1 TB Buffalo-PUT SSD (USB Drive): Install ZorinOS on same USB Drive as GRUB Bootloader?

Is it possible to install the GRUB installer on one partition of a 1 TB Buffalo-PUT SSD (USB Drive), create another partition on the same USB Drive in Windows, and then use GRUB installer to install ZorinOS on the other partition (doing everything on the same USB Drive)?

This is the question I have; I have a Windows 11 setup on my laptop (no DVD drive, no extra space on my internal hard drive, and no other USB drive available). The Windows 11 setup would remain untouched.

I'm planning on using this method for a few weeks to test ZorinOS as a means of seeing if it would replace my Windows setup. I don't want to use a "live session" on ZorinOS, as I'll be saving work files and everything through ZorinOS throughout my testing.

Is this possible? Has anyone ever tried before with the latest ZorinOS version?

Thank you very much, everyone, for the support. :pray:t2:

You can follow this guide but you would have to remove your internal drives.

Install Ubuntu on Another SSD

That's the issue, though... my internal SSD is non-removeable - so, that wouldn't work, unfortunately, @NxtMighty .

Is it absolutely necessary to remove or disconnect the internal SSD? Or, is it just a pre-caution? Why would I have to ensure it's disconnected?

There is another way too.
You must use manual partitioning without removing internal ssd

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Okay, thank you for confirming, @NxtMighty ; so, here's what I was thinking - please, can you help me if I'm incorrect?

  1. I format the entire USB drive in FAT32, and then use Rufus to flash the GRUB bootloader (after downloading ZorinOS),
  2. Once the GRUB bootloader is installed - and, if the GRUB bootloader is installed to the entire USB drive - I enter into AOMEI and shrink the partition of the GRUB bootloader to 10 GBs (to be safe),
  3. Through AOEMI, I create an ext4 partition in the same USB drive with the remaining disk space,
  4. I go to my BIOS settings, disable fast boot (legacy boot is already disabled), and then boot into GRUB bootloader, and
  5. I enter the installation media through the GRUB bootloader, and then install ZorinOS (no "live session") to the ext4 partition on my USB drive.

Would this work - and, if so, how will I know what partition to install Zorin OS to - without causing issues with my Windows setup on my internal SSD? Should I look for any specific partition name, ID, size, etc.?

Thank you very much, @NxtMighty . :pray:t2:

Can I ask for better Understanding? You want to make a Dual-Boot System but with an external SSD Drive, yes?

First I would say: Use for the Boot Medium an extra USB Stick and not Your Drive.

Then start the Stick and start the Installation. And there You should use the Something else Option to manually create the Partitions. Your SSD Drive You should format to ext4 an set the Mounting Point / on it.

And under the Partition Table you will find the Option ''Device for boot loader installation''. There You should search for the Windows Boot Manager:

But to be honest: I don't think it is a good Idea tu run it on an external Drive. But it is Your Thing. I hope it will work for You.

Thank you very much for reponding, @Ponce-De-Leon ; so, what I am planning on doing is just going with an external SSD for now until I test Linux out - I don't want to touch my Windows setup at all.

So, initially, I was hoping to install ZorinOS to two different partitions on the same USB Drive - one which would have the GRUB bootloader installed, and one that I'd use the GRUB bootloader to install ZorinOS as a permanent state to (not "live session").

However, I realized that I'd need to wipe the SSD during installation (thus needing to unmount the GRUB Installer) in order to re-write the USB Drive - which won't work since I'd be using the GRUB bootloader in ZorinOS to re-install ZorinOS permanently.

Considering that that won't work, I wonder if I could install VirtualBox in Windows 11 and then run the ZorinOS .iso and then install ZorinOS to my USB Drive from within Windows 11 via VirtualBox? Would that work, @Ponce-De-Leon ?

@the4realpsych Based on your comments, I think you don't have a usb stick. No Problem even then.

First you need to confirm if there is at least 5gb of hard disk space on your internal ssd. If not, you can move some files to external one.

If you have an usb no need to do above mentioned steps. Just confirm us if you have an usb.

Accessing External SSD through Virtualbox can be difficult. Also I have no experience of it.

to @the4realpsych
I have had similar thoughts. but simplified all to

  1. one SSD for WIN10/11,
  2. one external SSD for ZORIN17.1 (My SSDs are all the same brand and size 124 GB internal and external, even the one holding Win10/11 which is temporarily the build in one and thus slightly faster. The others are connected as USB via the European standard for USBs. They are fast, but never faster than an internal HD bus.)
  3. one SSD for Mint21.3

GUB2 imposes problems with Win10/11 soon as mixed with any Linux.
So when I boot with F11 key which starts each SSD as a single entity.
I assume Grub2 is stored for my separating the use of an OS on a single SSD.
In my back-up all comes together on a larger SSD and an old large HD mirroring the SSD.
For me memory management is crucial.
Mint addresses swap-sectors, which I need to prove ZORIN can do that too.
Now I compare them on equal footage.

I never used a Virtual Machine. So, I can't tell if this would work with an external Drive.

