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#1 2013-10-30 03:27:53

ghborrmann
Member
Registered: 2012-05-01
Posts: 9

Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

I'm currently dual booting Arch Linux and Windows (98!).  I am still using Windows for my main applications, but it has become less and less satisfactory since MS stopped maintaining it years ago.  I like Arch Linux, and am considering switching to use it exclusively.  However, my experience with Arch Linux has shown me that I can't rely on upgrades going perfectly smoothly.  My worst experience was when Arch Linux changed to use systemd instead of sysv.  (The only way I could handle the transition was to scrap my Arch Linux installation and install a system version over it..)

I have read a number of discussions here in this forum relating to my problem.  One of the good suggestions for coping with this problem was to dual boot with a different flavor of Linux, so that a working system would always be available even when there was a temporary problem with the Arch Linux system.  The thought occurred to me, why not make the second system also Arch Linux?  That way, one system could be upgraded keeping the other system usable until the upgraded system proved stable.

I have search these forums, and found a few suggestions, including creating the second system as a virtual machine in the first, but I don't want to do that.  Has anyone done a multi-boot with two Arch Linux installations?  Does this require a single boot partition for both, or separate boot partitions?  How will mkinitcpio handle a kernel upgrade -- will it get confused in making the changes to grub.cfg?  Any suggestions would be welcome.

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#2 2013-10-30 03:34:45

Scimmia
Bug Wrangler
Registered: 2012-09-01
Posts: 5,356

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

You would need separate boot partitions, or just keep /boot on the root partitions. When one updated the kernel, the modules would still be old on the other installation and you'd run into problems if they shared a boot partition.

The only other problem I can think of would be forgetting about the secondary installation. Arch does not like to be neglected, so if you forgot about it for 6+ months and didn't update it, you may get into a situation where it won't be updatable anymore.

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#3 2013-10-30 06:00:18

x33a
Forum Moderator
Registered: 2009-08-15
Posts: 3,550
Website

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

Scimmia wrote:

The only other problem I can think of would be forgetting about the secondary installation. Arch does not like to be neglected, so if you forgot about it for 6+ months and didn't update it, you may get into a situation where it won't be updatable anymore.

+1. Also, maintaining two Arch systems (on the same machine) will be a chore.

A better option would be to use btrfs, and use the snapshotting capability to roll back problematic updates.

Search the forums and the wiki for hints and instructions. Also, WonderWoofy might be able to help you out with btrfs problems. I don't use btrfs myself.

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#4 2013-10-31 00:58:43

ghborrmann
Member
Registered: 2012-05-01
Posts: 9

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

x33a wrote:
Scimmia wrote:

The only other problem I can think of would be forgetting about the secondary installation. Arch does not like to be neglected, so if you forgot about it for 6+ months and didn't update it, you may get into a situation where it won't be updatable anymore.

+1. Also, maintaining two Arch systems (on the same machine) will be a chore.

That may be a problem,, but I think I'll try experimenting with a dual Arch system to see how it goes.  I expect I will have to write some scripts to handle some of the work required, but I'm not expecting it to be too much for me.  I plan to upgrade the secondary system on the average every two or three weeks.

x33a wrote:

A better option would be to use btrfs, and use the snapshotting capability to roll back problematic updates.

That sounded promising, but after researching btrfs I've concluded that btrfs is too different for me at this time.  I do intend to look into it further in the future, though.

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#5 2013-10-31 08:47:06

graysky
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From: The worse toilet in Scotland
Registered: 2008-12-01
Posts: 8,824
Website

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

Dual or more linux distros on the same hdd is trivial.  Do not use separate boot partitions for them as suggested above.  You can either manually manage your boot loader or using something like so-prober with grub.


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#6 2013-10-31 19:00:42

yanom
Member
Registered: 2013-06-30
Posts: 27

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

The thought occurred to me, why not make the second system also Arch Linux?  That way, one system could be upgraded keeping the other system usable until the upgraded system proved stable.

you could do what I do, which is to have both the normal and "stable" kernels installed (stable is package 'linux-lts', normal is package 'linux'. Then, you add two options in the bootloader ( i use syslinux ) to boot either stable kernel or normal kernel, both loading the same partition.

This solution I came up with to cope with hardware support breakage, which was caused by kernel updates. IDK if this could have coped with the systemd fiasco, but that's behind us now.

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#7 2013-10-31 19:21:26

alphaniner
Member
From: Ancapistan
Registered: 2010-07-12
Posts: 2,779

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

I have two arch installs with shared /boot on my home and work machines, and use a script when updating them. One is 'minimal' (command line only) though. I had some specific reasons for doing this in the beginning, but now having the minimal install around is largely a 'comfort blanket'.


But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.
-Lysander Spooner

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#8 2013-10-31 21:31:45

Morrad
Member
From: Washington State, USA
Registered: 2012-01-18
Posts: 54
Website

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

alphaniner wrote:

I have two arch installs with shared /boot on my home and work machines, and use a script when updating them. One is 'minimal' (command line only) though. I had some specific reasons for doing this in the beginning, but now having the minimal install around is largely a 'comfort blanket'.

Is there advantage in doing this over simply having two boot entries specifying different run levels (or systemd targets now, I suppose)?

Last edited by Morrad (2013-10-31 21:32:13)


To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass if half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

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#9 2013-10-31 21:36:23

2ManyDogs
Member
Registered: 2012-01-15
Posts: 1,760

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

How is any of this better than just keeping a live stick around which can be used to chroot into the broken install and fix it? If I was going to keep a second install for this purpose, I'd use something that never breaks, like Debian stable -- not a second Arch that might break as often as my primary install (which never breaks, because I read the news).

