Hard drive is dying,all advice welcome
My primary drive ('C' or hda1 - whichever way you want to read it) is coming to the end of it's life and needs to be replaced. That's no problem but there are 3 O.S. on the drive and one on the 'D'/hdb1. What I need is a much advice as possible before I make the replacement, some of my questions relate to multi-booting Windows and Linux on one machine so I hope no-one minds if a Windows question gets thrown in.
I'm running Win 98, Mandrake 10.1 Official and SuSE 9.2 Personal off the primary drive (the one that's dying) and XP on the second. Also, all my personal files are stored on the same drive as XP. When I fit a new 'C' (hda) drive, all boot records will have to be re-created, correct? Therefore, I would first re-install Win 98 but the next one that must be in the 'mix' is XP, it's on it's own drive so I'll need to re-create the Windows dual boot (NTLDR) and want to do that without a full re-install of XP. Next, I would create my Linux partitions using Partiton Magic and first install SuSE, again correct? As SuSE defaults to the main partiton where the swap file is and my copy doesn't give the option to choose a drive or partition (see my postings in SuSE forum). After that, I have install disks of Fedora and Ubuntu which I'd like to include but in order to create boot floopys for these, is the procedure the same as in SuSE as Flatline showed me (again, posted in SuSE forum) and which goes on next? Is it Fedora or Ubuntu? The last one to be installed will be Mandriva as I now have an install disk for LE 2005, came with my Linux magazine.
Sorry, to be such a long posting but I want to get everything right before I open up the machine and make the replacement, once I take the old drive out, I have to finish what I will have started. Any advice I can get will be welcome.
Cloning a HD - bit-by-bit
I think I have a good, free, solution. I believe that I did pretty much what you described recently, using one of the utilities that's on the Ulimate Boot CD:
There are several utilities included on the CD that offer HD Cloning (see the directory on the CD with that name). I believe the one I used was called "G4U". It allowed me to boot directly from the UBCD, start the utility in question, and then do a bit-by-bit clone of the entire HD. It apparenty does the boot sectors and all else (mirror image), as the cloned disk is now bootable, and is a mirror image of the original. The utility is a command line type, but there are instructions that appear when you start it up. The only "tricky" bit (as I see it - famous last words ;O), is finding the correct designation for the drive you're cloning TO. If you read through it a bit, you can probably figure it out, as I did. Just be careful not to get it backwards, and end up wiping the "good" HD. ;o) I cloned an 80gig WD to an 80 gig Seagate. It took about three quarters of an hour on my P4, 2600, which isn't bad for that much cloning. I was impressed. BTW, it also allowed me to have both IDE drives attached simultaneously, as slave and master on the primary IDE port, and worked fine in that configuration!
I hope that helps.