Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 3
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Linux is easily installed and works with external devices, be it a USB flash drive or an external drive, I have long wanted to do the opposite. Today I would like to describe my dual boot system installation script with full UEFI support, and also consider separately installing Linux.

The review is designed for advanced users, I will not describe in detail the installation of windows on the network and there are enough of them, I’ll consider in detail only the options for installing Linux. Also warn that this is a nonstandard configuration and the steps described below can lead to a BIOS crash.

The content of the article:

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows

After the spring updates of Windows and Fedora, I once again had a desire to spread them across different disks, although in general Windows updating did not cause problems with the bootloader.

So we have:

  1. Laptop with HDD size of 500 gigabytes (BIOS insideH20 setup utility rev.3.7)
  2. 1 terabyte external hard drive (USB 3.0)
  3. Hot desire to remove windows from a laptop, but that it was at hand.

Next, I'm going to install Windows 10 on an external hard drive, and Linux on a laptop (preferably independently of each other). Linux is used by default, and there are personal files on an external hard disk (NTFS) and this option is the best for me.

After a bit of searching on the network, I was surprised to find out for myself that Windows is now completely installed on an external hard drive, and I will describe how to install linux on a laptop.

1. Installing Windows 10 on a laptop

First we install Windows 10 home single language (in my case Win10_1903_V1_Russian_x64.iso used the official image) on the laptop, if not already installed. I will not describe the process in detail, I will only note that the disk is marked in GPT format. Settings BIOS: Boot ModeUEFI, Secure Boot – Disabled. Installation was carried out in UEFI mode.

2. Installing Windows on an external drive

Next, we need to install Windows on an external drive. I didn’t invent anything here either, there are many instructions on the net using the terminal and the program Winntsetup I installed the same Windows 10 home single language (Win10_1903_V1_Russian_x64.iso) on an external disk, here I repeat, the disk is also labeled (or converted if necessary) into GPT format. BIOS settings are the same Boot Mode – UEFI, Secure Boot – Disabled. The installation was carried out in UEFI mode, an external drive is connected via USB 3.0 port.

As a result, if everything is done correctly, we have Windows installed on an external disk (disk 1) volume 4 (C 🙂 which runs from the BIOS and starts directly with its bootloader.

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 4

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 5

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 6

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 7

3. Remove Windows from a laptop

On this work in Windows is over and we have two systems. Now installing Linux on a laptop. I used Fedora (F30-WORK-x86_64-LIVE-20190628.iso) and made a bootable USB flash drive using the Fedora Media Writer, it makes a universal USB flash drive that loads into the MBR and GPT. If you record another system and (or) record differently (for example Rufus), keep in mind that the bootable USB flash drive must be Live USB (for working with the disc) and recorded in UEFI mode.

Turning off the external drive and boot from Live USB Linux. I did not trust the installer and decided to do everything manually. Install and run Gparted or Parted in the terminal (which is more convenient for someone).

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 8

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 9

As you can see at the beginning of the disk there are hidden partitions and the windows loader – / dev / sda1, / dev / sda2, / dev / sda3 (Tom1, Tom2 as viewed from windows), they cannot be touched (windows from an external disk will not boot without them). We delete everything else, the Windows C system partition, and if there are other NTFS partitions (D, E), it will be / dev / sda4, / dev / sda5 I don’t have them anymore, these are snapshots from the already installed Fedora, but I think the point is clear. Reboot and start the installation.

I used two different installation methods and both work for me. I will consider them in detail, maybe not all distributions will both work or the first way will be liked by someone more.

Method 1: A typical Linux installation

Linux installation on a laptop with Windows was carried out in UEFI mode with disabled Secure Boot (although it is supported by Fedora). By default, the / boot / efi partition (/ dev / sda2) has flags boot, esp – here is the Windows boot loader here, we will also prescribe the Fedora boot loader during the installation.

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 10

We do the markup like a regular dual boot (in Fedora). Create / bootpoint to mount point Esp section – / boot / efi (/ dev / sda2) (do not format otherwise everything is lost), create a root if necessary swap, / home, install, reboot.

Windows boot loaders and Fedora will be written in one / boot / efi partition. When enabled, the Grub reboot will display Fedora and the Windows Boot Manager in the Grub selection menu (although there is no Windows disk). As a result, Fedora loads and runs, and Windows connects to the USB port, turns on via BIOS and starts directly.

This method works and the systems are separated on different disks. But I didn’t really like this method, the dual boot menu "hangs" all the same when booting, also in case of damage, accidental formatting, updating the / boot / efi of the windows partition may not boot (I’m not sure to repair the Windows bootloader installed on the external drive with two flash drives) what happens) and I went on.

I recently played with Fedora Silverblue, and there the developers advise when an unsuccessful multiboot to create an additional ESP partition and install a bootloader on it, something like that I decided to use in this case.

Method 2: Install Linux with a separate boot partition

As in the first case, we boot from Live USB, run Gparted, we need the first three sections / dev / sda1, / dev / sda2, / dev / sda3, and delete the rest. The flags of the / boot / efi partition (/ dev / sda2) are changed from boot, esp on hidden diag (hide it).

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 11

Reboot, start the installation.

We do the markup as usual for a single Fedora installation. Create / boot, create a new / boot / efi partition (200MiB not to be confused), create a root, swap, / home, install, reboot.

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 12

Fedora with this installation will start immediately in Plymouth, without a timeout and the grub boot menu as the only system on the device, from the new Esp partition / dev / sda4. created by the Fedora installer, the "old" Esp partition / dev / sda2 as you can see is not mounted.

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 13

Windows also connects to the usb port and turns on via BIOS. Both systems are separated on different disks and have their own independent boot sections. Linux is now installed on the laptop (maybe any? Or several? I haven't tried yet), and you can safely update Windows without fear of overwriting the Linux bootloader and turning it on as needed.

I liked this method more and I use it now. This is what Fedora looks like now:

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 14

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 15

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 16

And so windows:

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 17

Installing Linux on a laptop with Windows 18

In this simple way, you can take a look at the new dual boot. If you wish, you can backup EFI-directories / dev / sda2. It is also worth noting that windows on an external USB drive loads longer and runs slower than on an internal HDD, but it works quite well for itself. If you have questions ask in the comments!

Debian 10 setup after installation

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