Installing Linux Mint 7 to External USB Drive

I have heard a lot of good feedback and saw really nice screenshots of Mint 7 Gloria, both Gnome and KDE versions. I had about 15GB of free space on a Western Digital USB drive and thought I’d go ahead and try it out. I already had Ubuntu and previous versions of Mint installed on the same drive. I booted up my Mint 6 system, downloaded the iso and burned it onto a CD with no issues. The computer I was and still am using is a Sony Vaio VGN-CR35G laptop with an ATI graphics card.

The installation itself was a breeze. No different from other processes I’ve gone through. The way my drive is set up is not unusual. I have 10GB partitions for the linux distros that I try out and a single /home partitions that is slightly larger. During the first boot, I was impressed with how great and streamlined it looks from login screen to desktop. I have no issues with drivers and the wireless works without any fuss, just like other versions. I feel that the run time from boot to desktop is faster and the annoying beep at shutdown isn’t there anymore. I’m excited to plug this drive into other computers in the house to see if compatibility would be an issue. I will have to write another entry on that.

Overall, I’d have to say that this is the easiest install that I have ever done. If I remember correctly, it is the quickest finish too. The artwork that comes with it is top caliber as always. You can never have too much eye candy. Compiz runs and works by default, which is great. I can’t really say anything more other than I wish I could sync this with my Ubuntu One account. Currenty, UO is in its beta stage and can only be used with a Jaunty system. Hopefully, that gap will be bridged in the near future. At the rate things go right now, that’s probably soon.


Stage 2: Portable Multi-Distro Linux USB Drive

I think I got the hang of it. I have not created a separate /boot partition yet. I installed Linux Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron” on my second target partition. The first of the five available partitions is currently being occupied by Linux Mint 5 “Elyssa”. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Grub and practicing on it on Mint 5’s menu.lst. It now has all the OS of my 2 machines – Sempron Desktop and Sony Vaio laptop. So as long as I’m using Grub, I think I’ll be fine. I’m now rethinking that separate /boot partition. It looks like my current setup is fine. I can wipe out my Ubuntu 8.04 practice installation and put Mandriva One or OpenSUSE 11.0 KDE4 over it.

On another note, I’ve been able to successfully boot my Western Digital Scorpio drive containing all of this between the 2 computers mentioned above. All I needed was to edit the menu.lst and use /dev/sdb5 when on the laptop and sdc5 when on the desktop. Then boot into recovery, fix X and boot the normal way. It’ll ask for the proprietary video drivers again since the former has ATI and the latter Nvidia. One more reboot and all is set.

BIOS reads the USB drive as first while the OS thinks it’s last. The BIOS part is true for both machines that’s why I didn’t have to edit that part. All seems well at multi-booting, Grub menu editing and switching machines. Everything I’ve tried works including wireless. Now I just have to finish the downloads.

Copying Firefox 3 Bookmarks

I installed another OS on my portable hard drive and didn’t want to go through the hassle of rebuilding my bookmarks. Got help from nice people and thought to share. For Firefox 3, they make it fairly simple. You only need one file – places.sqlite. Now I’m on Linux so I’m not sure if the windows version has this file or hides it. The only thing that I had to do was copy places.sqlite from my working FF3 to my new one and closed/reopened it. I got everything I need. It copies the bookmarks but not the passwords. So you’ll have to enter those again the first time that you access emails and other sites with logins.

Hope this helps!