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How to install EasyOS on a new SSD

March 13, 2019 — BarryK

This is another installation tutorial on installing to internal hard drive or SSD. Previously, there was one written specifically for older traditional-BIOS x86 computers:

https://easyos.org/install/easy-frugal-installation.html

And there was another written for modern UEFI-firmware x86 computers (manufactured since 2012):

https://easyos.org/install/how-to-install-easyos-on-your-hard-drive.html

The second tutorial used the Author's Mele PCG35 Apo mini-PC as a case-study. This tutorial also uses the Mele.

The above tutorials considered how to install EasyOS on the existing internal hard drive, either magnetic-platter type or modern solid state drive (SSD). This tut takes a different approach: purchase a new drive and use the entire drive for EasyOS. Which, it turns out, is extremely easy to do, and has the great advantage that the original drive can be left entirely alone, untouched -- which means that if you want to go back to how things were originally, just remove the new drive.

Well, it doesn't have to be an actual new drive, just any drive that that can be put into the computer and used entirely by EasyOS. Let's go...

Install new SSD

The Author (Barry Kauler) decided to buy himself a Christmas present:

https://www.austin.net.au/shop-categories/hard-drives-ssd/kingston-technology-a400-240-gb-serial-ata-iii-2-5.html

Only AU$54 for a 240GB SSD, 2.5inch SATA3. This is far cheaper per-GB than USB Flash drives. The Mele PCG35 Apo has internal provision for an extra 2.5inch SATA and a M.2 SATA drives. The cabling is provided for the 2.5inch drive, so it was a simple matter to install:

image1

Mounting screws are not provided with the drive, but was given them by the guy at Austin Computers.

The Mele is a Win10 PC, so the next step is to boot EasyOS from a USB-stick...

Bootup Easy

Firstly, you must bootup EasyOS from a USB-stick. In theory, the steps described in this page could be done while running any Linux distribution, however, it will be much easier if running Easy.

Hence, read the pages that describe how to download the EasyOS image file, write it to a USB-stick, and boot from it:

https://easyos.org/install/prepare-your-computer-for-booting-linux.html

and:

https://easyos.org/install/how-to-write-easyos-to-a-flash-drive.html

After booting up Easy, you will see the drive partition icons along the bottom of the screen -- notable by its absence is the Kingston SSD...

Stop for a moment and think what we are aiming to do -- bootup EasyOS on the Mele from USB-stick, then write the EasyOS image file to the SSD. However, this can be done elsewhere -- another computer running Linux, in which you can temporarily plug-in the Kingston SSD drive. Just an alternative to consider.

About that "missing" SSD...

Install EasyOS to the new SSD

You need to have the downloaded image file, which is of the form easy-<version>-amd64.img.gz, which you can get from here:

http://distro.ibiblio.org/easyos/amd64/releases/pyro/

The Author put it onto the USB-stick before booting up on the Mele. Now to write it to the SSD:

image2

...drive "mmcblk0" is the original 32GB SSD, "sdb" is the USB-stick that have booted off. "sda" is the Kingston SSD -- it doesn't show because it is completely blank, no partitions.

There are two different ways that you can populate the Kingston SSD:

First, use GParted to create two partitions, a fat32 ESP boot-partition, and second ext4 partition. This would be done as per the previous tutorials.

Second method, just write the easy-<version>-amd64.img.gz file directly to the drive, just like you would do with a Flash-stick. After all, what is an SSD? -- just a big Flash-drive.

So, the second method is shown in the above snapshot, open a terminal and run easydd. Then, when it asks for target-drive, select sda:

image3

...notice something very interesting: the write speed was 63.7MB/s, that's Mega-Bytes per second. However, it is copying from the USB-stick, which is going to bring it down -- though, that is a SanDisk Extreme, which is extremely fast, like a SSD. Anyway, we expect to be getting a speed well below the manufacturer's claimed sequential write speed -- even if sourcing off a very fast drive -- that is pretty much par for the course.

This SSD would be somewhere near the bottom for SSDs, however, it is far above magnetic-platter hard drives. It is also very far above bottom-rung el-cheapo USB-sticks, which could be as low as 3MB/sec.

