel (the very core of everything), that doesnt mean the rest is the same. The look of the desktop can vary between distributions, and some may not even have a graphical desktop at all (why? because it is usefull for servers where a gui is not needed, for instance).

So you have to choose a distibution that is convenient for you.
Personally, I have been using Linux for a week, and I am already prefering it to windows.

Now, each distribution is different, and uses different tools when installing it. Since I am using Ubuntu Linux, I will talk about that.

To begin with, download the latest release of Ubuntu Linux (version 8.04). It is completely free, and if your internet is slow you can request for a CD to be mailed to you free of charge.

First of all, you can run a "test drive" of ubuntu without writing a single file in any of your drives. After you have the image of the CD downloaded and have burned it onto a CD (with a utility like imgburn-, restart the computer and boot from the disk.

You will see an option for a Live CD session or Test session or similar. Choose that, and after just a little bit ubuntu will start.

This will be just like the real thing, only qute slower, since the cd takes much more to read than a hard drive.

This way you can have a look at the desktop, file organisation, etc.
I found the appearance very slick and streamlined as well as easy to use.
There are the familiar windows with the minimize, maximize, close (x) buttons, their File, Edit, View menus, as you know them from Win. There is a panel at the bottom that is like the taskbar of windows, where the open programs appear. There is a button called "Applications" that is like the windows start menu. You will also see the date and time on a corner of the screen.

Already you can open some example documents, provided for you by the os. Installing an application is extremely fast and easy, and usually free.

Click on the Applications menu, the last option is add/remove programs.
Unlike Windows, here you really CAN add programs this way, its not named add/remove for nothing.
Just choose a category (for example, Internet or Games or Sound and Video or Office) see the list of progs available and put a tick next to the ones you want. When you are done, click Apply Changes, and the requested progs are downloaded (if neccesary), installed and are available for use immediately. No restart needed. You can use them immediately.

Also, right of the bat Ubuntu has installed the applications, that are full-fledged equivalents to Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access etc. They lack none of the features of MS' products. They have their own save filetype, but can just as easily open microsoft office filetypes (.doc,.xls,ppt, etc), and even save a file as one of those filetypes, if you wish. So, you have more or less full compatibility.

All this software is made by the linux community, who works diligently only to provide people with a better computing experience, unlike some other company that very obviously only cares about inflating its market share and income.

Now, when you try to install ubuntu, a partition manager will automatically come up, and will show you all detected drives. Along with the internal hard drive, the external should show up. Although it is possible to resize the windows partition and make a linux partition on the same drive, it will be probably be a better idea for you to act on the external drive.

You resize the existing partition of the external drive with a simple slider, then choose the empty space to be used for ubuntu's new partition. (which is as much as you want, but if you keep this installation, you will find it will quickly fill with data even if you thought 15gb is enough).

(in this point, a part of this space will be automatically used as "swap" partition by linux, this is normal, don't prevent it, it is the swap file linux uses).

After a few more simple questions like your time zone, installation procceeds. You may even have to reboot, but just once. Not tens of times. Chances are almost everything in your PC will be working just fine right off the bat. This includes sound cards, pci cards, drives, scanners, printers, modems, ethernet, etc. There are severe issues with new ATI graphics cards however, so if you are asked to install a restricted driver for an ati card, you may want to postpone that until you google around if there are any issues with it.

Since the Windows drive is only 18GB and the external is 250, you should have no trouble telling which is which, just by their size (linux doesnt use the A: B: C: D: drive letters, but has its own notation).

The only thing that will be touched in the windows drive during this operation, is the MBR (master boot record). This is a tiny part of the drive (512 bytes or so) at the very start of your primary (windows) disk, that "points" the computer to where it should go in the drive to launch the operating system. Linux will detect the existense of windows and will modify the MBR with a utility called GRUB. This will display a menu everytime the computer starts, that will ask you, if you want to boot windows or Linux. It has worked flawlessly for me.

That's it, you're done!
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