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I would like to buy a new computer for my old home server, so the only things that remain are the HDDs.

I know that under WinXP you can't do this, because the HAL will have problems and it'll probably BSOD at boot.

I have been told that I should boot the new computer with a LiveCD, mount the root filesystem, and do update-initramfs, and after that do a grub-update, or something like that.

Are there any other things that should be done? I'm particularly interested in RAID, I have two RAID1 volumes, managed by mdadm, will those work fine, or do I have to reassemble them in some way?

Also, are there tools for generating the /etc/fstab file? Like, I mount all my partitions to the same way as they were on the old system, and now I want to take a "snapshot" of the currently mounted volumes and write to fstab.

Can someone please walk me through this procedure step-by-step?

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migrated from Aug 25 '09 at 10:32

This question came from our site for system and network administrators.

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I've done radical H/W changes under Ubuntu- for example, switching from Intel/Intel to AMD/nVidia CPU & Chipset, and had it just boot up and work. However,

  1. I had already changed /etc/fstab to use /dev/sd* instead of auto-generated numbers (just BECAUSE), and
  2. I had no RAID of any kind, and
  3. I had an image backup "just in case".

If you can sort out your RAID & /etc/fstab, I think the universal nature of the Ubuntu kernel will take care of the rest.

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kmarsh is right on. One important thing to consider is that if you change the RAID controller, the new one will probably not recognize your RAID volumes. You will definitely want to back your data up. A great utility to clone your drives is clonezilla. I've used it and had great success in backing up internal HDDs to a USB drive.

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-1 because he specifically says he uses mdadm, which is software raid, not a hardware raid controller. – davr Aug 24 '09 at 23:20
Doh! I'm aware that mdadm is software RAID. Unfortunately it escaped my attention that he mentioned he was using it. – Sean Staats Aug 25 '09 at 13:16

The main thing is the disk controller drivers in the initrd. If you can work out what modules are required, add them to /etc/initramfs-tools/modules, run update-initramfs -kall -u before moving the hard drives to the new computer and it should just work (tm). To work out what modules are required, boot a Live CD (or USB) and run lsmod|grep ata and look for ones like sata_via or pata_sis that match the chipset on your motherboard. Or, if it has a BIOS option to use AHCI, use the ahci module as it'll perform better.

RAID and fstab: RAID should be fine, as by default all partitions will be scanned for the MD signature, and Ubuntu has been using UUIDs in fstab for ages.

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RAID should probably be fine, modern Linux distros set up RAID in such a way that it gets auto-detected on boot, so that even if you swapped your disks around to different ports inside the machine it should still work fine.

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