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Old 05-08-2021, 05:13 AM   #1
Mantra
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Dual boot and encryption


Long post I know, but help welcome! Sadly my old laptop (14 years old this year) is feeling a bit sluggish thanks to all these websites running pointless javascript, so I've decided to replace it with a mini-itx desktop, but I'm not sure how to set it up. I used to think I knew what I was doing with installing a distro, but that was in the good old days of bios - none of this efi and secure boot malarkey. I wonder if I could share my use-case and get some advice?

It will basically be a single-user machine for myself. However, an elderly relative might visit from time to time - and he has his own ideas of how a machine should be set up - unfortunately, his 'improvements' are not always desirable! I'd also like my data encrypted, just in case it's stolen. I considered the options of just encrypting my home directory, but I think this arrangement might suit better:

1. an OS for my day-to-day use (probably Ubuntu), with full disk encryption, and automatic login (I'm lazy and don't like typing multiple passwords)
2. a separate OS for elderly relatives to play with, probably Mint (just because it comes with more stuff installed by default, so I'm less likely to be asked to help install things)

This way, I don't need to provide the password for my main system to any visitors. Ok maybe I could lose Ubuntu if he decides to overwrite the SSD, but I'll have backups, and a full reinstall is a more palatable way of spending an evening than arguing with him.

Is this a sensible way to do it? Would you do it differently?
 
Old 05-08-2021, 05:40 AM   #2
obobskivich
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This may be too 'adversarial' of an approach, but if it were me, I'd probably just keep a live USB around for the relative(s) to play in, perhaps even helping him/them set-up a persistent live image (it's been a while since I've played around with that, but I remember Puppy Linux being a popular choice - I think PC Linux OS also includes utilities to automate a lot of that too), and then just go ahead with single OS + FDE (which is very easy with modern Ubuntu right from the installer) for yourself (dual booting with one distro 'full disk encrypted' sounds like a pain to setup, pain to administer, etc). I guess it depends how frequently the machine needs to do double duty as to how viable that is. If the other user(s) are likely to be re-formatting drives or doing other things that aggressively/destructively, maybe keep the laptop around for them as a 'second' system that they can do with as they want?
 
Old 05-08-2021, 06:10 AM   #3
Mantra
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Yes, of course - persistent usb would work - I could just leave the machine set to boot from usb, and unplug it when I want to use ubuntu. What's the performance hit like with modern hardware, is it viable for a normal desktop environment etc?
 
Old 05-08-2021, 06:13 AM   #4
Mantra
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I could keep the laptop I suppose, but I'd like to declutter and get rid of it really. Persistent USB is probably the way to go, as it's just for occasional use. Thanks!
 
Old 05-08-2021, 06:29 AM   #5
obobskivich
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mantra View Post
Yes, of course - persistent usb would work - I could just leave the machine set to boot from usb, and unplug it when I want to use ubuntu. What's the performance hit like with modern hardware, is it viable for a normal desktop environment etc?
With 'fancy' USB 3.0 drives I've had no complaints even with Ubuntu running GNOME (which I guess is 'heavy' on a system) - start-up times aren't bad and once its loaded everything is quite responsive (seems no better/worse than if you installed to disk - some of these newer USB 3.x drives can be as fast as the internal disk!). It isn't like the bad old days of 1-2MB/s 512MB thumb drives...
 
Old 05-08-2021, 06:35 AM   #6
Mantra
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That's good to know. And now I'm wondering if I've wasted money on an internal SSD! Will give it a go and see
 
Old 05-08-2021, 01:58 PM   #7
obobskivich
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Originally Posted by Mantra View Post
That's good to know. And now I'm wondering if I've wasted money on an internal SSD!
I would say 'not at all' - keep in mind that while those USB thumb drives may be pretty fast, they're generally not as resilient (or cost effective per-GB) as an SSD, and NVMe SSDs will still have a significant speed advantage (now whether or not that actually 'matters' or is 'noticeable' is another question and depends a lot on your use-case(s)).
 
  


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