I want to run ubuntu on my laptop, however it is property of my school until i graduate. With that being said I can't put linux on it, and i like using vista from time to time. I was thinking of getting an external harddrive and running ubuntu off of it. Would that be a good idea? If so can anyone reccommend me some good external hard drives? If not perhaps some other methods to use ubuntu. I know some of my friends partitioned their hard drives but i dont really want to do that with mine, seeing as they might have to face a fee when they turn their computers in next year and receive new models.
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Are you positive that is what they actually meant? It doesn't make sense, because they would be monumentally stupid to continue to use the same un-reinstalled disk for the next student. In other words, the school takes your computer back, just erase your personal files, and then hands it back out to the next student? Makes no sense at all.
They would almost have to put an entire new image on the disk to ensure on-going proper operation and security, and I'm sure they are set up to do just that.
You might be able to make an image backup (e.g. using freeware DriveImageXML or similar), then modify the drive contents to your heart's content. Then before you turn the drive back in to the school you zero-out the drive and then restore the original content from the backup image.
You might be able to use a program like freeware XXclone to make a bootable backup copy of the hard-drive to a hard drive you purchase. You then remove the original drive and install your new backup drive, and you use your backup drive as the main drive. Your original drive is now your backup drive and will not be altered by anything you do on the new drive you have just installed.
When you are ready to return your computer, you once again swap out the drives and the school has their original unmodified drive.
However, you must then render your backup copy of the OS and applications unusable (unless some are freeware). In other words, you would need to off-load and save whatever personal data you want to keep and then treat the drive in a way to destroy the extant OS and applications (using an application like Killdisk or similar) because you no longer have any justification for a backup of those files.
The school may have software installed such that when you connect to the school network/website, it reports any and all software you have installed on the computer. Not hard to do at all.
That would mean that even your friends that have setup a dual-boot environment would eventually have that fact transmitted to the school.
Of course, that's a level of paranoia that is usually reserved for Microsoft.
Also of course, another reason the school may prefer no other software on the computer is that it complicates support and security. And, if you call support they will probably see the added software on the computer if they do a remote-connection help.
edit to add-comment on additional impact on tech support