Install Linux mint Xfce 'onto' a USB to run alongside Windows 10

Paul_Surrey_UK

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I had recently tried a clean install of Linux Mint Cinnamon without much success so with the help of this forum (thank you) I reinstalled Windows 10.

I have since run a live version of Linux mint Xfce and am keen to now install it to give it a proper try; this time I would like to run it along side Windows 10. I realise I have enough storage (see below) for both and installing it will create a partition but I would feel more comfortable if the laptop was actually split into two drives so I could have W10 on one and Xfce on the other. My question is could I use a 128gb micro USB to install Linux mint Xfce on and simply leave that plugged in and effectively use that as a hard drive; not ideal I know but would it work until I know if I'd like to ditch W10 and clean install Xfce? If yes what would happen on start up, would I be prompted to choose one or the other like I would if I installed it onto the same C Drive, or I would I always have to select in my case F11'system recovery' on start up to select either that way?

Type: Laptop System: HP product: HP Laptop 15-da0xxx v: Type1ProductConfigId
serial: <superuser required> Chassis: type: 10 serial: <superuser required>
Mobo: HP model: 84AA v: 82.53 serial: <superuser required> UEFI: Insyde v: F.4 date: 05/23/2023,

It has 1TB Storage (not partitioned ) 4GB Ram.
 
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it should work, but make sure you either install Linux to the pen drive as if it were an on board HDD, or you could install Linux to the pen drive as a stand-alone drive but with persistence [doing it this way you could carry it around as your personal computer to use in almost any comparable machine]

if you use method 1 then you will get a grub screen at boot where you have about 10 seconds to decide to boot Linux or Windows [or normally Linux will boot first]
with the second option you set your boot order in the bios to first boot USB, second boot HDD, this way if you want to use Linux you just plug in the pen drive and switch on

Whichever Method and version of Linux you choose, I recommend you make sure windows secure boot and quick start are both dissabled
 
Thanks Brickwizard.

I assumed I would run it live from a USB as I did with Cinnamon, then as before select the desktop icon inviting installation, then be prompted where the installation is to be directed to, selecting the second larger 128gb capacity micro USB that I was intending to use a an additional drive; which I will leave plugged in.

My question is how does either option you describe alter interms of the what I actually do to select which version?
 
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what I actually do to select which version?
ok so with option 1, you will get a grub screen similar to the pict. below you will see Linux [or in this example Ubuntu] is the first boot, if you wish to boot windows you down arrow to highlight windows manager and hit enter.

1661354877009-3900548555.jpg



with option 2 the laptop will automatically boot windows UNLESS you have the pen drive inserted before you switch on, in which case the pen-drive
I assumed I would run it live from a USB as I did with Cinnamon

if you do not install as a fixed drive or as a persistent USB drive you cannot save any work or changes, also it will boot and run faster
 
Perfect thank you. "Persistent USB drive" is that a setting I choose or simply another way of saying that I'm leaving it plugged in?
 
My question is could I use a 128gb micro USB to install Linux mint Xfce on and simply leave that plugged in and effectively use that as a hard drive; not ideal I know but would it work until I know if I'd like to ditch W10 and clean install Xfce?
There's no reason why it shouldn't work. Going back 10 years to the start of my own Linux journey, I started off with Ubuntu (as so many do). Then I thought I'd like to try the other 'flavours'.....Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu.

I had a 7-port USB hub at the time, and a bunch of 64GB SanDisk Cruzer 'Blade' flash drives.....so I full-installed each of the flavours to one of these drives, and left them permanently plugged-in to the hub. To boot, I simply used the one-time boot Menu on my old Compaq desktop rig to fire-up the one I wanted. It all worked rather nicely!

As m'colleague @Brickwizard says, make sure you install it as though you were doing a standard full install to a HDD......including installing each one's boot-loader to its respective drive. So long as you do this, you shouldn't have any problems.

