Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Multi-System USB External Hard Drive Project: Part 1

With my recent acquisition of a 1 TB hard drive, I have now have my old 250 GB mini drive unused. My solution: make a demo box for on the go with mulitiple Operating Systems (OS).

I plan to cut the drive into five, fifty gig partitions and put the following OS's on it:
  1. Ubuntu 9.04
  2. Ubuntu Server (32 bit) 9.04
  3. BackTrack4
  4. Windows 7 (RC)
  5. Open Solaris

Piece and Parts

I'm creating this USB system from my Macbook running OS X Tiger (10.4) and an older PC running Microsoft Windows XP. I have an external DVD burner for that machine. It's all going onto a Western Digital Passport Essential 250 GB external hard drive.

The Operating Systems

Ubuntu 9.04
I downloaded the most recent version of Ubuntu from their website. It was a simple matter to follow the directions on there to burn the ISO to a CD using "Disk Utility."

Once you are running the live CD, it has a very straight forward tool for installing the OS onto the computer. It was as simple as telling it what language, timezone, default user, etc. I wanted and pointing it at the right HDD.

Ubuntu Server 9.04
The ISO has been downloaded (also from their website) and I will work on adding it tomorrow.
BackTrack4 was another download. Their website is here. It is rather larger than the Ubuntu ISO and required a DVD for it's 1.4 GB size. It has been burned as a live DVD and even as I type, it's installing on the HDD.

Issues with BackTrack4: Getting X to start took a quick get around that I found here. It was as follows:
If you can’t get X to work, first try to autogenerate an xorg.conf by typing “Xorg -configure” and try using the generated conf file. If that bums out, you can revert to VESA by typing “fixvesa”.
It took me both steps for it to work, but since then it's been smooth sailing.
Windows 7 (RC)
I got a copy of Windows 7 (RC) at SoCalCodeCamp. It turns out that you can't install it on an external hard drive without some major head aches. After a good bit of looking around, it seems that in order to do it you have to use some built-in system tools from Microsoft which are only available in Vista and 7.

I don't have a box running either, so this will have to come later. I have a few messages out to friends who can help with that.

In order to make things simpler later on, I've placed the partition for Windows 7 at the beginning of the disk. If you don't do this, Microsoft cannot find it's partition. None of the other systems have any trouble with this.

Strike one against Windows 7, and I don't even have it installed yet...
Open Solaris
I picked up a Open Solaris live CD at the June SDJUG meeting. I have not done anything with it yet.

That's what I've got so far. More will follow.

Have any questions? Please leave a comment and ask it. Have a comment?