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Grub error 17, cannot access bios or boot devices

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http://www.linuxquestions.org – I've been running Ubuntu for a few years, on a few computers, and I guess I got complacent. I tried installing Mangaka One onto a usb connected to my netbook, an msi wind u100 running its original xp. I wasn't intending grub to installed on my hard drive, but it seems to have been, at least partially. The computer will only boot - even into grub - with the usb stick attached. Otherwise I get Grub error 17 and everything stops. I was going to get a recovery disk on a usb and fix the mbr, but now I've damaged the usb drive install. I'm not sure why (possibly a hibernation file from windows), but now I can't get the prompts to get into the bios or select a boot device when I power on the netbook, and everything freezes at Grub error 17. Is there a way to get any kind of prompt at this point? If there isn't the next thing i can think of is to disconnect my hard drive, and then access the boot prompt and switch the boot order. OK, so long-winded multiple question. Here's the order of priority for me: 1. Can I get a prompt which will let me edit/repair Grub? 2. If not, will disconnecting the hard drive let me access the system bios and/or change the boot order? From there, with the help of various posts I've read, I should be good. But for next time: 3. How can I do an install to a usb drive without installing grub on the main hard drive? (HowTos)