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The computer tinkerer - multi-boot

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Bottom Feeder, May 11, 2017.



  1. Bottom Feeder

    Bottom Feeder Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Gold Chaser Site Supporter

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    Some of us here discuss multiple operating systems on a computer (dual boot) and I would like to make a simple suggestion for you to try out, one that I use myself. Instead of using one boot disk with two partitions and dual boot use separate hard drives. I have three 250 Gb SSDs that I switch out when I want to run a different OS. I also have one 120 gig for ‘experiments’.

    Of course, if you want to switch boot drives you need access to the boot drive. Being an old computer geek I leave the cover off my computer case (I build my machines in a tower style case). Doesn’t look very neat but who cares? Certainly not me.

    Open Case.jpg
    And if you do run open case be sure you have installed a couple more auxiliary exhaust fans in the cutouts provided in the case.

    I leave my primary boot drive installed in the case, where I can access the drive cables, from which I simply unplug the data cable when I want to change boot drives. Since the SSD does not have a platter drive motor it pulls virtually no power when the drive cable is removed, you can leave the power cable attached. I usually just lay the secondary boot drive on the bench beside the case and hook it up with a different set of cables (power and data), use it until I’m finished then remove it and reconnect the primary boot drive.

    As soon as I install a fresh OS on a system, run windoze authentication, and download all the updates. I use Acronis True Image to make a full backup of the new boot drive. I have used Acronis for more than ten years and recommend it as a valuable tool that every computer fixer needs in his (or her) arsenal. Then I simply clone the first install of windoze onto the other boot drives which all look identical to windoze. That gets around the windoze authentication BS required for each OS install (Acronis will also change the hard drive DISK ID when cloning if you tell it to). There is also the advantage of having an image of a clean install waiting for you in the future if you need it.

    After I have installed all the programs I need on the primary boot drive I make another Acronis image of it as well. During the year, as I run windoze update (you all do update your OS monthly now, don’t you?) I will occasionally re-image the primary drive. Of course, all these images need a safe place to store them, right? I have another drive for that (you will need some type of storage other that the drive you are backing up to store the image on, a 10-25 gb USB will work).

    This method is only useful if you separate the OS from the data by storing them on different physical hard drives. For data storage I am currently using 2 terabyte hard drives (rotational, not SSDs). I have two of them, designated as a media storage drive (photos, music, video) and an ‘everything else’ drive. An older 750 gb hard drive is used for ‘storage’ (Acronis images, install programs, etc) for a total of four (counting the SSD boot drive) operating hard drives in the machine. But, wait, there’s more.

    I have a five terabyte drive, mounted in a removable case that I use for backups. The drive mounts as an internal HD so as to use data buss speeds, not USB transfer speed to back up my drives. The three data drives, being non-bootable require only bit copy of the data so it’s just simply select directories and copy – a simple system command. When I’m done with the backup (now getting to be a three or four hour task) I shut down and remove the backup drive. I’m pretty lazy about this backup part, it only gets done about every three months or so. But I’ll bet it’s much more often than the majority of computer users manage.

    Of course none of this will work for you if you’re a laptop aficionado or insist on keeping the footprint on your desk as small as possible or make one of those digital devices your main machine. Computers seem to be following the path automotive producers have followed since the 60s; that of cramming more and more devices in the engine compartments that grew smaller and smaller until it got to the point where you couldn’t fit your hands in there to work in there anymore.

    This essay is not meant to be a comprehensive computer build plan but merely a basic suggestion for constructing a more bullet proof system that you can fool around with and not be pulling your hair out over ugly mistakes.

    BF
     
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  2. the_shootist

    the_shootist The war is here on our doorstep! Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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  3. Goldhedge

    Goldhedge Modal Operator/Moderator Site Mgr Site Supporter

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    I too have an 128g SSD OS drive.

    Man is it fast! 20 second boot to log in!

    I use a 1TB HD for apps and storage.

    I also have two 256gb SSDs sitting around doing nothing!

    I want to move the 128 over to the 256, but for some reason I haven't figured out why yet, it turns the 256 into a 128!

    Used acronis as well, so I must be choosing the wrong setting?
     
  4. the_shootist

    the_shootist The war is here on our doorstep! Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    Yeah, do some research into the settings. You should be able to see the whole ~250 gigs available after you copy your image from the source disk to the target disk
     
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  5. Bottom Feeder

    Bottom Feeder Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Gold Chaser Site Supporter

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    Like shootist said "research the settings" It sometimes asks you confusing questions that seem like warnings. Try formatting the disk (if it's not empty) before you restore to it. Keep the image on an external drive and put only the target drive in the computer (saves much anguish and hair pulling, ask me how I know).

