• Important: We recently upgraded our forum software - please let us know if you run into any issues.

Migrating from Ubuntu

Dimitris

New Member
Greetings!

As title suggests, I am using Ubuntu (which I have been using for about 3 months now) and want to move to Arch. However, I do not have a spare machine to experiment on and I'm using my laptop for work, so I'd like not to purge everything and just try my luck. Thus, I thought I should dual-boot and take my time configuring everything (failing/restarting/learning on the way) before considering "dropping" Ubuntu and fully moving to Arch.

I tried checking the archlinux documentations but in my newbie eyes I felt uncertain in how to go about it so I thought I'd post. Any ideas how to achieve the dual boot and then "drop" Ubuntu?

Thanks,
D.
 


atanere

Moderator
Gold Supporter
Hi @Dimitris, and welcome to the site! Being a new user, I would always advise extreme caution, especially since your computer is important for your work. You don't want a mistake to happen... but they do sometimes when dealing with installing or modifying operating systems.

But we can at least sound out some possibilities for you to consider, and some with less risk of mistakes. One of the first things to determine is if your laptop has an older legacy BIOS (motherboard firmware) or if it has the newer UEFI firmware. I think Arch is capable of UEFI installation, but UEFI is more tricky. Also, I am not familiar with Arch at all, except with a few brief attempts where I realized that it is typically more difficult to install and setup than other distros. Would you possibly consider an Arch derivative instead, such as Manjaro, Anarchy, Antergos, Bluestar, or other? These derivatives are often much more user-friendly than the basic Arch Linux.

Also, rather than dual-booting, you would be safer to at least try to use Arch (or a derivative) in a virtual machine in Ubuntu if you have a fair amount of RAM. There are several applications, such as VirtualBox, that will let you create a virtual machine, or more than one if you want to try more. Each virtual machine would need about 20 GB of hard drive space.

Another safe way is boot Arch (or a derivative) in "live mode" on either a DVD or USB flash drive. I'm not sure if Arch allows this, but some or all of the derivatives will. Running an operating system off of DVD or USB is slower than a virtual machine or than a full hard drive install, but the safety is that it will not make any changes to your system (or break anything)... and it will let you test whether the distro is compatible with your laptop hardware... to make sure that your sound and wireless network is working.

Spending some time testing with these safer methods can help you narrow down which distro you really want to install when you are ready to take the plunge and erase Ubuntu. Of course, at that point, you will also need to back up anything that you need to save before doing a fresh new installation. If you happened to create a separate /home partition when you installed Ubuntu, this might be used in your new system too, but people often do not make this separate partition so a backup would be necessary in that case.

I have recently tried out Manjaro and Anarchy in virtual machines, and both are very fine Arch-based distros. I've recently read some good things about Bluestar Linux, and I'll be testing it out soon also. I have some spare computers that I can install Ubuntu and then also setup a dual-boot to try to help determine if I can foresee any problems that you might have, but this is still not perfect and while it may work for me, it may not spot troubles that you might still encounter.

So, some things for you to think about now. Let us know a little more and we will try to help get you going.

Cheers
 

Dimitris

New Member
Well met!

• In regards to UEFI: No idea, I should definitely read up and I'll check when I'm back on my machine.
• I actually want to learn, so the fact that the environment may prove kinda hostile doesn't bother me that much, in the sense that I'd like to learn to get by.
• I actually tried VirtualBox (gave it 20GBs indeed, I believe). I went through the installation and setup a basic GUI. The system seems to be warning me about a kernel peculiarity happening and I'm unsure what's up. I have concluded that from that point forward there is not much gained in testing if I don't opt for an actual installation, tackling actual issues. Networking was fine (I believe it's treated as if you have a wired connection), I will test sound but I would assume it's ok.
• Ah, live mode sounds familiar. I will look that up, would it be more enlightening than VB in some way?
• My data doesn't worry me cause most things are on cloud and I would mostly avoid my other configurations, since I tinkered too much with them and a fresh start is definitely preferable at this point.
• Will certainly check Bluestar and the others. As I already mentioned however, I want this to be kind of a learning experience as well so I might welcome the hassle. Maybe I'll be scared off, we'll see!

I will try studying the documentation again and possibly going with the live thingie. I hope I explained a bit better, will add about UEFI later (after I've read about it a little as well!)

Cheers,
D.
 

atanere

Moderator
Gold Supporter
Well met!
The pleasure is mine!

OK, I'm glad that the "safety" issue is not as critical as I thought (to protect your work data). "Learning-by-doing" is one of the best methods to learn, but the downside is that "experience-by-disaster" is sometimes the best teacher! :eek::D We always hope to avoid those disasters, but if you're prepared for the worst then it can give you a lot of confidence as you go along.

UEFI: A possibly easy way to tell is if your computer came pre-installed with Windows 8, 8.1, or 10... then it is UEFI for sure. If it came pre-installed with Windows 7, it could be either BIOS or UEFI. Windows 7 computers that were advertised as "Windows 8 Ready" were also UEFI. If you built your own computer (not too common with laptops) or if you bought a computer with no Windows installed, then you might have to investigate. Modern motherboard manufacturers often still call this firmware BIOS, and there is usually some F-key combination for you to get into "Setup" (the BIOS setup). In the Setup there are some telltale signs if it is UEFI, such as the Boot section will show options to enable/disable "Secure Boot" which was a Microsoft requirement beginning with Windows 8.

Since blank DVD's are not too expensive, the "live DVD" method is a good way to test out 2 or 3 (or more) of the distros that interest you. But since it runs so slow that way, you may want to just evaluate enough to know which you want to install and then get prepared for the dual-boot setup as you said originally. But keep any DVD's that you make as they are also great troubleshooting or repair tools (or, in case of disaster, if you have to re-install later).

