Ask the Experts: I want to build a new i7 X58-based system...

Question: I have an Intel 875P motherboard with 2 SATA drives in RAID 1 from the Intel BIOS. I want to build a new i7 X58-based system, but I don’t want to re-install and reconfigure the operating systems from scratch. What would be the best way to move my Linux and Windows (Dual-Boot) install? —Paul Grunwald, Senior Systems Architect, GE Fanuc Intelligent Platforms

Nick Danger responds: Paul— Given the change in architecture of the two systems, you really are better off reloading the two OSes and not just booting the old installations and hoping it adjusts to the new hardware.

That said, if you are sure you want to move over the installed OSes as they are, you can use an image tool such as PartImage or Clonezilla. Moving a RAIDed set of drives from one RAID controller to different controller is almost certain to fail. Although I have swapped drives from one controller to one of the same manufacture and model, changing hardware RAID chips can lead to corruption of the drive set. Your best option is to image the system to another storage device, set up your new system and then write the image onto the new hardware. You most likely will have to fiddle with the bootloader, but your partitions and data will be unaltered.

David Thomas of dthomasdigital responds: I'm guessing this is not what you want to hear, but I'm going to go ahead and figure you will be building from scratch. It has been my experience that switching motherboards means a fresh install. It's really your dual-boot with Windows that will cause most of your issues—it's that darn Windows registry. Linux, on the other hand, is much easier to deal with, but you still have to jump through hoops. If speed of install is your concern, it just might be faster to do a re-install. 875p and i7X58 are two very different chipsets, so to get the most out of your operating systems, you'll want the installs to be fresh.

Shawn Powers, Linux Journal Associate Editor responds: I realize this goes against the very nature of the question— but I'm still a proponent of the "reinstall" approach. And no, it's not just because I like to install Linux. Even if you can get everything moved over, it's likely you'll lose some optimization that a fresh install will get you. Heck, even the Bible says, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial." I'm not claiming reinstalling is the holy method, but it's the one I would pick for sure.

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Carlie Fairchild is the publisher of Linux Journal.


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Is this easy enough to do

Timothy Leveur's picture

Is this easy enough to do with clear instruction, or would I be best taking my computer somewhere? I don't really want to reinstall but I'm not really advanced enough with computer hardware in order to figure this out. I'm thinking of going to my local computer store, but aren't sure whether even they would be able to do this, as I'd need a specialist rather than a shop assistant! Is there anywhere online which might have a bit more detailed info on how to swap things over to my new pc?

Thanks for any help,
(Webmaster - fireplace designs ~ electric fireplaces)

The chances of Windows

Anonymous's picture

The chances of Windows booting up is higher this way, although Windows will do the whole setup process like a new install. - I agree

Couples Resorts

You may need to re-configure

Hotel Finder's picture

You may need to re-configure Alsa if you're using onboard sound and the new chipset doesn't use the hda-intel module

Be aware that Windows

Anonymous's picture

Be aware that Windows Install will load one of several kernal file sets depending upon various detected chipset and BIOS functions such as ACPI support , PAE, etc. This occurs at install and not after.

Give it a shot to move the Windows install, but don't be surprised that it is sub-optimal.

Not surprisingly, quality of

Slav Pidgorny's picture

Not surprisingly, quality of Windows advise in Linux Journal howto comments is suboptimal. Sysprep, huh? That, my friend, is as good as reinstallation of Windows. Sysprep is a deployment utility that resolves cloning issues and should not be used to migrate production systems - unless you're ready to lose stuff like accounts, encryption keys and domain integration.

Chris Smart gives decent advise on Linux side of the things. Windows part should be roughly the same as Linux - Linux also does "re-detect everything", so is equally ugly. In fact with more modern versions of W and L moving systems as hard disk images between hardware platforms is more or less smooth ride. And indeed RAID device will not destroy data if it doesn't recognise RAID format.

In this case, RADI1 can be easily split to single drives, so migration strategy is trivial: put a single drive, half of the miroor, to the new system. It will become a standard drive. You can add mirror later on.

