Plug in SSD with different operating systems

Would it be possible to run different operating systems by plugging an SSD in with that OS stored?

I’m fairly certain this should work. You can test the exact setup by doing the same with external drives and your current computer. I’m not sure how Windows would react to being installed on an external drive, but any Linux distribution should work perfectly fine.

2 Likes

Storage Expansion Cards are fast enough to install your operating system onto and you can boot from them too. This enables use cases like putting Windows 10, Ubuntu, or a privacy-focused OS like Qubes on a card and booting from it when needed.

From Storage Expansion Cards
Should work just fine with other external drives.

5 Likes

@Marro64 @Stewart_Porteous @iFreilicht

Yup, that’s correct. The storage Expansion Cards work the same as any external drive and are fast enough to boot an OS from. I’m actually writing this from an Ubuntu install booting from a 1TB Expansion Card :slight_smile:

15 Likes

I would love something like that for sure as it opens up gaming on Windows as well once someone has Linux on their system. My biggest thing is making sure that my Windows install doesn’t get borked in the event I run an update to it. (Which wouldn’t be done unless absolutely necessary)

Is it possible through the machine firmware to disable the internal storage ?
That would solve potential problems of running an alternate OS from the Expansion Card.
In the old days, it was possible on Compaq machines to disable the storage in the BIOS; I don’t know if that could be done nowadays.

You can adjust the boot order to set bootable USB drives to have the priority.

@nrp thanks for your answer.
Unfortunately, setting the boot order doesn’t solve the problem of an OS being installed on the Expansion Card storage having access to the internal SSD.

If it’s not possible to disable the internal storage in the BIOS, can’t you just encrypt the contents of the internal storage? Then someone booting to external storage should not be able to access it without the encryption password.

It should be a possible solution yes, using bitlocker.

You can also use Veracrypt if Bitlocker is not an option! I put Veracrypt on all my laptops by default so I don’t really have to worry at all if my machine gets stolen in an airport or something while it’s powered off

2 Likes

Somebody should see if you can get TAILS to run from one of the storage modules. It should, but I remember it being picky about flash drives, so it might be picky here too. That would be a whole separate OS that also leaves your main storage totally untouched.

Somebody should see if you can get TAILS to run from one of the storage modules. It should, but I remember it being picky about flash drives, so it might be picky here too. That would be a whole separate OS that also leaves your main storage totally untouched.

@Keith_Anderson I’ve been able to run TAILS off a cd and a sdcard before so this seems like it should be no trouble. Why do you want to run a tiny live OS on such a large module and not a normal usb? maybe you have one with more default apps

I have Ventoy bootable via USB with various live ISOs on it; 250gb expansion with Ubuntu on it; plan to put Arch on another. I’ve set the internal nvme to not be bootable (mounted on demand) but host my various work / git / builds since those are os-independent and need the speed more. I’ve heard that mounting windows from the expansion takes a bit more effort since windows to go was removed, but haven’t tried it yet.

1 Like

Is there a good way to install Windows to removable media these days? Since Windows To Go is no longer supported, I was under the impression that it’s no longer possible assuming you want to run modern releases.

My channel actually made a video on putting windows on an external drive. We needed it for a few projects and the whole windows-to-go issue was really frustrating. Hopefully the video can help you out!

windows on an SSD

3 Likes