An alternative to mess up your HD.

I am a ”Windows guy”, and most of my work is related to Windows installations (small and big, pc’s and servers). But from time to time, I see the benefit of not only knowing my way around in a Linux environment. I also find it handy to have an installation ready at hand.

When a Pc fails to load (usually due to HD failure of some sort) I have used one out of two approaches to salvage data for myself or customers. One way is to use the windows installation media and try to repair the installation. This usually works, but not always. When a repair fails, I have relied on so called “live-CD” installations to access the computers content. But the problem I have with these CD’s is that I can’t write configuration changes to the CD if I want to make changes. In addition to salvage stuff through the use of Ubuntu, I like to have an alternate OS to boot into. Some tools don’t work in Windows, some customers have Linux on their machines and I need to be able to help “everyone”.

I have long wanted a dual boot scenario, boot I do not like messing up my work (or home) computer by partitioning it and have several OS’s on the same HD. (Done it once, and due to HW failure and a lack of Linux experience lost everything). Now I have found myself a solution to this problem. I bought an 8-gig memory stick, and installed Ubuntu 9.04 on it. It is now possible for me to boot from a completely independent OS environment on my laptop. All I have to do to boot into Ubuntu is to select the USB device at startup.

The process was fairly simple and I wanted to share it with you:
1. I downloaded and created a installation CD with Ubuntu
2. I removed the HD from my HD
3. I booted from the CD
4. I installed Ubuntu onto the USB stick.
5. I booted from the USB device, configured my environment and updated security patches.