Install Ubuntu 11.10 on external hard drive, with an ntfs partition at the end

After Ubuntu has installed successfully, test the system to make sure that you can boot from the external disk. If everything worked, connect the external disk to a system running Windows. For this tutorial, I connected mine to a system running Windows 7. The goal here, is to create an NTFS partition using the free space left at the end of the external hard drive.

To start, launch the partition manager . If you do not know how to click to it from the menu, type “partitions” into the menu’s search field. Click on the result. That should open Disk Management tool. If there is only one internal hard drive in the computer, which should be listed as Disk 0, you should see the external disk listed as Disk 1. And the free space at the end of its partitions labeled “Unallocated.” To create an NTFS partition from “Unallocated,” right-click on it and select “New Simple Volume.”
Windows 7 Partition Manager

Click Next.
Windows 7 Create Simple Partition

If you want to use all the available space, click Next.
Windows 7 Simple Partition Size

Assign a drive letter. Next.
Windows 7 Simple Partition Drive Letter

The default file system should be NTFS. Change the “Volume label” to suit. Next.
Windows 7 Simple Partition File System

Click Finish.
Windows 7 Create Simple Partition Completed

The new partition should appear as you labeled it. Close the window.
Windows 7 Partition Manager NTFS

When you reboot into the external drive and open Nautilus, the file manager, you should see the NTFS partition listed on the side panel.
Read NTFS Partition Ubuntu 11.10

And you can then transfer file to it.
Write NTFS Partition Ubuntu 11.10

And be able to see those file from Windows when the external drive is connected to a computer running Windows. You can also transfer files to it from Windows, and still be able to see those files from Ubuntu.
Ubuntu Files NTFS Partition on External Hard Disk

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  1. komodoninja

    I followed these instructions using Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on a Windows 8 (upgraded from 7) system to my external HDD. The install goes fine, but when it tries to reboot after it, it just goes to a black screen and never makes it to a menu at all, like it isn’t actually booting. I tried reformatting the external and installing Ubuntu again, but it was to no avail. I’m using the x64 version since that’s the version of windows 8 my system runs, I figured the safest bet was to stick to that, and on the download page for Ubuntu it says to use 64 for any windows 8 systems.

    If you can help in any way, it would be appreciated

  2. Hey, I did this install and its works great. Linux works great whenever I have my external hard-drive in. However whenever I try to boot my computer normally (without the ext hard-drive in) it goes to the grub rescue command prompt. The OS on my int hard-drive is Windows 7. Is there a way to make it boot right to Windows 7 if I don’t have the ext hard-drive in?

    • Without the ext. HDD in, are you able to boot Windows?

      • No, it just goes to the grub command prompt and says “Error: no device identified”. I can go to my BIOS and try to boot from my int hdd with the same result.

        • I think GRUB was installed in the MBR of the int disk, rather than that of the ext one. To fix it, connect the ext disk and boot into Ubuntu. Then open a shell terminal and type sudo grub_install /dev/sdb. That will install GRUB in the MBR of the ext disk. If in doubt as to the device name of the ext disk, the output of df -h will tell you. Hint: the int disk will be /dev/sda.

          Then reboot the system and boot into Windows. Once in, use EasyBCD to reinstall the Windows boot loader in the MBR. This article will help, if you don’t know how to go about it.

          That should take care of it.

          • ok so now I have the opposite problem. I went on linux and tried sudo grub_install/dev/sbd1 (that showed up from the df -h command) and it said command not found. I went to the EasyBCD and reinstalled the boot loader and now when I boot without the ext hdd it goes to Windows 7 like it’s supposed to. However if I plug the ext hdd and boot from usb it goes straight to Windows 7 instead of grub 2.

          • Blame the command not found error one me. That command should be grub-install (notice the diff.?).

            Is that /dev/sbd1 or /dev/sdb1? (notice the diff.?). Using /dev/sdb1 as the target installs GRUB in the first partition of the disk rather than in the MBR. It should still work, but the recommended location is the MBR. The command should have been sudo grub-install /dev/sdb.

            All that aside, the good news is that you can boot into Windows and you still have the ext disk. The path of least headache to fix this – assuming you don’t have VIP files on the ext disk, is to reinstall. But before starting on that path, disconnect the SATA cable to the int disk, so that the installer never even sees it.

          • i actually don’t have a sata hdd. I have a samsung ssd PM810 2.5″ 2 256GB as my int hdd. My ext hdd is a HP Portable HD BB07 USB if it matters.

          • It’s still SATA, so if the unit is a desktop, ypu can disconnect the SATA cable, If a lappy, you may then remove the int disk from the list of bootable devices in the BIOS or UEFI setup utility, and proceed with the reinstallation.

  3. I want to know.
    How if I was already make an NTFS partition in the begining of the external drive. I will make the other partition for linux soon, then, will It work?


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