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How to install Windows 8 to an external drive while keeping the bootloader on the external drive too?

    Question

  • Hi guys I am curious to try the Windows 8 developer preview and rather than a virtual machine I wanna try and boot it properly from a physical drive. The problem is that everywhere I read, the windows 8 will replace my bootloader on my internal disk if I install it (Even if to an external drive) and I just cannot have that. I am planning to try it out from the company laptop which has pointsec installed in it, which wraps the original windows bootloader somehow, for encryption, meaning that the bootloader (MDR) cannot be touched otherwise I can no longer boot from the internal drive (Plus I will not have this external drive connected very often to the PC and even if I could dual boot it, I don't want to have to have the disk connected to the drive every time I want to boot in my company drive). Is there a way, like you can do in linux and other OSes, to install Windows 8 to an external drive and also have the bootloader installed on that external drive only, without touching anything on the internal drive? Any guides out there on how to do it? I have done an extensive search but most guides make no mention about the bootloader and how that will behave after installation. Any help is appreciated.
    Thursday, October 27, 2011 9:08 AM

All replies

  • hi there,

     

    yes there is a way (unsupported i guess so please don't fire back in case of a problem!!! this is given AS IS, use at your own risk!).

    BUT: you have to have another Windows 8 rig to pull it through! (yes that is quite a catch if you only have one machine).

    Windows 8 brings Windows 2 Go (basically what you're looking for) which allows execution from an USB drive...real execution, not just install media boot.

    BUT: to do that you have to have the bcdboot from Windows 8 available in the prompt CMD, wich basically can only be done on a Windows 8 machine.

     

    given the fact you have access to a running win8 machine do the following:

    launch CMD with elevated rights, plug your usb drive in.

    in the cmd, launch DISKPART, list disk to id you usb drive, select it, partition it, format it in NTFS and Active It.

    with imagex, apply install.wim from win8DP iso to the usb drive partition (in my example it's given the U: letter)

    then execute bcdboot to initiate bootloader as resident:

    bcdboot.exe U:\windows /s U: /f ALL

    exit prompt, eject usb...and off you go to boot on your USB on your laptop (and prey it has Win8-compatible hardware).

    hope this help.

     

    Best regards,

     

    PierrE.


    Http://www.redkaffe.com - Consultant/Formateur en region PACA
    Thursday, October 27, 2011 9:25 AM
  • Thank you very much.

     

    I managed to get a virtual machine W8 instance going but my next problem is I believe that the moment I run the bcdboot command it will destroy my Linux booting info which is in the same disk will it not?

    Is there a way to do it and not destroy my Linux boot partition?

     

    Regards
    Alethenorio

    Thursday, October 27, 2011 9:35 PM
  • Thank you very much.

     

    I managed to get a virtual machine W8 instance going but my next problem is I believe that the moment I run the bcdboot command it will destroy my Linux booting info which is in the same disk will it not?

    Is there a way to do it and not destroy my Linux boot partition?

     

    Regards
    Alethenorio


    hi there,

     

    there is no way that command is goint to hurt your system, as it is only going to interfere with your USB drive's bootloading capabilities.

    it SHOULD NOT make any changes to your VM, or Physical system's bootloader as the Drive's letter is given as the destination's parameter (in my example, U: drive).

    so don't fear, at worse your USB system will be slow (my first attempt at it didn't event work) but it will in no way harm your actual system setup....Unless you insert very specific TYPO ERRORS in my sample cmd line :)

     

    Best regards,

     

    PierrE.

     


    Http://www.redkaffe.com - Consultant/Formateur en region PACA
    Friday, October 28, 2011 3:07 AM
  • Hi Pierre.

    Thanks again.

     

    I am not sure we are thinking the same thing, so just to confirm.

    I am trying to install the Windows 8 to go on an external hard drive which already contains a linux installation inside (Including the linux bootloader). On this same drive I plan to install windows 8 as the next bootable partition.

    Won't this destroy the linux boot information in that disk? If not then how will my pc know which OS to boot when I tell it to boot from that external drive?

    Regards
    Alethenorio 

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 8:42 AM
  • I'd still like to know the answer to the above. Is there anyway I can sideload a Windows 8 installation on an external hard drive while not harming my currently existing Linux installation in the same drive (Including the bootloader)?

    I am guessing that there needs to be feature in place so that when I tell my pc to boot off of the external drive, it gives me an option to boot from either the linux partition or the windows 8 one but I am not sure if such a thing is possible at the moment.

    Regards
    Alethenorio

    Friday, November 11, 2011 3:05 PM
  • hi there,

    i guess i cannot answer for sure, since i didn't try that one scenario out... My wild guess is that given the novelty of the Win8 Bootloader it will probably be hard to make linux loader (lilo or grub) aware and able to habndle both systems, and i strongly suspect Windows Bootloader (at least on USB) not to be able to handle linux loader eather...

     

    so to make long things short, i guess it would'nt work, but i'd be very pleased to be wrong :)

    do a backup of your linux install and give it a try, and let us know :)

     

    best regards,

    Pierre.

     


    Http://www.redkaffe.com - Consultant/Formateur en region PACA
    Friday, November 11, 2011 5:36 PM