    Shootest - some of these external drive arrangements will not work to boot from - have you used this solution? The other concern is that it runs the OS at USB xfer rate speeds and it will slow things down, there's nothing like buss speed for hard drive I/O.

    BF
     
  6. Professur

    Professur Midas Member Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    First off .. the computer case is made of steel for a reason ... it's a Faraday cage. If you want random radio waves fucking with your data, be my guest ... I'll keep my case shut. Second ... every case I've ever seen is designed to move air over the components for cooling. With the case open, none of the cooling works right, causing heat issues.

    As for multi-booting with multiple drives ... shit, we did that back in the 286 days, with drive drawers. https://www.startech.com/ca/HDD/Mob...ock-Absorbers-Professional-Series~DRW115SATBK Kept the drives safe, clean, and easy to manage, without messing with wires and cables.


    Now, snapshotting your fresh install is a smart choice. I've always done that ... even back when the entire OS fit on a floppy. It's a bit tougher today given that the OS alone is over a gig. The trouble with that is passwords. If you're changing your passwords regularly, you need to make sure you have the passwords for your virgin image written down somewhere, and you need to make damn sure you've changed them the instant after the image is done. Now you will run into issues when you have 5 different copies of windows, and one license of Office installed across the lot.
     
  7. the_shootist

    the_shootist The war is here on our doorstep! Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    The BIOS must support boot from USB (most modern machines do) but you're right, you're limited by the USB bus speed. If high performance is required a USB 3.0 port is a must if you go this route.


    Some good info below:
    If you're using an SSD on a 3Gbps SATA bus, the SATA bus is the bottleneck. If you're using an SSD on a 6Gbps bus, you're probably limited by the drive speed, but if it's a very fast SSD you're bumping up against the limit of the interface. USB 2.0 is the bottleneck for hard drives and flash drives.

    The now-aging USB 2.0 standard can theoretically transfer data at a very high 480 megabits per second(mbps), or 60 megabytes per second (MBps). That's impressive, but not as much as the newer USB 3.0, which can handle up to 5gbps (640MBps)—over ten times as fast as the 2.0 maximum
     
  8. the_shootist

    the_shootist The war is here on our doorstep! Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    Remember the days of DOS when we were trying to cram as much into that little area of upper memory that we could? Those were the days you had to be smart!!
     
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  9. Professur

    Professur Midas Member Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    Remember it .. hell, I've still got a dos machine rattling about. Have to keep it for running the wife's copy of Lemmings.
     
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  10. Bottom Feeder

    Bottom Feeder Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Gold Chaser Site Supporter

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    Got a 750 watt PS with two internal fans in it. I have six auxiliary fans mounted in my case, one more for the CPU and another for the video card. I can't remember when I last left the side panel on my main computer (about 7 comps in use in this house at present but they are all enclosed). The RF interference actually works the other way; your computer gives off a low power, high frequency electromagnetic waveform that interferes with TV, radio, phones, ect - you don't really need a faraday cage for your data. Try one of those removable hard drive set-ups for a boot drive and you will run into the same problems I did.

    You don't need to password protect your initial install, change that when your clone it onto a target drive. And, again, Acronis will change the DISK ID to match the original install so, to windoze all disks are the same and appear to have been already authenticated.

    This ain't windoze 10s I'm talkin about here, it's just good old win7. (piece of crap that it may be)
    I've still got DOS, XP and NT clones that I can ginn up.

    bf
     
  11. Bottom Feeder

    Bottom Feeder Hypophthalmichthys molitrix Gold Chaser Site Supporter

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    DOS, heh, I started my days in punch cards that ran a computer to test wiring harness in 747. My first real computer ran on paper tape, a two axis positioning system. Like I said in another thread, ‘I started in vacuum tubes’ and then just followed the river up.

    Now I’m done. Can’t remember shit, can’t hardly see up close, and things are getting to fast for me to keep up with. Hell, I don’t even have one of them ‘smart phones’. I’ll tinker, but I’m done.

    BF
     
  12. the_shootist

    the_shootist The war is here on our doorstep! Midas Member Site Supporter ++

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    You seem to be pre 'me' my friend. While you were running punchcards I was bringing up my family in my previous life as a meatcutter. I came in during the XT desktop era....it was a perfect time as that was when things really started to get rolling in computers
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
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