The only snag with doing it this way is that the OS is constantly writing-to/reading-from the drive as if it were a normal hard drive, and flash memory does have a finite number of writes before it starts misbehaving. However, NAND flash is considerably more rugged than it was a decade ago, so this shouldn't really be much of an issue nowadays.....


Mike. ;)
 
...so I full-installed each of the flavours to one of these drives, and left them permanently plugged-in to the hub. To boot, I simply used the one-time boot Menu on my old Compaq desktop rig to fire-up the one I wanted. It all worked rather nicely!......
That's exactly what I hoped it would be, thanks to you both
 
A "LIVE" ISO is VOLATILE [in computing terms that means that once it is removed/powered down nothing you have done to it is saved], that is why we either treat the USB as a HDD or make it with persistence.
As my erstwhile friend @MikeWalsh said, USB pen drive have a limited life span when it comes to read/write sequences , if you have an SD slot then you could permanently use a cl10 or higher flash drive as your second HDD [this will last a bit longer] my personal choice would be [but as usual that is personal not a recommendation] https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/226020767399?epid=13034685136&itmmeta=01HQN91RJB7MB3G7KFV2PTQ5V7&hash=item349fe336a7:g:4NMAAOSwrI1lx8QI&itmprp=enc:AQAIAAAA4N8d/+cYIKsD5XMvg2XCLX2hGy/wXMK7wRtt32OpDHKofiUQoRgel1vtrU+bdSOYnGkoqEdLub9nM/2i2MXcXj69AW10f23d9I4x4SOJBq96jqQ1skyV/UH3xkCCJgumobixx3+MDZZLDpP2bMZmUSrR6fayHh2t2Y79Ybsv3TkbVZ4/sfBwOVS7g7L3OE6ca+9sX+jUqInOk9YtmLt3plTFmy7cDXhQTr7Brlsm4bCcpLC14x/QwZ8QbZ/9tjn8vB04tSeRnRcynzYX+TsdIxKmFaYj6ReOawWg2JxVaOnY|tkp:Bk9SR6SJh6m9Yw
 
should be ok
 
@Paul_Surrey_UK :-

Just be aware that not all machines will actually boot from an SD card slot. My HP Pavilion desktop rig has one, but it won't boot from it; it appears to be read-only (for stuff like photos, etc). However; if I put an SD card into a USB SD card reader, it'll boot from it quite happily....

(shrug...)

From what I understand, CF cards are a pretty old format......but they're still readily available because so much industrial equipment was built to use them (especially a lot of one-off, custom-built equipment.....where the original manufacturers are long gone, of course).

The NAND flash memory in use here usually tends to be of rather better quality, and is of necessity designed for pretty long service intervals and often to survive in quite harsh operating environments. It's a tried and tested format that has very definitely stood the test of time.


Mike. :)
 
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Just be aware that not all machines will actually boot from an SD
@Paul_Surrey_UK Su

if you haven't already bought the SD card dont. Following @MikeWalsh post, I have done some investigating, most HP apparently will not boot an SD card [this I didn't know]
 
I am
@Paul_Surrey_UK :-

Just be aware that not all machines will actually boot from an SD card slot. My HP Pavilion desktop rig has one, but it won't boot from it; it appears to be read-only (for stuff like photos, etc). However; if I put an SD card into a USB SD card reader, it'll boot from it quite happily....

(shrug...)

From what I understand, CF cards are a pretty old format......but they're still readily available because so much industrial equipment was built to use them (especially a lot of one-off, custom-built equipment.....and the original manufacturers are long gone, of course).

The flash memory in use here tends to be rather better made, and is of necessity designed for pretty long service intervals.


Mike. :confused:
That's interesting Mike, before buying a 128gb card I did try the one from my DSLR camera, when I right click it format it also said read only, but it had a lock tab on, once I slid that to unlock I could format it. Being 8gb I assume that's enough to install Xcfe to test to see if I can boot from an SD, from what I can tell I need at least 20gb?

