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Old 06-22-2010, 03:31 PM   #1
wingman358
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Mitigating damage caused by alphas


I would like to test alphas (of distros and packages), but without doing so from my everyday environment.

Obviously, frequent backups are essential for maintaining important files.

Apart from that, what other measures can I take to prevent catastrophic data loss?

Could a well-designed partition structure lower the chances of an alpha blowing up data on other partitions?
 
Old 06-22-2010, 03:48 PM   #2
brucehinrichs
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I run Archlinux, Slackware13.1-multilib, Debian Sid, and Sabayon on this laptop. I share a /data partition between all distros, my important stuff goes there (including a copy of any config files that I don't want to have to redo ).

That said, I have not had a catastrophic failure on any of these, but I'm ready if it happens.

FWIW, here's how my HD is laid out:
Code:
root@Frank2:/home/bruce# fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sda: 200.0 GB, 200049647616 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 24321 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x0007c950

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1               1         243     1951866   82  Linux swap / Solaris
/dev/sda2   *         244         304      489982+  83  Linux        #/boot (not using this partition currently)
/dev/sda3             305       10815    84429607+  83  Linux        #/data - mounted in each distro with an entry in the respective fstab
/dev/sda4           10816       24321   108486914    5  Extended
/dev/sda5           10816       14640    30724281   83  Linux        #Debian Sid
/dev/sda6           14641       16590    15663343+  83  Linux        #Arch
/dev/sda7           16591       18540    15663343+  83  Linux        #Slackware13.1-multilib
/dev/sda8           18541       20485    15623181   83  Linux        #Sabayon
/dev/sda9           20486       22430    15623181   83  Linux        #currently empty, used for any other distro I want to play with for a while ;)
/dev/sda10          22431       24321    15189426   83  Linux        #currently empty, plan to use for LinuxFromScratch
EDIT: I also use virtualbox a lot for test-driving, to decide if it's worth installing for while.
 
Old 06-22-2010, 04:15 PM   #3
tredegar
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I always install experimental software to its own partition.

That way if it makes a mess, no matter. Just install something "better" to your "experimental" partition.

HDD space is relatively cheap, and you only need a 10GB partition to test a new system.
 
Old 06-22-2010, 04:44 PM   #4
syg00
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You can't protect yourself by partitioning. This applies to all installs, not just alphas.
I've had GA releases trash the entire harddisk. Even installing into a virtual (a good option IMHO) doesn't help a lot. That masks any misbehaviour until you try it in the real world. Then you can get bit unexpectedly.
I keep an old machine for this testing. Rebuild is no concern on it.
 
Old 06-22-2010, 05:30 PM   #5
tredegar
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Quote:
You can't protect yourself by partitioning. ... [SNIP] ... I've had GA releases trash the entire harddisk.
Good point. This has not happened to me, but I can see that it might happen.

I have no experience of VMs. And they might behave differently when real.

Installing to an otherwise unused PC is the fail-safe answer.
 
Old 06-23-2010, 03:44 PM   #6
wingman358
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Firstly, thanks for all the replies

I agree that a physically separate machine is the best answer, but I am looking for methods of keep data safe specifically when no other machine is handy.

syg00: I'm not sure if I understand you correctly. Is installing an alpha to a VM a good method for keeping data on the HDD relatively safe?

Cheers!
 
Old 06-23-2010, 06:38 PM   #7
syg00
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Certainly - the guest (installer) generally only sees one single disk, /dev/sda which is actually just a disk file on the host. You can partition it however you like with no fear of trampling on your current environment. And you won't have the MBR on your (real) boot disk getting overwritten even when you tell the installer to install into the root partition or another disk altogether. This is a real problem these days as the devs try to make things "idiot proof" - I wonder where the idiots really are sometimes. Ubuntu forcing grub2 down everyones throats is a case in point.
You can have trouble with hardware - particularly video, but if it's merely a test that isn't generally too big of an issue. As I said, may not protect you when you finally install in the real world, but it's a good option.
 
Old 06-24-2010, 06:58 AM   #8
Hangdog42
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Why not use a virtual machine? If your current hardware can support it, it might do the trick. Besides, you can keep images of the VM and if something blows up, you can just revert to the earlier image.
 
Old 06-24-2010, 09:46 AM   #9
wingman358
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Seems to me like a virtual machine is the best option. Thanks all!
 
  


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