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Old 12-29-2004, 10:49 PM   #1
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Hard Drives moving from one PC to another

I have been using Linux for about 18 months (RedHat 7.3) and have an Apache virtual server with a couple of client accounts. Also have a Qmail, etc. I'm no full-fledged webhosting business but I am concerned about hardware failures as I am hosting one site for money. My question is this: with Windows you can take the hard drive out of a machine, if the PC craps out, and put it another machine. On boot it just finds new devices and seems to figure out what to do to make everything work. On a couple of occassions I've tried doing this with Linux and I get the dreaded "kernel panic, you're up the creek without a paddle" deal. Now, since my primary box for hosting is an Emachine 433 that, after rebates from MSN and Emachines, cost me 28 bucks (5 years ago).....I'm a little nervous. Even a guy at Best Buy, where I bought the thing, said, "I can't believe it's still working - they were horrible back then....". I do backup everything up once a night with a simple shell a Gateway 266 that's as old as the hills.

Sorry for the story of my computing life, here. My question is this (obviously): can a hard drive with Linux installed be successfully moved to another machine - and if so, how???? What do you do when the thing hangs with the message about a 'kernel panic"?

Thanks for any input.
Old 12-30-2004, 12:53 AM   #2
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You seem to have it backwards. When you move Windows (2000 or XP) from one machine to another, Windows will not start. This is by design. Linux, on the other hand, will usually move just fine. So long as you don't have a custom, stripped down kernel, you should be set to go. I've "transplanted" numerous Linux installations. Slackware transplants fine, Debian will move okay too. I don't know how more "setup" distros like RedHat, Fedora, and Mandrake will handle, but you still should have no major problems. Services like inetd will work fine (apache), as that's what I transplanted Slack10 for a few weeks ago. The worst you can do is have to put the drive back, so it doesn't hurt to try.
Old 12-30-2004, 03:16 PM   #3
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I can confirm that SuSE moves (at least I didn't see any problems). I suspect that Mandrake also moves. Both will run their setup/configuration scripts and such when the hardware it's familiar with changes.

My opinion is that transplants are more likely to succeed on newer systems though. You may have needed to disable ACPI or something.
Old 12-30-2004, 04:43 PM   #4
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I appreciate the replies but, as usual, I'm confused. I've never had any trouble moving a hard drive on Windows and I've tried this with 4 hard drives, between 3 machines, using Linux - and it's always failed. Could be the fact that it's an old version of RedHat (or that it's RedHat, period). I've done it pre kernel upgrade, post kernel upgrade, etc... I promise, it has never worked.
Old 12-30-2004, 06:03 PM   #5
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Moving a hard drive with Linux on it into a new cabinet usually works just fine. The two main problem areas would be if the onboard devices (sound, video, LAN, etc) on the new machine require different drivers than those on the old machine (the solution to this may be that you have to manually load those modules via the modprobe command) and similarly, the other potential problem area would be if there are other hard drives and the "transplanted" drive is put into a different device location as a result of the move. Example: if the drive were the primary master on the original machine but you installed it as the primary slave on the new machine. (Note that any time you are putting a drive into a box you need to verify that the drive is jumpered appropriately.)

Are you using multiple hard drives? The first thought that occurs to me is that if for example you were dual booting and had Windows on /dev/hda and Linux on /dev/hdb, when you move the drive containing Linux over to a new box, it might end up in the primary master position (/dev/hda) and therefore your existing fstab file will be out of sync. More specifically, the root partition in your fstab would still be pointing to a partition on /dev/hdb but instead it should be pointing to /dev/hda

I don't know if any of this applies to your situation but it may be something to check -- J.W.
Old 12-30-2004, 06:39 PM   #6
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Thanks for the response, again. Multiple hard drives is not an issue - I'm less of a hardware guy than I am a Linux guru....never installed dual hard drives on a PC. That would create a myriad of issues, I would think (with the situation I've describe). And to tell you what a dolt I am generally, I've heard the term "modprobe" and don't even know what it is, never used it, etc. If it isn't something you can use from the earliest menu at boot in RedHat (the "grub loader" command line I think - limited number of commands supported) I never get as far as a standard shell (well, I think I made that clear). I'll test it in the next day or so again. Have another individual willing to pay for webhosting and we are very poor - we need the money but - argh - I don't trust that old Emachine....! The drive is almost new and is virtualy silent, non-buggy, etc. But the PC is about ready for Goodwill or the Salavation Army. Thanks again.


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