I want to install Fedora or any other Linux in USB hard disk. I have Windows XP installed in internal HDD.

When USB HDD is attached to my PC, it should ask me to boot from Win XP or Linux.

In any case of boot, I should be able to use both HDDs.

If USB HDD is not attached to my PC, it should boot from Win XP.


2 Answers 2


Check your BIOS settings, make the boot priority look like this:

  • USB
  • Internal drive

Then if your USB is not connected it will boot from the internal drive. It's then up to your system to detect both drives, the only problem you can run into is the filesystem compatibility: accessing ext3 or whatever FS Fedora uses from Windows. Accessing Windows NTFS can be a PITA too. I recommand you use a FAT32 exchange partition somewhere on the USB drive.

  • Yes, I tried with that BIOS setting but somehow I lost Windows boot. I tried and wasted so much time for this. Tried with installing first windows and then Linux and I lost Windows boot. When tried installing first Linux and then windows then lost some hard disk partitions. Do you have any idea what problem could be there ? or can you suggest steps to make such dual-boot system? I have all FAT32 partition formats but don't know What is FAT32 exchange partition. Jul 6, 2011 at 19:43
  • A little bit late for that, my bad. Install windows first, they made some crappy boot partition and it's kind of very horrible and disregardful of other systems that could live on the same HDD. They really think they're the shit. Anyways, after just install you unix-like, except the bootloader, don't touch the MBR (yes, you can do this with any installer). Boot, you will get windows, then download EasyBCD and check for instructions concerning your OS and EeasyBCD, it will add an entry to windows bootloader for your OS.
    – Aki
    Jan 23, 2012 at 7:18

Per Aki's comment, check the boot priority set in your BIOS. Note that there may be various USB boot options, but likely you need USB HDD or similar.

A better overall alternative, assuming you have space on your internal hard disk, might be to setup your Windows XP as a Virtual machine host running VirtualBox.

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