Is it possible to boot Linux and/or Windows from an external Thunderbolt drive e.g. the Samsung X5 or MyDigitalSSD Pocket Vault Express attached to the Thunderbolt port on Bean Canyon NUCs - NUC8i5BEK or similar? Or boot from a Thunderbolt storage enclosure such as the the OWC Mercury Helios 3?
From what I've read Thunderbolt should be close to a transparent pass-thru of PCIe 3.0 but the available documentation seems a bit ambiguous - there is BIOS support and options for Thunderbolt but I can't work out if booting of Linux, Windows or other OS is supported on the NUCs via Thunderbolt.
My application is fast and easy swapping of operating systems with no performance penalty. I currently use an older NUC 5i5MYHE with a sata to esata cable but it is a bit messy for on the road use (can't find a panel mount sata port that fits the NUC case well).
Thanks for your help,
I don't have any peripherals that will allow me to answer this confidently, but you should be able to boot via Thunderbolt 3. The OS you boot must support this as well.
Hope this helps,
Thank you for posting in the Intel® community.
Are you looking for confirmation about if that setting is functional; or if this is a setting that you are currently testing/trying? If you are testing this setting could you share with us more information on the outcome of the testing?
Hope this helps.
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I was checking your case and would like to know if you need further help. If so, please do not hesitate in replying back.
Intel Customer Support Technician
Under Contract to Intel Corporation
Thanks Scott and Leonardo for your suggestions but there doesn't seem to be a definitive answer. I guess it is a case of try it and see...I thought Intel might know.
Thunderbolt boot is supported and there is a setting in BIOS that allows that: Thunderbolt Boot under Advanced>Boot>Boot Configuration.
As Scott mentioned the Storage Device has to support it as well as the Operating System, we have a list of compatible devices that you may want to check, we validated very few Thunderbolt devices but still a good idea to check, here is the URL: http://compatibleproducts.intel.com/ http://compatibleproducts.intel.com/
I hope this helps,
Thanks that sounds promising.
Some of the compatible products on that list look like they may work.
I think it is quite a nice use case if people can easily switch external Thunderbolt disks and boot from them with no performance penalty.
I was hoping to find some answers on this topic as well, but I don't see any threads where anyone has reported back?
I've been bike commuting with my NUC8i7HVK, but, even at it's fairly diminutive size, I still can't really hit up any trails on the way home for fear of smashing it.
As such, I've just ordered a second identical NUC8i7HVK setup to leave at work, and a Samsung X5 drive, with the hope I can simply carry just that back and forth to boot both systems from.
This means I'll also be forced to switch back to Linux, as Windows really doesn't like being moved between PC's like that. That will also in-turn force me to replace my Samsung Odyssey VR headset with a more Linux-friendly Vive Pro if I wish to continue using VR (I like to stitch 360 photos/video).
So, yeah, I'm making a pretty big investment based on the fact that this should work, but with no confirmation from anyone that it actually does :-(
I agree, it would be nice to hear some feedback about this combination from anybody, unfortunately I don't have the necessary hardware to test that and we have not officially validated it.
I will be closing the internal case we automatically create for community issues since there is not much I can contribute at this point, the community stays open. As I said before, unfortunately I cannot give you any recommendation but if you end up purchasing this hardware and have problems, please let me know or even better, get in contact with the support center and create a ticket, https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/contact-support.html# @6 https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/support/contact-support.html# @6 phone or chat are the quicker support options I would say.
Well, my Samsung X5 TB3 SSD arrived.
I plugged it into my NUC8i7HVK while running Windows and used their software to verify the firmware was good and everyhing. Windows TB3 panel listed it as authenticated.
I then removed my M.2 w Windows and boot the Fedora 29 live image from an SD Card. No problem (well, it was slower than all snot actually, but it eventually start up) - Linux saw the X5 and partitioned/installed onto it.
After the install completed, I powered off the live image, removed the SD Card for the live image / installer, and powered on with just the X5 plugged in, only to be greeted by an error that no bootable drives could be found :-(
I triple checked all the "boot from Thunderbolt" settings were enabled (I'm on latest BIOS 0051), tried disabling the TB3 security, tried disabling Secure Boot, all to no avail. No drives listed in the Boot section of the BIOS.
I then put the SD Card for the live image back in, powered on, and I believe it found the boot loader on the SD which in turn then saw the Fedora install on the X5, and boot it!
I verified in the new Gnome Thunderbolt Devices panel that the X5 was listed as authenticated, powered off again, removed the SD Card, powered on, and from then on it's boot Fedora directly off the X5 with no SD or other drives in the system!
So, uhh, yeah, dunno why it wouldn't boot it at first (maybe authentication), but after a bit of finagling, it seems to be working! :-)
Thanks very much for trying this and reporting back. It sounds promising. I'm not sure what is happening with the authentication dance / finagling but if it is now booting Fedora standalone off the X5 that is great news. I was pondering a fallback position of booting off a usb (3.1/3/2) stick and chain loading from the Thunderbolt drive but that would I think also perhaps need help from the BIOS for modern secure systems.
Yeah, for a minute there I was thinking I might have to go find the smallest/cheapest M.2 I could, just to host a bootloader.
I went in the BIOS again to shut off Secure Boot (Linux refuses to hibernate with it on, as you can't guarantee the disk image wasn't tampered with), and noticed no mention of the X5, but that "Fedora" is now listed in the Boot section. So, yeah, I don't really know how exactly UEFI works to register operating systems in there or whatever, but I think that's what had to happen for it to be working now. I couldn't tell you exactly what caused it to happen post-install and not during install though.
That is great news and thanks a lot for reporting!
I will bring this up to the team and will try to add it as a "customer validated component" so that others can benefit from it.
I just got 3 of my NUCs to boot Win10 from an external Samsung 950 PRO 512GB NVMe SSD mounted into a TEKQ Cube enclosure.
Once a "Thunderbolt Boot" setting in Visual BIOS was enabled for the NUCs, the external SSD was attached via a StartTech 0.5m TB3 (40Gbps) cable, and Win10 booted from the external SSD the same way as from an internal SSD. I even ran Samsung Magician and it could see both the external and internal NVMe SSDs.
The 3 NUCs that were successfully tested with Win10 OS boot from external NVMe SSD:
* NUC8i7BEH (Bean Canyon)
* NUC7i5BNH (Baby Canyon)
* NUC6i7KYK (Skull Canyon)
The only quirk I discovered with the Samsung 950 PRO SSD in the TEKQ Cube enclosure: Hotplug failure! If I attach the external SSD to the TB3 port then boot Win10 from internal SSD, the external SSD is detected and disk partitions show up properly. If I leave the external SSD detached, boot Win10 from internal SSD, then hotplug the external SSD into the TB3 port, the drive is not detected! I'll be starting a new thread to discuss this issue.