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#10 2013-10-31 21:49:34

nourathar
Member
Registered: 2013-04-26
Posts: 73

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

on my laptop I have two arch installs, one a more or less 'clean' system I update less frequently, one a more messy system with more packages installed. For me that works, but also because I use my 'clean' system mainly for one thing I don''t want to risk breaking; email and office-type stuff I do with the other install.

Maintaining these installs  on two partitions is rather trivial; the only time I had problems with grub is when I made a mistake myself, but that only screwed up grub, not any of the two installs.

In my case it still makes sense to do this, but it is also true that it is not a good idea to not update the 'clean' system for too long, so in the end I am not sure I have prevented any disasters by doing this, since the systems are not much different. When I started doing this it made perhaps a bit more sense, because i was using i3 on the 'clean' system and KDE on the 'daily use' system, so there was a definite difference in performance. But now I am a i3 user on all my Arch installs, so that difference has gone....

so in short:
it is easy to do, but as a guard against breakage, I am not sure it makes any sense.
(and in the year or so that I am an Arch user, I've had very little things break, to be honest....)


ciao,

J.

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#11 2013-11-01 09:26:50

kriz
Member
Registered: 2009-06-29
Posts: 96

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

i'm also dualbooting arch, but with only 1 to maintain. I make a mirror copy of my working enviroment once a while linked to the same home partition. only fstab needs to be set up correctly.
pros for me:
I got the exact same enviroment i'm used to
i' don't have to repair my "primary linux" right away if i dont't feel like playing linux or got no time
restricted user stuff is persistent
if sth. could be expected to break the system i'd rather first tryout in the mirrored linux and break that one.
whole system is backed up

Last edited by kriz (2013-11-01 09:29:38)


„Je verdinglichter die Welt, je dichter das Netz, das der Natur überworfen wurde, desto mehr beansprucht ideologisch das Denken, das jenes Netz spinnt, seinerseits Natur, Urerfahrung zu sein." Theodor W. Adorno [aus: Wozu noch Philosopie]

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#12 2013-11-01 11:36:46

Mektub
Member
From: Lisbon /Portugal
Registered: 2008-01-02
Posts: 647

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

kriz wrote:

i'm also dualbooting arch, but with only 1 to maintain. I make a mirror copy of my working enviroment once a while linked to the same home partition. only fstab needs to be set up correctly.
pros for me:
I got the exact same enviroment i'm used to
i' don't have to repair my "primary linux" right away if i dont't feel like playing linux or got no time
restricted user stuff is persistent
if sth. could be expected to break the system i'd rather first tryout in the mirrored linux and break that one.
whole system is backed up

Exactly my method. My backup script looks like so:

      MOUNTPOINT="/backup"
      mount $MOUNTPOINT                  2> /dev/null
      UMOUNT=$?

      [ $UMOUNT -ne 0 -a $UMOUNT -ne 32 ] && { echo "Failed to mount $MOUNTPOINT"; exit 1; }
      [ $UMOUNT -eq 32 ] && echo "$MOUNTPOINT already mounted"

      rsync -av --delete --delete-excluded                                                                   \       
                --exclude="/backup/"                                                                                \                                        
                --exclude="/lost+found/**"            --exclude="/proc/**"                  \
                --exclude="/sys/**"                         --exclude="/run/**"                     \
                                                                                                                                         \
                /   $MOUNTPOINT

      cd $MOUNTPOINT/etc
      cp fstab fstab.ORI
      /bin/cp fstab.disk2 fstab
      cd /

      [ "$UMOUNT" -eq 0 ] && umount $MOUNTPOINT

As  kriz said, fstab must be adjusted.

Just my 2 cents, now I  am broke.

Mektub


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#13 2013-11-01 14:23:28

alphaniner
Member
From: Ancapistan
Registered: 2010-07-12
Posts: 2,779

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

Morrad wrote:

Is there advantage in doing this over simply having two boot entries specifying different run levels (or systemd targets now, I suppose)?

Re the 'specific reasons' two separate installs were necessary.

2ManyDogs wrote:

How is any of this better than...

I used to use a customized SysRescCD, but prefer being able to easily modify the secondary install. And I use Arch because I know Arch best.


But whether the Constitution really be one thing, or another, this much is certain - that it has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist.
-Lysander Spooner

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#14 2013-11-01 16:38:01

nomorewindows
Member
Registered: 2010-04-03
Posts: 3,040

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

I just have PXE/diskless client setup available on main system for anything that might go down.  It is dual systems, yes, but practically I could run several machines off of one PXE installations ready to go.


I may have to CONSOLE you about your usage of ridiculously easy graphical interfaces...
Look ma, no mouse.

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#15 2013-11-03 07:11:44

Haikarainen
Member
Registered: 2012-09-04
Posts: 93

Re: Dual booting: Arch with Arch?

Unless you actually enjoy hacking/tinkering with problems in Arch, I'd just suggest you go with Fedora/Ubuntu/Debian instead. Those are way more stable distributions, and all three of them are of course a thousand times more usable than Windows 98.

Dualbooting Arch with Arch for a failsafe option seems pretty much of a hassle to be worth it IMHO, I'd just install a stable distribution. May I ask what makes you still use Windows 98? Have you always just used it and never upgraded?

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