But maybe You could simply use a bigger internal SSD. You could clone Your existing Drive to the bigger One, then build this in Your Machine and then You could set up a normal Dual Boot System.

@NxtMighty , I don't have another USB other than the one I'd be flashing to - however, I may be able to squeeze 5-10 GBs from my internal partition set aside for my files in Windows 11 to install and boot the live Grub bootloader - only problem is that I have no idea how to install to an internal partition on my internal hard drive - as normally installation of an .iso formats the entire hard drive (not just a partition) - which would completely wipe my Windows 11 setup.

@reinhh , this looks way too complicated for a noob like me, lol... I'd rather just be straight and simple - quick, lol.

@Ponce-De-Leon , I would love to do that - but, I'm not planning on buying a completely new SSD just for Linux, lol. I only plan on trying it out for awhile and then completely replacing Windows 11 with it if I like it and it suits my needs. No need for me to make another purchase just for that.

Now, I did already try with VirtualBox to install ZorinOS on my external USB - but, the installation didn't go smoothly and gave me a "you need to load the kernel first" error - directly in GRUB terminal - without booting ZorinOS.

I came to that issue by using "Erase Everything" in installation type, pointing to my external USB, and then finishing installation without any inherent errors during installation. I believe that something went wrong during installation and wasn't made aware of it. Not sure what, though.

Okay so here is what you have to do.

Step 1.
Make Bootable Drive without USB.


  1. Shrink a partition of atleast 5 GB. Note the drive letter of partition you selected.
  2. Now install Unetbootin.
  3. In the Unetbootin window, select the Disk Image radio button. Load the Zorin OS ISO file.
  4. Select Type as Hard Drive
  5. In Partition select the letter of partition you created. Be careful all files on partition will be deleted.
  6. Wait for process to complete.

Step 2.
Boot into Live Zorin

  1. Now plug in the external SSD and restart the computer.
  2. Upon restart, you should see option of Unetbootin. Select it.
  3. Now Zorin will load.
  4. Click on Install Zorin.
  5. Uncheck all checkboxes when prompted.
  6. Click on something else when prompted.
  7. Now you need to identify the device name of external ssd such as /dev/sdX where X is a,b, or c.
  8. Your external SSD should not have any partitions while you internal SSD should.
  9. Now on external SSD make the following partitions.
Sl.No:  Partition  File System           Device         Allocated Size   Partition Type
1       efi        FAT32                /dev/sdb1       0.5 GB           Primary
2       swap       Swap area            /dev/sdb2       Double the ram         Primary
3       /          ext4 with journaling /dev/sdb3      All size         Primary
  1. Select device for Bootloader installation as /dev/sdb1, if your external SSD is /dev/sdb and EFI partition is sdb1.
  2. Proceed with the installation.
  3. Wait for installation to complete.

Step 3.
Change Boot Priority

  1. After installation restart your computer but do not remove your external SSD or anything.
  2. Press the BIOS key.
  3. Go to Boot tab.
  4. Change Boot Priority to USB device 1st and Hard Disk 2nd.
  5. Save the changes and exit.

@NxtMighty , this looks good; I want to ask, though: you mentioned UnetBootin.

Could this process through UnetBootin also work for getting the live installer flashed to a partition on my USB flashdrive, and then for getting the installer to install the fully-working distro on the same USB flashdrive?

Also, what if I wanted the most optimal setup in terms of partitions (as a power user), would you suggest the creation of additional partitions (such as keeping /home separated from / - and, creating an encryption partition, etc.)?

It would be difficult to flash installer to a flash drive and then install it on the same flash drive.

You can create the / partition of 6-8 gbs and keep home partition the rest space.
Also I don't know about encrypted partition.

Hi @NxtMighty , @Ponce-De-Leon , and @reinhh , guys, I was able to use VirtualBox (VB) through Windows 11 to install ZorinOS as a permanent installation (no live session) on my USB flashdrive.

I enabled EFI Mode in VB, connected my flashdrive, and then did the install using the "something else" installation mode, and I created the following partitions:

Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4
/efi fat32 1 GB
/ ext4 w/ journaling 40% of my remaining USB space
/home ext4 w/ journaling 60% of my remaining USB space
swap -- 8 GBs
encryption -- 500 MBs

It boots just fine after disabling Secure Boot, though - as a USB - it's just a tiny bit slow. It'll work for testing it out, though. Hopefully, I'll find it'll be a good replacement for Windows 11 and will install it on my main SSD (my internal one).

I have a few questions, though:

  1. So that I don't have to turn Secure Boot on and off each time I switch between Linux and Windows, is there a way to enable ZorinOS to automatically boot correctly with Secure Boot enabled? If so, how can I do this?
  2. How can I correctly, smoothly, and completely migrate from the GNOME environment to KDE - mitigating issues with the change of environment?
  3. What are essential tasks I should complete now that I have ZorinOS installed?
  4. Is there a guide I can follow that will teach me the essentials of Linux that I need to know if I'm going to use it as a daily driver?

Thank you very much, everyone. :pray:t2: