This post and the next were originally written a year ago in vimeo group
; but vimeo won't allow non-members to view the group posts. So it's reproduced here.
Okay, I finally got Fedora 17 and Mint 13 to work on sticks or external hard drives, but the procedure is NOTHING like they tell you in their forums or on the web. So what's true for these distros, should prove true in the others, though it might not always work.
The procedure, is simple: 'install' the distro to a given external drive, be it a pen drive or an external HDD. In short, the so-called 'live usb' instructions are all bogus. They don't give you persistence. So they are just like CDs, but in usb format.
So: each distro has an option to install it to your hard drive. Question is, WHICH hard drive? You do NOT want the internal hard drive which in Windows is usually 'C', because that will install a Linux 'bootloader' (program which tells the machine which operating system to use). These 'bootloaders' are buggy, or don't play well with Windows, even before Windows 8.
In short, ignore all that stuff, and just follow these 10 steps: http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=49&t=197956
or http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.p ... 8#p1027978
. The hardest thing about installing Mint, is deciding what colors and options you want, which is pretty much the same as for XP. And, as enjoyable, enfin.
The example above is for Linux Mint, but it works the same with any other distro I know. If you've never tried Linux, choose Mint, which you can download there. Else, just find a distro you like, do the 10 steps, should get the same result. I did those steps, three weeks ago on Mint 17, Fedora 22 and PCLinuxOS.
Longer version of the steps which follows, was written a year prior; those are the steps I actually followed. back then.
For NOW the distro will indeed treat an external hard drive or stick, as if it were a root internal drive. that wasn't commonly true a year ago, when I started this thread.
So to get that blessed persistence on stick or external HDD you can take from machine to machine, do the following:
1. CLONE YOUR HARD DRIVE FIRST. Linux distros are all different, and you can't be sure they won't mess up and install to your hard drive. So get the $3Clonezilla CD from Amazon (easier to understand than the free download of it from sourceforge). Or, use your cloning program (EASEUS Todo backup has one, as does Macrium Reflect, both have free versions but I use paid versions).
2. Plug the CD/stick into the most MODERN machine you have. This is a critical step, for when the program creates the new stick or external HDD version of itself, it uses the hardware specs to decide what to install. So, for example, if you're running the installer on a Pentium 4, then it won't run on an i5, but will easily run on a Pentium 4, Atom, etc.
3. Wait for the thing to boot. This might take 10 minutes.
4. Find the installer program on the menu. For some distros, this is no easy task. Mint has an icon on the desktop as its default, which says 'Install Linux Mint'. Others should have it as a menu option. Click it.
5. Next, depending on the distro, you'll be given a lot of questions about where you are (so they can set the time clock), and you'll have to establish an initial administrator user name and password.
6. Then you're asked where to install. DO NOT install to anything on 'sda', for that is your internal hard drive.The installer itself should be 'sdb', and your external stick or drive you want to install TO, should be 'sdc'. You can tell by the jargon description about the make of the drive and its capacity. Pick the right one.
7. Mint or maybe other distros, then tell you that you must be hooked up to the internet. That is not true for Mint, and may not be true for others. If you must hook up, it will take HOURS to download and install.
8. You might be prompted to specify a root size and partitions. You really don't have to do that. Experiment with the buttons shown and settings (which are always arcane) to figure out how to make the system ITSELF determine the partitions and their types, sizes. (You want the built-in defaults, until you're well-versed in Linux jargon.)
9. Then let the system do its thing. Again, if you had to connect to the net in order to install, it will take HOURS, as they allocate very little bandwidth. This is true for Fedora.
10. After installation, you'll be prompted to reboot. Do not reboot. Instead, shut down. Then wait for the program to tell you to remove the CD/usb installer stick, after which you are to press ENTER. Then the machine shuts down.
11. On the same or another machine which is OFF, insert your newly-created stick/hard drive, and turn it on. It will take 10 minutes to boot. But at that point, the full capacity of your stick/drive should be recognized.