Well, unfortunately, the last two days have been not so fun. It was supposed to be a nice 4-day weekend...and it should have started off with an estimated "3 hour-tour" of cloning my current Ubuntu 9.10 workstation and moving it on to another hard drive on a personal computer where I could boot it. This way, I could continue to work on all my projects without having to setup my entire environment again, not to mention all the databases I would need to export and re-import, files to transfer, application settings to set, etc. ad nauseum.

So, what was my first course of action? Well, naturally, given my previous lines of work, and previous boneheaded mistakes, I first made a bare bones backup of my existing drive onto an external hard usb drive using dd. Fortunately, had written a nice blog post on how to do that.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get the computer to boot off this clone, nor could I get it to load in a Windows install (though diskmgr could see it). "Primary disk not found, hit F1 to continue..." This was to be expected though, but I knew at the least I could see my data and access it from another linux machine. So, now the issue at hand was how to make a true clone of the drive.

In the past, when one wanted to clone hard drives, and one was not a technical wizard, there was only one natural solution: Norton Ghost. As much as I despise Norton now, back in the 90s they made some good stuff, such as Ghost. Nowadays though, one would go about using Clonezilla. However, I had a problem. Clonezilla expected that you had a drive of equal or greater size to clone to, and I did not. The source drive in the laptop being 160GB and my biggest destination drive being 80GB.

Ok, so how to get around this. Well, dd copies all the way through the drive, so no dice there. I scrummaged up some more old drives, but they were 83GB, 80GB, 30GB, and 20GB respectively. So, now what. Well, I was only using 70GB off the 160GB anyways, perhaps there was a way. Indeed, with gparted (sudo apt-get install gparted or use an Ubuntu liveCD which will have it under system -> administration) I was able to resize the drive down to 76GB. Unfortunately, at some point, it somehow got overfull and I was unable to login to the source drive. No matter, I though, as long as I have the copy.

I pulled open the destination desktop computer and popped in the new drive. Primary disk not found, Hit F1 to continue. Well, that's no good... Ok well just pop original drive back in and go google around a bit, but wait original drive wasn't loading either now. WTF? Things were beginning to look like how these scenarios typically turn out. The sharks remained at bay though. So, what to do, well curse and yell a bit, that helps. Then, I went back, googled around, and realized the login problem on the original source drive was that I just needed to clear up some space. Deleted some uneeded files, and bam back in business on that one. Now, to tackle the new destination drive. I got out my live CD and tried to boot it up. No dice. Seemed both the hard drive and CD-rom had gotten confused. Even calling up the boot menu and requesting CD to boot first was unsatisfying.

Ahh, but I did not know that Dell requires a little magician's trick to actually get new drives recognized. I mean, you know, you wouldn't want this to be too easy right? First, on bootup, hit F2 or whatever other hot key takes you into the BIOS setup. Then hit ALT+F, ALT+E, ALT+B. Voila, the system will reboot and a message will let you know the IDE drives are being reconfigured. I can haz lolcats now? No, no I cannot. However, I had at least upgraded to operating system not found (well without the girlfriend part).

So, I popped my live CD back in and spent a few more hours fiddling around with grub until I realized that what I should have been doing was googling. I mean that was a better strategy than arguing with someone in the #ubuntu channel that yes, grub was not suggesting hard disk numbers using a simple "root (hd". I mean, you need a screenshot or what, and why the hell do I have to refer to drives as (hdx,y) syntax anyways if I can't even list the drives to know what the syntax is supposed to be...but I digress. A couple of well crafted queries and I arrived at http://www.supergrubdisk.org/ . A quick download of the Grub2 super disk and equally burn, then I am able to pop that CD in and have sweet loading goodness. I choose the top option to detect operating systems, and BAM, I am loaded into my cloned partition. Now, the changes weren't saving, but a quick "sudo apt-get install grub-pc" and my grub tables were rebuilt, and BAM, back in business. I tried to donate to these guys that created this wonderful resource, but unfortunately they only accept Paypal. Bleh.

So, what's the lesson here? Is there one? Yes. When deciding on a laptop to buy, if your work depends on your laptop, buy 2 identical ones, or at least an identical extra hard drive! Insane, yes? But who's insane when I'm up and running after lolcats destroy my first laptop? Ideally, the two would constantly replicate data back and forth, perhaps using rsync. Oh, and replicate data into the cloud as well, cause the cloud's cool, and you never know if I will have to use both laptops to defend against flying bullets and lolcat attacks. Oh, Chrome OS laptop, I long for the day....


I live my Ubuntu machines,

I live my Ubuntu machines, but this type of thing is why my machine is a Mac. Disk cloning is easy and works. I restored an image that had been used for several years to a new Mac during my computer woes last year (bad logic board). You can also boot most Mac cloned images from ANY Mac. Glad you are up and running. We have all been there.

Also, I enjoy your blog. Thanks!

Well you may enjoy knowing

Well you may enjoy knowing that my new job at Kiva will have me start working on a Mac now. Cheers, thanks for the comments.

were you keeping this a secret?

-- and you didn't even admit this to me after stoping back in the office!

Hah, well it remains to be

Hah, well it remains to be seen if the Mac and I will get along properly. It's like going a first date with a girl and then telling your parents about her. Wanna give it a few months before knowing it's a sure thing. ;)

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