HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

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Dirkoir
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HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

Post by Dirkoir »

Hello, gurus:

I'm thinking about making a clone of my Linux Mint installation to hopefully use as both a restorable backup AND an alternative drive to boot from).

The system: I have a LM 17 (Quiana) dual boot with Windows 8.1. Besides EFI, Grub or whatever hidden stuff, I have these LM partitions: swap, /, home, data

The background story: My optical drive recently broke. LM 17.2 Rafaela came out at the same time. Update Manager seems to be unwilling to provide safety updates (which I need) unless it gets to upgrade to Rafaela first. The latter I am most reluctant to permit without first having a fast way back to functionality if that update makes my system inoperable or breaks it's all important WIFI ability (my WIFI card was troublesome to get to work originally as it is not supported by all kernels or Mint versions). Also, my system has been much tweaked since it's installation. That's a ton of work I'd rather not have to remember, retrace, and redo.

So... I'd like to clone my much customized LM 17 Quiana onto a separate hard drive for restorable backup and alternative boot before I dare to do that upgrade. The Windows partitions I'd rather not clone.

1.) Am I correct in thinking the next upgrade in Update Manager (single item called mint-update-info) will attempt an upgrade to Rafaela?
2.) Can I clone the active LM 17 system while I am running on it? (remember: no optical drive ==> no boot from a Live DVD)
3.) Related question: Can I do a test install of LM 17.2 Rafaela on an external HD without a Live DVD?

Thanks for any tips. :-)
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Linux Mint 17 Qiana Cinnamon 64-bit

Cosmo.
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Re: HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

Post by Cosmo. »

#1: mint-update-info is a part of the update manager. Therefor you must install this update, before you can update anything else with the update manager. It does not upgrade to Rafaela, but it provides the possibility to upgrade. In any case the upgrade gets only done by your will via edit-menu.

#2: You can make a backup of the partitions of the running system with qt4-fasarchiver. Then you could create new partitions with this backup, again running the program from inside your current system. But be noted, that the target partitions must have at least the size of the source partitions, so you need much free space. Also note - and this is critical(!) - that you have to check after creating the cloned partitions, that they have different UUIDs than the source partitions, otherwise you might get in trouble on the next boot. You can check and change the UUID with gparted.
For qt4-fsarchiver you need this PPA: ppa:dieterbaum/qt4-fsarchiver.

#3: Perhaps an easier approach: Install VirtualBox and install LM 17.2 inside a virtual machine.

Regarding the background story: As written in #1 you have compulsory to install this packet, but do not need to upgrade to Rafaela for getting other updates.

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Reorx
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Re: HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

Post by Reorx »

To clone the whole HD to an external HD, I would use Clonezilla (http://clonezilla.org/). It will allow you to do a disk to disk clone. I would clone the whole HD (Windoze included). If you decide that you don't want or need the Win partition, you can always delete it later. If you DO delete the Win partition, the GRUB menu will have a non-functioning menu selection (Windoze). If you want to fix this you can boot the HD and update GRUB...

I know that your optical drive has moved on to the great beyond but I assume your BIOS has the ability to boot your computer from a USB stick - is that correct? If so, you will need 3 USB ports to accomplish the cloning operation I have described. 1 port for the bootable Clonezilla USB stick and 2 ports to power and connect the external external USB HD that will be the destination for the clone.

You can (should) not clone mounted partitions - this is why you boot Clonezilla from a Live USB stick which will not mount any partitions on the HD when it boots.

In terms of upgrading LM17 to LM17.2 - that is a preference thing. On production machines, I think of most of the differences as cosmetic conveniences but non-essential... that is why I am running LM17 on all of my production machines. I have an experimental laptop that dual boots LM17.2 and LMDE2 - I like both but I am really interested in LMDE2 - it updates the DE as well as everything else when it does updates. The LM17.2 on my experimental machine started its life as LM17 (Qiana) and it has been upgraded to LM17.1 and then LM17.2. Both of those upgrades worked flawlessly.
Full time Linux Mint user since 2011 - Currently running LM19 Cinnamon.

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Dirkoir
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Re: HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

Post by Dirkoir »

Thanks for the replies, Cosmo and Reorx. I am back into this fight after moving to a new job, town, country, and continent (perhaps even planet? It sure feels like it). I have bought an external optical drive and a 1TB external hard drive to become more functional again and get some backing up going.

