I want to install to a external HDD NOT USB

I did look, I did ‘google it’ and I did search it or I wouldn’t ask.

I have the download ISO for PureOS (today’s version)

I want to ‘install’ the OS on a external HDD so the HDD boots to PureOS.

But everything I try, wants to create a ‘installer’.

I’m using a Win 7 desktop and the external drive is a 250 Gig HDD. The external HDD PureOS OS will be plugged into USB on a Windows 10 laptop, and I’ll boot to PureOS via Bios boot choice - for now.


Everything is difficult because if it wasn’t then everything would be easy.

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You need to put the ISO that you downloaded onto a usb drive and boot from it. Then with your external hard drive connected install to that drive.

Just downloading the iso does not install it. It is the install media.

Hope that helps.


Have you ever done this, or is just sounding right? Cause it’s not.

Just as I thought, bricked the ltop. It SHOULD have asked WHAT drive to install on, didn’t and took over the Windows 10 HDD and now, I get kewl black screen with a huge cursor-arrow and nothing works - not mouse, not pad just, not Windows, not anything just a cute black screen. That was the last ltop I could stand to lose doing this. At least I still have a Win 7 box. Thanks anyway.


Sorry to hear. At this point it seems it is all a little too late, but during the installation process you can determine which drive to use, and you can even configure your partitions yourself. Of course if you let the installer choose defaults for you, you might not be aware of other options.

A google search for installing debian to a external hdd would explain the same things I’ve said but in greater detail.

I really empathize with your frustration.

For your current situation and being unaware of the hardware you are using, are you able to disable secure boot in your bios? If you installed PureOS alongside your current OS, then everything is still ok on the machine. You just have 2 operating systems now. Disabling secure boot or reconfiguring it is usually necessary when installing a new onto the computer. Also as PureOS is meant for Purism hardware it is very possible that you do not have a driver necessary for your hardware, and this is what is causing your boot issue. There are a lot of possibilities but they are hard to address here with the absence of information.


Woops, should have explained partitioning. This is the hardest part of any installation process.
You will need to try a recovery process or a fresh install of Windows so you can get back to what you had. After installing all your programs you can copy your backup to the computer.

I’m not the person to help, I tried dual booting two Linux distros and failed. You’ll need to do an advanced install and select the eHDD as the installation location and select where to install GRUB. Once installed you’ll need to config GRUB to make your Windows the default and some process to handle when the eHDD is not connected. These steps will need to be expanded!

Can anyone help with GRUB? I’ll also like to learn, the material on the internet is terrible!

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I did not install PureOS. However, in the instructions for installing PureOS, I do not see anything about the selection and partitioning of the disk. Is it really inaccessible to the user? If so, then PureOS is designed to be the only system on your computer. Then, to install PureOS on an external drive, you will first need to de-energize the main drive of the computer, and after installing the system on an external drive, restore power to the main drive. Or install Debian.
I have been using Debian on an external USB SSD for over 3 years. To create such a USB SSD, look here. No problem, though I didn’t use Windows because I don’t use it at all.
And I agree with @2disbetter: You better install Debian, then you will have a USB drive that will work with almost all computers.
If you install Debian on an external drive, then the GRUB must also be installed on the same external drive. Then remove Windows from the /boot/grub/grub.cfg on the external drive.


In your case, at least this sounds very good!

Let @2disbetter and this community help you now in accordance with: https://tracker.pureos.net/w/installation_guide/ and in particular with fifth slide from above: https://tracker.pureos.net/w/installation_guide/live_system_installation/

If you and @2disbetter agree I’d propose to reuse PureOS Live.iso USB media (starting with Gparted or similar partition tools like fdisk and parted on CLI) and install PureOS on this Ltop internal HDD next to WIN10. And, let us know if you are able (prefer) to boot PureOS by switching to (using) BIOS Legacy mode (if such option exists on this Ltop). Please bear with us (our time) as output might be the one you prefer to have in the end on this (last one) WIN10 laptop.

And the issue here is serious if not chosen another boot loader location (bottom of slide five) manually (not easy one, up to my recent whole day lost effort to have PureOS beside WIN10 for someone from my family, even that this was from scratch, WIN10 removed with dd if=/dev/zero as my first step, after having prepared WIN10 install 8GB USB media). I was testing /amber/live/plasma/ .iso but ended with installing Debian/WIN10 mix because of my lack of time to play with try and error issue within first 100M EFI System partition (almost sure main/key partition to be taken into account when installing PureOS), as I didn’t want to share it with WIN10 (but you can make two separate EFI partitions if using Disklabel type: gpt).

Besides, your main mistake was probably not rebooting WIN10, as there is no such thing (as understood from WIN7 environment) called: shutdown. You need, as wanted, to master this challenge and this is fine too :joy:.

or try (no promise) as first step (besides loading Gparted from Live distro to see if WIN10 partitions still exist): $ sudo apt install testdisk (https://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk).