If I can't use an SD Card then my initial thought of a micro USB flash drive as a hard drive still applies, although it may not last as long it will hopefully last long enough.
 
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My previous desktop rig, a very elderly Compaq Presario was made around the time of the HP buyout in 2003. Despite being part of the final batch assembled by Compaq's own staff - hence very high quality for the time - HP still messed around with the BIOS before putting them on sale, it seems.

It had a multi-card reader (these were quite common on desktops in those days). It also wouldn't boot from any of them.....yet again, any of the cards supported would boot if run from an appropriate USB card reader, so, um, yeah; HP have been doing this for many years.

I can format an SD card in the Pavilion's front slot, and I can transfer to/ read files from it. But no matter WHAT I try, you cannot actually boot from it.....because the UEFI/BIOS doesn't in fact "see" it.

My recommendation for a 'nano'-sized USB drive? SanDisk's Ultra 'Fit' USB 3.2 gen 1 flash drives. Cheap'n'cheerful, perhaps; I've used SanDisk for more years than I can remember.....and have never had any issues with 'em.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/SanDisk-Ultra-Flash-Drive-read/dp/B07855LJ99?th=1


Mike. :confused:
 
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My previous desktop rig, a very elderly Compaq Presario was made around the time of the HP buyout in 2003. Despite being part of the final batch assembled by Compaq's own staff - hence very high quality for the time - HP still messed around with the BIOS before putting them on sale, it seems.

It had a multi-card reader (these were quite common on desktops in those days). It also wouldn't boot from any of them.....yet again, any of the cards supported would boot if run from an appropriate USB card reader, so, um, yeah; HP have been doing this for many years.

I can format an SD card in the Pavilion's front slot, and I can transfer to/ read files from it. But no matter WHAT I try, you cannot actually boot from it....


Mike. :confused:
Thanks Mike, I will revert to plan 'A' and try it with a USB flash drive
 
I have practiced with a 30gb flash drive that I already had to make sure I could get it up and running before I invested in something with far more gb; I am actually typing this post on Linux Mint Xfce :). Scrolling on web pages is smooth and YouTube videos play without stuttering; both were deal breaking issues when I tried Linux Cinnamon on this laptop.

The installation made a partition on the USB drive, I didn't know if I should change the default prompted sizes of those partitions so I didn't! I have added a thumbnail screen shot, also made with an photo editing app ('Gimp' found via this link 'click'; other recommendations welcome) on Linux so I am getting the hang of it :). As you can see it appears to have not been a good idea to leave the sizing of the partitions as the default. I assume as it's a USB and not my laptop hard drive then I should have made the partition for Linux as big as I could?
LinuxScreenshot.jpg

Although nearly full it runs OK, although I can't add many files or folders so I know I need a quite a bit more storage when I invest in something more permanent. I also tried removing and leaving the USB out then restarting to W10, then refitting and it worked OK, saving everything I had added and set up. To me this simply means that I could simply buy a physically larger size USB and plug it in when I want, I had been thinking I need an Ultra Fit USB style that I would then leave plugged in all the time; my theory being as it would be nearly flush with the laptop it wouldn't be so vulnerable. As an edit to this post I did try to look at the information on the Flash Drive to add the data to this post and ended up knocking it a little, resulting in everything freezing; requiring me holding the power button down to force a restart, so potentially the Ultra Fit style would be better after all! I assume any quality branded USB, Ultra Fit or something longer with a 'Hardware Interface' of 3.0 would be OK?

Not a deal breaker but each restart did require tapping 'F11' to 'System Recovery' otherwise it simply took me to the Windows 10 login. I don't mind that too much except that I have a few pages to click through to get Mint to boot up. Thanks again MikeWalsh and Brickwizard; I am easily daunted but you have helped; a lot
 
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Not a deal breaker but each restart did require tapping 'F11' to 'System Recovery'
should not be necessary, go to the main bios and change it to USB first boot and HDD as second boot
 

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