Questions:
  1. You disagree with each other on whether cloning from an active drive is possible, or am I missing a nuance?
  2. After cloning with Clonezilla to an eternal drive double the size of the internal, is it trivial to place a new partition on the residual free space? I would use that as an extra storage partition for data which isn't often needed (to move those rarely needed data files from the daily data partition and thus make room on the internal drive).
  3. How do I align the copy of data partition and the clone of the system from time to time? Would that be a job for qt4-fasarchiver or Grsync or such?
Thanks for any further ideas. :)


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Cosmo.
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Re: HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

Post by Cosmo. »

#1: With qt4-fsarchiver you can do an image of the active partition; I don't know, if this is doable with Clonezilla I don't know (I don't use it).

#2: I do not understand, what you want to do.

#3: If you mean, if an image can be updated with adding only new and changed files: No, not possible. You have to create a new image (and probably delete the previous one). Here is IMO the advantage of qt4-fsarchiver with the possibility to create an image out of the running system. You can e.g. do this during lunch break without interrupting your working session.

Dyfi
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Re: HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

Post by Dyfi »

Just bear in mind that qt4-fsarchiver runs at file level and not partition level. So the result is not an image file as the Clonezilla result would be. It will satisfactorily back up a running system as already stated.

Dirkoir
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Re: HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

Post by Dirkoir »

Thanks for the responses. This forum has great people. And my apologies if I was less than clear. Sadly, gone are the days when all this was plain and simple. Nowadays, confusion over vocabulary instantly appears when I attempt to converse about this topic. I am not surprised if it has happened again. All those words and choices like backup, copy, clone, image... I'll try rephrasing my need:

I would guess that an "image" (some kind of archive?) is not what I am looking for. I would like
(A) my backup to be bootable (hence my use of the word "clone", an identical and working copy, not an archive and not a mere data folder backup),
(B) for the residual space on the larger drive to be usable as an extra data partition, and
(C) to be able to update the clone now and then -- which is to say copy new files over and ideally even delete files which have been deleted from the source -- with a piece of file managing software which compares source and destination, copies over only missing and newer files and ideally deletes those from the target which are not found on the source. Oh, and since this is Linux, file permissions should also be preserved (unlike what Nero does, *peer Nero*). It's this task especially where I thought of Grsync.

Over a year ago, I vaguely remember having made a root partition clone on another machine... with Clonezilla (or could Parted have done it?) from one partition to another to experiment with kernel updates on a copy rather than the original. I did get an actual working clone then, not an archive, and could boot from either the original or its kernel-updated clone. My thoughts about my current task go in a similar direction, only this time we are not merely talking about a single partition (back then it was only the the root partition which needed cloning while the rest of the disk structure remained in place and I only needed to update the GRUB menu) and there is also the added issue of updating the clone without recreating it from scratch each time since half a terabyte is a lot of data. :wink:

Ideas, thoughts, ... scoldings? :)
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Cosmo.
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Re: HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

Post by Cosmo. »

What you described with A) would only be doable with a clone. But using it in the way you seem to imagine does make several additional steps necessary and this would be easily confusing for a beginner (e.g. changing the UUID of the clone, update grub). For C) there are again some steps necessary, nothing a software (to my knowledge) can do out of the box.

I suggest you rethink your concept for a back-up. What you plan sounds merely like 2 synchronized systems.

Dirkoir
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Re: HD to HD clone, restore, install (no optical drive)

Post by Dirkoir »

Yeah! Two synchronized systems is what I'd like. :) A backup which doesn't just sit there like a dead weight but can actually be put to work when needed. :-) We may have found the vocabulary. :-)

And don't worry about UUID changes (though it would be nice if Clonezilla did that automatically upon request - doesn't it?) and updating Grub or fstab. I've done those before, after all, and can learn to do them again (I wonder if I used grub-customizer). I may be new to Linux but not new to computers. I am frankly more worried about picking the wrong options in Grsync's somewhat cryptic interface (Grsync being the tool which might do the syncing perhaps... unless it won't delete files the source has missing ("Delete on Destination" would seem to do it)). I wonder how Clonezilla would behave if I told it to clone the whole internal HD onto the external drive which has double the capacity. Would it simply keep the partitions the same size, so I could later add a data partition in Gparted/Parted? Would it clone GRUB's partition (MBR?) and similar arcane partitions faithfully so all I'd have to do would be tweaking the UUIDs, GRUB, and /fstab?

:)
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