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Using An External HD As My Computer

 
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Smallwheels
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:40 pm    Post subject: Using An External HD As My Computer Reply with quote

I believe that the future of personal computing is on flash card drives. Everybody will carry around their own personal computer on a flash card that can be plugged into generic computers everywhere. In time small flash cards will be capable of this.

Right now there are versions of Linux that can be run from discs or thumb drives. Those have limitations.

I want to know if I can use a portable USB powered external hard drive as my personal computer. What would I need to do to use a form of Linux on such a drive to make it my portable personal computer? I know that on Windows machines one can press F9 during start-up and get a boot loader which would allow me to select my external hard drive. I suppose something similar can be done on my Mac.

This appeals to me. I could just carry around a 1 terabyte computer in my pocket and connect it to anyone's hardware to have it work. It would have all of my programs and everything set up the way I like it.

I know that cell phones have computing capabilities but I'm not interested in that. I want to know how to make this happen using a portable hard drive.

What would be the difficulties doing this? Can it work reliably if I used a 32 bit version of Linux? Let me know. This seems like a great little project and could be the optimum way to have a portable computer.



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Fox
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You can do this on the Mac, but unfortunately, this is a slow operation. If I recall correctly, you just press either the option key or the x key when you start up, and hold it down until the drives with OS X on them are shown on the display. Then choose the one you want.

Linux has several distros that are meant to be run from usb thumb drives. These include Knoppix, Tiny Core Linux, Damn Small Linux and also Puppy I believe. What some of these do is load everything into RAM, so once they load, they run very fast. To minimize their memory overhead, they use lighter window managers or desktop environments like fwwm or lxde instead of the full-featured ones like gnome or kde.
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philiparcario
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would think you want a fw800 drive like this


http://eshop.macsales.com/item/Other%20World%20Computing/MEQM7750GB16/

this could plug into just about any mac and work. you would need a retail copy of osx but it should work. much faster as fw800 then usb2
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Smallwheels
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 15, 2010 2:20 pm    Post subject: Drive Isn't Important Reply with quote

Eventually I'll be able to buy a SSD External HD which would make transporting it safe from shocks and jostling while I ride my bicycle around town. The fastest interface would be ideal but it should be capable of being connected to any computer. A USB 2 connection should be the main interface. USB 3 would be even better. It is good that it is backwards compatible. Is USB 3 powered?

There are a couple of companies that make portable drives with multiple interface cables. USB 3 is the most interesting because it works with USB 2 or USB 3.

I just want to learn the steps to make this work. I'd actually prefer doing this than dual booting a computer. This would allow me to just use a Linux OS on either of my computers instead of just on one. Does this seem appealing to anybody else?


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billb
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:24 am    Post subject: Re: Using An External HD As My Computer Reply with quote

Smallwheels wrote:
I want to know if I can use a portable USB powered external hard drive as my personal computer. I know that on Windows machines one can press F9 during start-up and get a boot loader which would allow me to select my external hard drive. I suppose something similar can be done on my Mac. What would be the difficulties doing this? Can it work reliably if I used a 32 bit version of Linux? Let me know. This seems like a great little project and could be the optimum way to have a portable computer.
Smallwheels
Windows booting from an external HD isn't well supported.
Mac booting to a generic box isn't well supported either. Just
Linux Distro's. Read THIS. Also, if you boot windows
from a box with hardware that isn't almost identical
to what it was originally installed on you'll need to
re-authenticate it. Bill Gates doesn't like you moving
Windows around.
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Dalton63841
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One major catch to your idea is that you would need to make sure that your linux OS was compatible with TONS of different hardware. So no streamlining the OS. Remember that different flavors of linux are not compatible with all ethernet/wifi/video cards/etc...

Other than that you just install it to the external the same way you would an internal drive.

I actually did this once with a 32GB flash drive. It worked great, but it never failed that the one time I REALLY needed to use it, the PC I was at wouldn't work because of one incompatibility or another, although more often than not it worked great.
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