Kingston SSD is fast:
The Kingston A400 SSD is no slouch. There are some simple speed tests here:

http://bkhome.org/news/201812/thoughts-on-hdd-and-ssd-speed.html

Having written the image file to the SSD, that's it, ready to go. It only remains to select the SSD in the UEFI-setup at bootup, however, before doing that, there are a couple of optional useful tweaks...

Tweak 1: Modify WKG_DIR

After having written the image file to the SSD, two partitions will appear, sda1 and sda2. The former is the "boot partition", the latter the "working partition" -- go ahead, click on them, see what is in them.

The boot-partition has the files vmlinuz (the Linux kernel), initrd (the initramfs) and easy.sfs (the entire EasyOS filesystem). If you have been reading other EasyOS documentation, you will probably know something about these files. The only thing to know right now. is that initrd is loaded into RAM at the start of bootup and contains a file inside it named BOOT_SPECS, that enables the Linux kernel to locate the boot-partition and working-partition.

There is nothing to do here, it will just work. However, if you click on the initrd file, it can be opened up, and you can edit that BOOT_SPECS file. It's contents look like this:

BOOT_UUID='308C-E204'
BOOT_DIR=''
WKG_UUID='3dd847b4-41e4-11e9-a94e-c025e90feb00'
WKG_DIR=''

The little tweak that you can do is open BOOT_SPECS in a text editor and specify a directory for WKG_DIR:

WKG_DIR='easy'

What that will do it tell EasyOS to put everything into folder "easy" in the working-partition. This makes things tidier, so you can use the rest of the partition for anything else. Just an organisational detail, you will see the convenience of it if you do it.

After modifying BOOT_SPECS, you will have been prompted to click on initrd again, to close it up.

Tweak 2: Modify the reFind menu

It is stated above that there will be two partitions on the SSD, sda1 and sda2. Yes, but versions of Easy prior to 1.0.11 only had one partition, and sda2 was created at first bootup. This snapshot was taken from one of those earlier installations, so you can only see sda1:

image7

It doesn't matter which version of Easy, that boot-partition has the same files in it.

...click on the "sda1" icon and open "refind.conf" in the Geany text editor. Change just these two lines, from this:

#scanfor manual,internal
scanfor manual

to this:

scanfor manual,internal
#scanfor manual

...what that does it cause reFind to automatically scan for internally installed operating systems, and add them to the menu. You might find it useful to study this page of the reFind manual:

https://www.rodsbooks.com/refind/configfile.html

Whether you apply these two tweaks, or not, is up to you. Note though, tweak #1 has to be done now, before the first bootup, whereas tweak #2 can be done anytime in the future.

Whatever, we are now ready to boot from the SSD...

Booting the new SSD

There is no need to install a boot manager such as GRUB. It is just a matter of running the UEFI-Setup and tell it to boot the SSD. You need to hold down a "hot key" at power-on, in the case of the Mele it is the "Esc" key, and the UEFI-Setup will open:

image8

...notice, the "SanDisk Extreme" drive is at the top. That is the USB-stick. The Kingston SSD is down at #5, and it has to be moved up to #1. Note, "UEFI OS" is a fat32 esp 640MB partition that the Author created for earlier installation experiments -- just ignore that.

Then, the reFind menu of the Kingston SSD will display:

image9

...it has done some automatic discovery, and found the Win10 installation. So, you could use this menu to boot any installed OS, there is no need to go back to the UEFI-Setup.

You will be asked for keyboard layout and a password...

image10

Then we have a desktop...

image11

...yay!

"sda2" is only 223GB. Well the specification of 240GB would be 240,000,000 bytes, not the powers-of-2 figure.

That's it. This is a beautiful way to install Easy. In fact, it is portable, just like a USB-stick -- if the Kingston SSD is unplugged and plugged into another PC, voila, it is installed on the other computer.

Have fun! 


(c) Copyright Barry Kauler, December 2018, March 2019, all reproduction rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Barry Kauler has provided these instructions in good faith, however there is a disclaimer of all responsibility if something does go wrong. It shouldn't, but if you type in something incorrectly and wipe your C: drive, that is entirely your own responsibility. if you are a Linux newbie and want to install Easy on the internal hard drive, it is recommended that you find a Linux-knowledgeable guy to help. 

Tags: install