Can apps on an originally-internal, bootable Win10 HDD, be run if HDD is made external?

Hey, @vasileios, if I

  1. replace my Dell 6420 laptop’s internal HDD drive (W10) with a new SSD (made bootable to Linux/Mint), then

  2. place the old HDD (W10) into an external enclosure so that it can be accessed thru a USB port on the laptop,

can I boot to the now-Linux laptop and then, from there, run already-installed, W10 programs on the now-external HDD?

NOT a dual-boot situation. Just boot to Linux (SSD), then reach over to external HDD’s Win10 to run those programs.

Sorta like an external sandbox.


@nwarren did @vasileios ever get back to you?

Not yet, @BigDaveAZ . Thanks for asking.

In my experience, you won’t be able to run such already installed Windows programs on your Linux. Of course, if it is a dual boot situation, you would still have your Windows OS alongside as though nothing had changed. I don’t advise this though.
I am hoping that in the not too distant future there will be no need for such apps as wine anymore because there will be sufficient alternatives to Windows programs available to Linux users.

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Yeah, how wonderful that more and more Windows-alternatives appear each day.

Welcome to the Forum, @Orkeven .

Hey @nwarren!
My apologies for the delay. My schedule got super-packed lately but it will “rest” around June 5th.
The short answer is yes, it is very possible and I have done it several times. Once you connect your external drive, make sure that you boot up to your Linux, open up a terminal and execute:

sudo apt install os-prober && sudo update-grub

So that it detects and adds the Windows part on the boot-loader.

Hello @Orkeven and welcome to the forums!
What you mentioned is true. There is also the option of using the actual external drive as a device for a virtual machine. However, I wouldn’t advise it much, as it could change the hardware configuration in there - and we all know how lunatic Windows can get on that regard. :laughing:
However, if Windows is already installed on an external drive, then it’s doable to make it run. What one cannot do, is go through the installation process directly to the external device. Windows wants to be the “one and only”!

You are also correct on the fact that there are numerous Linux alternatives to the software solutions. All it takes is getting accustomed to them.

Awesome, @vasileios ! Thank you. And no apologies are necessary. I’m just happy you are here and willing to guide all of us.

This isn’t urgent. It’s just my next step. I can wait for your response until your schedule has more breathing room.

Question 1: Installing the os-prober (etc.), will have no effect on my Linux SSD when the Windows HDD is NOT plugged in. Right? I’m guessing that when the os-prober doesn’t find any non-Linux drive, it just smiles and takes a nap.

Question 2: Do I need to re-run the terminal command EACH time I plug the Win HDD back in? Or is it enough to install it the initial time, so that then, when I want to use the Win HDD, the commands automatically execute when I boot up Linux SDD with the Win HDD attached?

I intend to plug in the Windows HDD (external, USB) ONLY when I want to (occasionally) use one of the existing programs.

Question 3: Will the Linux-attached, Win HDD continue to try to access the internet (just as it did when installed internally)? If yes, then I assume it would perform best while the laptop was offline.

Question 4: What do I see when I access the external, Win HDD? Windows itself? Then I run programs from within that shell? Or do I bypass the Win-shell and directly access each program’s executable in order to run its program?

Question 5: Because this process of externally-running Windows programs seems so easy to facilitate, what is the benefit of running Windows/programs within a virtual machine (VMware) partition on a computer’s sole, Linux drive?

Thanks again. Kind regards,

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Hey @nwarren!
Thank you so much for your kind words!

My small break is about to come to an end, so I’ll have to continue down with my tedious deadline!

Question 1
All utilities and apps on Linux are in slumber mode until you need them. Unless it’s a service. OS-prober is not a service, so you are good! You don’t need to have any other distros or OS or drives installed to have it.

Question 2
You only need to run the sudo update-grub once, with your Win drive attached. However, keep an eye on the following two things:

  1. Don’t select the Windows boot-loader when you don’t have the drive connected.
  2. When you perform a system update and you see a new version of grub or the kernel, know that the update process will run update-grub on its own. If you have the drive disconnected, then the Windows entry will disappear. In that case, either connect and mount your Windows drive, or simply re-run the command later, once you reconnect the drive.

Question 3
Since Windows is not running, it’s completely amputated. It cannot request any form of access as it doesn’t have any services or libraries active. When Windows is shut off, it’s literally shut off. It’s not like the phones that pretend to be shut-off but send data in the background. :wink:

Question 4
When you have your Windows drive attached, Linux will see it like any other drive. It won’t be able to run the OS itself or the apps installed on it (the process differs here). You will only be able to access your files. To run your Windows applications, you will need to boot into Windows from the grub boot-loader when you start (or reboot) your system.

Another option, if your system has enough RAM (I recommend 16GB or more), would be to install Windows inside Linux by using a Virtual Machine application, like VMware Workstation. Then, whenever you need to run an app on Windows, you just fire it up from inside of Linux, do what you need to do, and set up a shared folder to drop the file back to your Linux. For comfort, make sure your main system has at least a 500GB drive or more.

Question 5
I accidentally answered this question above! The upside is that you can perform this process much faster and without rebooting. The downside is that you may not get full native speed on your Virtual Machine. Also, you will be limited to the amount of RAM and drive space you have on your Linux partition.

And you are very welcome!