Install Linux Mint on external SSD

Is there anyway to install Mint onto an external SSD without ripping my existing HDD out of my laptop, which would take over an hour and require me to strip the laptop to bits to get to the existing HDD?

I remember doing this with Solus. It was actually quite easy.

Have you tried from the install usb of mint, making sure a different usb drive is available to install it on?


Just pay close attention when it shows you the disks you can install to…

During the install “live” session of Linux Mint - popout a terminal window and run lsblk to see your devices and partitions - the clue will be the sizings - so long as the two devices (internal, and external) devices are fairly different in size - you should be able to identify which one’s the external…

Should be fairly straightforward… I’ve done this with Ubuntu and elementary in the past, maybe even others…

Where you might run into issues is either or both of :

  • grub
  • uEFI

When I’ve done this in the past - I’ve just hit the “select temporary boot device” or whatever the wording is the uEFI or BIOS displays after POST (power on self test).

I haven’t done this for a few years but… Circa 2020 one customer gave me a Win10 ThinkPad to use with win10 on it - I mostly used it to boot elementary off a USB stick (persistent mode).


If you boot to the usb containing mint install,
Run the system start as normal
Connect the external drive
Make a note of its name or description
Start the install as normal from the desktop icon
It asks language, keyboard user name etc
Then asks where to install
Select the external drive you identified before (caution on selection correct drive)
Then select install

If there is a system on the external drive it will ask to confirm
Along side or replace

A short while later that that will finish and you remove drives as shown

Then you can boot to the external drive of mint as you did for the usb


Hi @kevinpfoley61 ,
As @daniel.m.tripp and and @xahodo have indicated you simply
install from a usb flash drive onto the externsl SSD… being careful to choose the correct disk .
The issues come when you get to installing the bootloader. The choice is

  • dont install a bootloader at all on the SSD… let the linux on your internal disk control booting… after the install on SSD finishes, boot the Linux on your internal disk
    and do update-grub…it should find the Mint on your SSD. Then on reboot the grub menu should include Mint
  • install a bootloader on the SSD … after install it should be able to boot from the SSD as well as from the internal disk. You can choose which in the BIOS.