What Architecture are you currently running?

Anonymous's picture

As Sean Powers already stated, if the answer is 32 bit, you may consider reinstalling based solely on this aspect.

I know that going from 32bit linux to 64 bit, at least on Athlon is more work than merely copying your /home, var data,etc.

Mondo Rescue can assist your in burning system images/backups of pertinant data, but if you have a spare drive laying around, I would just copy your data to that and back again.

On Windows, this is also the case, 32 bit Vista or xp or 2k3 vs. 64 bit requires more work to migrate than simply backing up your data (at the software level) reinstalling and copying said data back to drive.

Finally, you may want to try the new Ext4 Filesystem on a system that fast, it's supposed to be quite nice.

Basically, if you only have one system, it is less work, and more efficient to backup, reinstall and migrate your data.
This is quite simple with tar, rsync, and other Linux tools.

If it really is a raid 1 and

Anonymous's picture

If it really is a raid 1 and you want to see what moving over would do; Break the mirror set by removing the second disk and slide it over to the new system. Boot and watch. If it all goes south, move the drive back and let the mirror rebuild. No loss data with a raid 1. If it works and you are happy, move the 2nd drive over to the new box. You will lack a redundant disk during this test so don't do anything else risky.

WIndows kernals

Jim W.'s picture

Be aware that Windows Install will load one of several kernal file sets depending upon various detected chipset and BIOS functions such as ACPI support, PAE, etc. This occurs at install and not after.

Give it a shot to move the Windows install, but don't be surprised that it is sub-optimal.

Actually, Intel probably

Chris Smart's picture

Actually, Intel probably uses the same driver suite and Matrix Storage Manager for their new chipset as their old one, so if you install the latest driver with support for the X58 in Windows first, then it might re-detect everything successfully on first bootup. The main problem is support for the hard drive controller so that Windows can do that initial boot and then re-detect everything. Ugly though.

Linux on the other hand should just work out of the box assuming you haven't changed your video card (and the kernel has support for the new chipset, which it probably does), in which case you will most likely not notice any difference. It should just work.

In fact, you can even take a hard drive from an AMD box with a VIA chipset and stick it into a Core2 machine with an Intel chipset and it will just work (because Linux detects your hardware on every boot and most distros include all drivers by default). But:
* If you do change your video card, you will need to re-configure X and maybe install the required driver (switching to the vesa driver first may help this process).
* You may need to re-configure Alsa if you're using onboard sound and the new chipset doesn't use the hda-intel module.
* Hal sets up your network device based on the MAC address, which means your new device will become eth1 over eth0 (or whatever the next available device is). This is trivial to change - if you want to. Edit your udev persistent-network rule file somewhere under /etc/udev/rules.d (depending on your distro) and remove the previous eth0 entry and rename eth1 to eth0.

Under Debian this sits at /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules and an entry looks like this:
SUBSYSTEM=="net", ACTION=="add", DRIVERS=="?*", ATTR{address}=="00:1e:4f:a7:8f:d3", ATTR{type}=="1", KERNEL=="eth*", NAME="eth0"

Probably the biggest issue you'll have it getting the Intel RAID BIOS to detect your existing RAID1 array. Hardware controllers usually do this without much hassle, but I'm not sure about these pseudo-hardare controllers. If you can get it to work, then your PC may just boot. Then again you're using RAID1, which is just a mirror, so your computer may also boot an individual drive without the array configured in the BIOS - but you'll break your array which would need to be re-built.

If it were me I wouldn't be using the Intel BIOS RAID but Linux Software RAID - then again I wouldn't have Windows installed at all :-) Never-the-less, if I were you, I'd backup my data and re-install from scratch.


Disk cloning...

dwc's picture

Chances are it would be harder to move Windows than Linux to your new target system. One suggestion would be to make a full backup of all your data first, then use sysprep on your Windows installation. This will mean that you have all the drivers already available for your new hardware for Windows in your current installation. The chances of Windows booting up is higher this way, although Windows will do the whole setup process like a new install.

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