I installed Bluestar Linux in a virtual machine awhile ago, and it is quite impressive. It uses the KDE desktop, but it is unlike any other implementation of KDE that I have ever seen before. It is very different, and not a "traditional" desktop. Some folks like "different" (maybe "modern" is a good description?)... but some folks like traditional better. But that is part of the process of testing with DVD's... you can see if that appeals to you or not. By the way, if you do try Bluestar in "live mode"... and if you find yourself in a spot where it asks for the root password (such as to unlock the screen if you let it go to sleep)... the password is user. Manjaro and Anarchy are a little more on the traditional side, but still very nice and polished.

So, I guess you'll be experimenting for a bit, but just ask if you have any questions. As I said before, I will try to set up a dual boot ahead of you, if you want, to see if I can spot any troubles first, and maybe save you from disaster. With just two operating systems (Ubuntu and another), I think you'll be okay. With older legacy BIOS systems, though, there is a limit of 4 primary partitions... enough for 2 OS's comfortably. UEFI systems do not have that limitation, so you can have quite a few OS's all on the same hard drive (until you fill it up). Our friend @wizardfromoz has over 30 Linux distros installed on a single hard drive (repeating this trick for a total of 2 computers like this)... but that is a little too much for us mortal men. :D

Cheers
 

wizardfromoz

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
I have archlinux-2018.03.01-x86_64.iso downloaded, but have not yet burned to stick to try. Probably get the time next weekend if it is still on the table then as an option for the OP. I still have a day's driving of 600km ahead of me before I am back from our road trip, then a day or two R&R to recover.

(Wizard appears in a puff of smoke, the faint-hearted scatter holding their breath)

Hi @Dimitris and welcome to linux.org.

For the most part I concur with Stan (@atanere ), which is often the case.

If you are not afraid to get your hands dirty, and given your 3 months' experience with the 'buntu (which one are you using - 16.04 Unity, or 17.10 MATE or GNOME?), then Arch might be an interesting challenge. As I understand it, it is very much a DIY Distro, and the User has an integral involvement in determining the outcomes of the final product, in terms of look and feel, content &c.

Of the Arch-based Distros, some of which Stan mentioned, I currently run

  • Manjaro
  • SwagArch
  • Antergos
  • Netrunner2018 and
  • Sonar (for the visually challenged)
I've also run Bluestar and may put it back on, and I have Anarchy on a stick but yet to install.

Cheers

Chris Turner
wizardfromoz
 

Dimitris

New Member
Small update: Network + Sound are working normally with Arch and Swag Arch on VB (I loved how SwagArch starts with duck duck go as default search on firefox). I am having an issue determining the UEFI thing. I can't remember if the machine had win 7 or win 10 yet I still got it second-hand. I believe it was win7 though, and every way to check I read led to the same conclusion.

I am impressed by Anarchy. It's Xfce. I'm interested to try the CLI version and install LX-QT...
Oh are there seperate installations with and without preset gui?
 
Last edited:

atanere

Moderator
Gold Supporter
Oh are there seperate installations with and without preset gui?
Yes, some of them offer minimal install .iso files so that you can build up the system from scratch... basically, that is "the Arch way."

Glad you're having hardware success so far. Tell us the brand and exact model number of the computer and we can probably find out if it is UEFI or legacy BIOS.

Cheers
 

atanere

Moderator
Gold Supporter
Here's another way to check UEFI versus BIOS: Open a terminal in your installed Ubuntu and give this command
Code:
sudo ls /sys/firmware/efi/efivars
If the directory does not exist, then it is BIOS and not UEFI (or it is configured as BIOS/CSM). Thanks to the Arch Installation Guide for that info! :D

Cheers
 

Dimitris

New Member
Code:
sudo ls /sys/firmware/efi/efivars
I actually bumped upon this myself and I thought I was golden (though not in Archwiki). Then I ran a search and actually found many efi dirs here and there in my filesystem (ran a find from root dir and chilled while my pc was in anguish searching). I guess that it doesn't matter, if that particular dir doesn't exist I can be pretty sure. In the Archwiki I trust.
 

wizardfromoz

Super Moderator
Staff member
Gold Supporter
Hi all, back from my road trip :p

I am impressed by Anarchy.
We have roving mariner @CptCharis to thank for that one, he featured it in his thread on VMs ;)

Oh are there seperate installations with and without preset gui?
No, but you can add/replace your existing setup with LXQt if you wish to try it.

Since you favour Archwiki, then you can read about it here - https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/LXQt ... be aware that Arch make a lot of assumptions that Users really know what they are doing. If you have more questions arising from this link than answers provided, Stan is probably best to ask whether it is better to start a new thread dealing with that issue.

Also on installation, a Google search under "linux lxqt install arch" is enlightening, and includes a couple of videos. DuckDuckGo is renowned for having answers slightly more Linux-friendly than other search engines (I just wish their pages were not so long).

I also have a link I use for DEs (Desktop Environments) which is https://renewablepcs.wordpress.com/about-linux/kde-gnome-or-xfce/ - although it is somewhat dated, it can give you an idea of what to expect from different ones you may wish to try. Currently Cinnamon (developed by Linux Mint but used with a number of others) is likely the heaviest, and Xfce and/or LXQt the lightest.

If you wish to save your Ubuntu (if not blown away already) and have space on your HDD for another partition (or even better, external storage), then Timeshift is your best bet, and you can read my Tute here - https://www.linux.org/threads/timeshift-similar-solutions-safeguard-recover-your-linux.15241/

Cheers
Wizard
BTW - love your avatar - I went to see the Pink Floyd concert in Brisbane in 1988 ... awesome :D
 

Members online


Top