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Installing Linux on an external HD

  1. Jan 16, 2015 #1
    Hey, I am taking a CFD class using OpenFOAM. The software in Linux based and I would like to install this OS on an old hard drive I pulled from a SONY VAIO. The problem is...I have never installed full Linux before (let alone on external media, but I have a ~2008 version of Slax on cd) and I don't want to do a dual boot and risk ruining my new Asus. Any help or tips aside from "use google"?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 17, 2015 #2
  4. Aug 17, 2015 #3
    It is not recommended to install Slax to hard drive and that is from the developers themselves. Slax was designed as a compressed, on-the-fly, LIVE system, so if one wants it on hard drive they recommend you just copy it as is and use their simple command to add it to your bootloader. It will still be compressed and fresh every boot unless you go through some steps to make it persistent. Many such environments, like Porteus which grew out of Slax, make this quite easy while retaining a boot option for "Always Fresh"

    Still, as convenient as that may seem (and if the option to load to ram is used - FAST) nothing is truly free so there are hoops to jump through. In short it is just easier to use Live OpSys live, and install full systems to hard drive. There are some distros that combine (or try to combine) these elements in a "try before you commit" fashion, but the live side is rarely as full as dedicated Live systems and meant strictly as a limited demo.

    I see now that this thread is a few months old so maybe you already know this and hopefully have found the right solution. If not, let me just recommend that you try a full system by one of "the biggies" - Centos, Debian (or the derived branch-off of Ubuntu), Arch, OpenSuse or Slackware. Since you are installing to a separate hard drive the only concern you will face is the bootloader and it is not as scary as many assume.

    While Windows tends to "not play nice with others" Linux developers have come to accept that many if not most users will have Windows too so they have designed their bootloaders to add Windows to the boot options. There are ways to add Linux to the Windows bootloader but it does involve jumping through a few hoops so I recommend letting whatever distro you choose (especially if one of the biggies) to add Windows to it's bootloader because it's just easier to install and easier to fix should you break it somehow.

    There is another way which is simply using your BIOS (or UEFI) to change boot order so each system will only run via the boot order option, each "thinking" it is on the 1st drive. One way to accomplish that is to disable the Windows drive for the time you install Linux so it isn't even present, and then upon completion, reconnect your Windows drive and use boot order to select which system you wish to boot. Then each installation can be automated and left to it's own since one does not "see" the other.

    Upon booting, Windows will still not see Linux unless you install the proper file system support but Linux, having NTFS support, will see Windows but will not interfere on it's own. Linux, especially these days, plays nice with others.

    Good Fortune and I hope this is still valuable to you.
  5. Aug 17, 2015 #4
    I would recommend installing the CAELinux distribution, it already comes with OpenFOAM and a bunch of other software for FEA,CFD, 3D modeling, etc.
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