If it helps, it doesn’t sound like your laptop is bricked (as might happen when something goes wrong with updating the BIOS). Your laptop sounds like its trying to boot, it just isn’t able to find whatever files it needs to boot.

An alternative is to use your windows 7 laptop to create a windows 10 installer USB, reinstall windows 10 on your laptop (so you’ll at least get your laptop back), and then once it’s good to go try PureOS in a virtual machine. Then, if something happens, you haven’t lost anything, and if/when it does work, you can still try out the PureOS programs in a PureOS environment.

If you’d like more information on virtual machines, I or anyone else here would be happy to answer your questions.

Replying to all questions asked: I used your name/link so it’s easy to find my answer to your suggestion/question.

After the attempt to install PureOS, removing USB installer and rebooting, boot could not find any working drive.
Inserting the installer USB again, booting to USB PureOS installer, the installer started again, ran the screen of what it’s doing, then blank screen with cursor. I waited 15 minutes, and leaned on the Power button to shut down.

I picked up another internal HDD, and replaced the Win 10/HDD.
I put USB installer back, booted from it and the list of what it’s doing flashed by, and I noticed there was one “Failure” but flew by too fast to read.
Again, a black screen with a cursor. I waited and within a minute, PureOS showed up! Went through the generic setup again - language etcetera.
Found that it does not recognize the WiFi and wanted a cable.
Plugged in cable = and have Internet. WooHoo!!!

BUT, I’m not asked where to install PureOS, and nothing about partitioning. I checked the HDD, nothing on it. I checked the 250 Gig External HDD and it did not change - just has “$RECYCLE” and “System Volume Information” - same as before it was used for PureOS.


In BIOS, there is no mention of any Secure Boot.

I’m installing PureOs to see how it handles. And, to find a decent list of files that are made for PureOS, all in consideration towards buying the Librem 15 laptop.

I was informed (here) that PureOS is for the Librem 15, not other stuff. But the PureOS download page says:

System Requirements

  • A USB drive
  • A 64-bit processor
  • At least 1GB of RAM
  • At least 15GB of disk space

so I’m trying it first.

I see TWO links. One is about “live” meaning the other is the ‘dead’ version?

The Options the installer gave were, if memory is right:

  1. Test or install (I used this)
  2. Test or install (failsafe) I read about this and didn’t need it.
  3. and Advanced which I ran from :slight_smile: and *chose Test or Install

Thanks @Quarnero - I grabbedmy coffee (with 1 oz grappa for flavour) and reading them next.

Are you allowed to use that kind of language in here? :slight_smile: IF I get this installed properly, I’d like a dual boot but Win 10 is gone now. If it’s available, I couldn’t find it. And when I did try to boot Win10 said it was “repairing Windows” an after a short while, said it couldn’t repair it and options were to Shut down, or shut down. It’s why I picked up another HDD and install PureOS? But it’s not on the HDD, external HDD or as I can tell, not on the USB stick either. It’s a mystery to me where it runs from.
BTW, the Windows 7 I have is a desktop, nothing to do with the Win 10 laptop I was installing PureOS on to.

Thank you @dean.

  1. I tried to reboot Win 10, but it wanted to ‘repair’ the drive, and then said it couldn’t and my option was to shut down, or shut down (or whatever the term is in 10 yesterday) So I replaced the internal HDD with a new one.
    The laptop HDD that had Win 10 on it had nothing important on it, and my stuff is backed up to another drive anyway. I made sure to have that when 10 showed up un-announced one day.

No Windows, no problem. I’m keeping the Win 10 iHDD and one day, may try to resurrect 10.

Glad you chimed in @rcu - thanks,
My afterthought was perhaps I should have done just that - disconnect the iHDD and install to eHDD BUT, I think in reading everything here today, that I have the wrong kind of PureOS INSTALLER. The website “Download PureOS” has only one file to choose from, I chose it and now looking at the filename, it says:
Note the “live” part. So now I’m assuming it is a test and only installs maybe in RAM?
After powering down, shutting down, or killing it, and rebooting, I need to have the USB stick installer in, then I just fast-click through the language and stuff settings and soon reach the PureOS desktop screen. I think the installer must see PureOS somewhere because it doesn’t run through that DOS-like screen listing everything it is doing.

I am awaiting reply/ies to see if I am correct and wrong in the install type.

I hope I reached everyone that asked questions. If I missed you - sorry.

Where I am at now:

  • A window-less desktop - but that’s OK - now they can’t see in :slight_smile:
  • A boot meaning I must halt startup, chose drive to boot from, and choose the USB stick with Installer on it.
  • PureOS (beautiful BTW) loads and connects via cable, but no driver for the WiFi. REMEMBER. It’s a trial to see if I can work with it on a Librem 15.

Now, I can to try out PureOS and it’s ‘software’. I quite like the speed and lack of bloatware. But getting there is tedious.

