I recently bought an external HDD with the sole purpose of using it for keeping my work safe and at the same time using it to work with Ubuntu during office hours. I used Gparted for creating partitions. On one partition ext3, I installed Ubuntu 10.04 and the other two partitions were formatted to FAT32 for storage purposes in either Windows or Linux environment. I had made my ext3 partition on which I had installed Ubuntu bootable. Though I had planned meticulously about which partitions to use for storage and which one to be used for OS but still I had some major issues.I installed Grub on external HDD. So whenever the external HDD was not plugged in there are booting issues. Without the external HDD, my laptop just stopped working. I could not fathom the problem in the first instant. But later on realized that since Grub was installed on only external drive, my laptop hard disk was not booting up. I used LiveCD and installed one more Grub on my laptop hard disk and the updated it. It was back to normal. Now I had two Grub installed one on laptop hard disk and the other on external HDD.
I decided to upgrade to Grub2. But again I landed up in mess. My Windows OS was not listed in the Grub2 bootloader. I searched around many Ubuntu forums. I tried uninstall, reinstall and then Grub updates but nothing seem to work. I had to use Windows setup CD and had to go to repair console to get the boot issues fixed for windows. After booting from Windows setup CD, I opted for Repair Console and my laptop started booting Windows. I then installed Grub again. This time I refrained from upgrading to Grub2. Now I had my Windows OS nicely working and listed in the Grub bootloader.
Third issue was changing the boot order by selecting “ESC” right at the time of startup to go over to BIOS menu and boot order options. Here I moved External HDD drive ahead of laptop hard disk. Now after working for two evenings I had my system setup exactly the way I wanted.
Image: Creative Commons Attribution by Paul Schultz