Linux in my pocket
I have a Windows 10 laptop that I can’t install Linux on. It’s a decent laptop with a nice form factor. It weighs half what my workhorse laptop does, and I want to take it on a trip where I’ll need to do many Linuxy things. (WSL has too many unknowns and potential blockers for me to be OK relying on).
Short version: install the installer to a small flash drive, then boot into that and select the other flash drive as ext4 to install to. https://www.tecmint.com/install-linux-os-on-usb-drive/
gparted wouldn’t let me have 2 primaries
I couldn’t figure out how to add a swap partition to my flash drive. Gparted failed hard with an unhelpful admonishment regarding too many primaries at the second partition format. There was no option for non-primary.
So I installed anyway
This took a long time, half an hour maybe, but finally linux 19 mint installed. I rebooted, there it was at the top of the grub list. All is well.
But didn’t achieve my goal
It turns out I can’t boot into it from my Windows 10 small form factor due to permissions. :[
And I horked my workhorse
So I put it in my workhorse and booted to test. No problems.
I decided to take a break for the evening and do other work. I removed the flash and restarted my workhorse. Bare grub console! Uh oh! I’ve shackled myself to the flash drive with the new Linux instance by moving the grub loader. :/
I went to bed sad for having possibly broken my workhorse but optimistic that I might learn something.
Moving the grub loader back
Sleep plus coffee later:
This might work: https://askubuntu.com/a/321885/514799
I may or may not have had to run the commands from
grub>, as I could already boot into my drives with the USB stick connected. After executing them from the grub terminal and rebooting, I was taken back to the
grub> terminal. I’m unsure if this was expected behavior, and I’m not sure whether they actually changed anything. This bugs me slightly, but if I go down this road again, I’ll investigate further.
I booted into my HDD-installed Linux instance, ran the last two commands, rebooted, and the boot menu appeared normally without the USB stick connected. Woo.
Closing the loop
To finish up, I rebooted with the USB stick reconnected to verify whether I could boot into it with the reverted grub configuration.
Sadly, I could not. It seems I have more investigation to do.
While I didn’t achieve my goal (Linux in my pocket, usable from any Windows laptop), I (re-)learned a bit about boot menus and such.
And I’m glad I don’t have a ton of rework to do to restore my workhorse.
Post publish shower thoughts
It occurs to me that this might just be a boot order problem. I’ll try booting directly to the flash from BIOs, though I’m not sure why this wasn’t necessary before moving grub back where it belonged.