On Windows 10: I really don’t care if 10 boils in Hades, but because too many I know have 10 running their computers, I need to stay in touch on that end with similar softwares. When MS re-took Cortana and disabled it in it’s “Feature Updates”, it hurt a lot of physically challenged people that good use for Cortana. I did. Many are scrambling now to raise money for a replacement to Cortana, without the invasive SMRC’ers. So while they scramble, I have time to find a more suitable, less invasive tools to get my work done.

Need more coffee - - - and grappa.:wink:

As for your “live” question, a “live boot” means an OS that is written to a USB drive that you can then use to test it and, if you so choose, to install to your hard disk from. I’m not clear on whether you’re running from your USB or from your hard disk, but if you have to have the USB plugged in in order for it to boot and it’s running a setup function each time it boots, I’d wager that you’re running off the USB in live mode.

As for the Windows thing wanting to repair itself, when you tried to install PureOS to the hard disk, it removed the Windows operating system, but not its bootloader (the files that let the computer boot the actual operating system). Since the files are there, but no operating system is, it tries to repair itself and then fails and tells you to shut down because that’s all it can do.

As for why your PureOS can’t find a working drive, there are a few different reasons. One could be your computer wants it to boot in UEFI mode but PureOS is a MBR operating system (I don’t know if this is actually the case for you, but I’ve had this issue before). I know that language is forbidden to you, but perhaps it’ll help one day if you get on an internet-searching-spree. Another could be that something happened with the installation. It’s hard to say from here.

And one last thing - While the system requirements for PureOS are pretty basic, the list of hardware that meets those requirements (while they are relatively pretty basic) is fairly small because, by default, PureOS lacks the drivers to run the vast majority of hardware. This is a consequence of only using drivers that are free and open source and not proprietary. For example, if the computers you’re using have AMD processors, they won’t work with PureOS out-of-the-box. You could maybe get it to boot and install the drivers from the Debian folks, but that’s another discussion.

I am glad you’re getting able to at least use it a little bit, though. If your intention is to explore software, then a running in live mode isn’t a bad way to go, it’ll just be slower than if it was actually installed to your computer (if you want to be extra sure, next time you run your PureOS, see if you can find the installer. If you can, you’re certainly running off the USB).

hi ! so, for purely scientific purposes i DID try to install a non-pirated version of w10-home (version 1909) on an EXTERNAL SSD connected by usb 3.0 just a few weeks ago.

what i discovered soon after the boot screen was that M$ REALLY does NOT want people installing their proprietary OS on external (removable) non-volatile media (HDDs and SSDs or even usb-thumb-drives/microSD/whatever-else-of-this-variety) … at least NOT out-of-the-box

Linux is more “forgiving” in that regard …

by the way - fun fact … you can “burn” any GNU+Linux distribution - that offers a LIVE .iso image to download - to ANY non-volatile media type there is and boot into that LIVE environment (for some you have to specifically select it DURING boot and others do it for you automatically - meaning you ARE - already - into the LIVE environment, once you have booted of the install medium)

another fun fact is with GNU+Linux you are allowed to use a usb-thumb-drive to install to another usb-thumb-drive (yay freedom!)

@jeremiah already prepared and takes care of the following two links: “PureOS provides convenient pre-built images” here and another link, same thing, is under the “The mirror is easy to use” paragraph.

And, I believe that Calamares (installer) runs only from Live environment, includes PureOS image, and therefore please don’t waste your time by expecting another kind of control that you might wish to have.

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You win the wager. Cheque is in the mail.
I had followed the instructions at https://pureos.net/download/ and I used Etcher to create the boot USB as instructed. I F12 into boot drive select and choose, USB.

I assumed that when the USB stick had been finished by Etcher, that it was the installer. Now I see what the Test or Install meant.

Jumping ahead, when PureOS boots and I reach the desktop and open Activities, at the very top is “Install PureOS” icon showing 2 out of 3 dots coloured in, and I assume that means part 3 isn’t done yet.

I will save everyone time, and run that icon, and see where it goes. Hopefully, next time post back, it will be via PureOS.

As far as windows goes, what Windows :slight_smile:. (I don’t care if it self-implodes so long as it leaves space for PureOS).

It was my intention to try out some of the default stuff like Libre office tools, and more, but if U order the Librem 15, I’ll have plenty of time to learn and fiddle with PureOS on my Toshiba ltop while I wait for shipping to catch up.




This is my second post here using PureOS on a Toshiba laptop.

Thanks to everyone here, and per the advice, I am running PureOS off a external HDD via USB port.

I feel I owe all whom helped a debt of gratitude so I’m serving up all the beer and pizza you can handle. Drop in any time it’s convenient today before 3:pm :slight_smile:

Thanks @Quarnero, @2disbetter, @dean, @Gavaudan, @rcu, @reC and @kieran for your ideas, time and patience. It is very much appreciated.(apologies to anyone I missed - I owe you extra beer)

Now - I’m off to gorge on PureOS. It’ is, I feel, safer to ingest than all the rest.



Ya, they use a different driver to anything they detect as removable, and it’s got all sorts of silly restriction. Most of the time you can’t even see a second partition if it’s there.

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