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My Vaio already has Windows 7 and I want to dual boot it with Linux. I was advised to use GRUB (non-legacy). I already created an extended partition aimed at Arch Linux. I am going to install Arch there.

As I am a newbie, I had this idea to avoid breaking my system.

  1. I install Arch on the extended partition from an external USB Hard Drive. Windows partitions and hard disk MBR should not be touched.
  2. I install GRUB onto the MBR of a USB flash drive stick, so I can start my notebook from the USB device and run GRUB menu from there (with the possibility of choosing between Windows or Arch).
  3. I make a backup of HDD MBR using dd.
  4. I copy GRUB onto the hard disk MBR. If I break something I will still boot with method sub 2 and I could restore the MBR backup.

For point 2 I need to store all GRUB config files on the USB stick. Possible?

For point 3, I could to start a live Arch from an external USB Hard Drive and the command should be (including partition table):

# dd if=/dev/sdb of=/tmp/mbr.bak bs=512 count=1

Before studying GRUB manual I'd like to know if my strategy is correct or if there are better alternatives.

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any news? did you manage? –  cedbeu Aug 16 '13 at 11:58
    
@cedbeu: I am first experimenting it with a virtual machine and I have some problems with partclone. See unix.stackexchange.com/questions/87900/… –  antonio Aug 25 '13 at 11:49
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3 Answers 3

You can use Yumi if you want, to install more then one OS on your USB stick, I always keep a copy of Rescatux (Linux recovery tool) on my USB which can restore your GRUB after each install it's usually a quick process.

That said if you install Arch-Linux properly by following the Wiki page you shouldn't have any issues installing GRUB from the command line interface during the actual installation, you shouldn't have any problem with a broken boot loader, the reason I suggest doing it this way is because if you're new to arch you may want to reinstall if you screw up the installation, this tool is invaluable it's saved me a lot of time and frustration.

There's also Super GRUB2 Disk, but I've had problems with that.

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First, this is a very good idea to have an Arch system next to your Windows 7 system.

My advice for you would be to use the Parted Magic LiveCD / LiveUSB (you can prepare the live USB stick from Windows using UNetbootin) to:

  1. Backup your current Windows 7 system using Clonezilla. It will take care of your MBR.
  2. Create the partition(s) for your arch distro (only one partition should be enough for all of your filesystem unless you have special needs, swap partition is not a requirement anymore if you have a modern computer with a few gigs of RAM) using GParted (you can skip this step if you already created a partition for your arch system)

Then, you could install your arch following that installation guide. You will have to do a few things manually, mounting your partition, copying the files, chrooting to your future partition of choice, and configuring your system (and your grub)... compared to most other distros it might looks a bit tedious at first, but this is a really good way to learn, and to know exactly what's going on, and most of all, this is nothing really complicated since the guide is very detailled and accurate.

You should not have to worry about anything else. The default Grub on Arch is Grub 2 (non-legacy) which is fine, and it should find your Windows partition without any difficulty. Keep it simple and secure.

I do not recommend the manipulation you said, installing grub on a usb stick and copying it on the HDD, and so on... Doesn't really make sense and it makes things more complicated for nothing. Just ensure you have a backup of your system and just install your second system the normal way, with grub on your arch partition under /boot.

In case of problem, you just restore your previous working Windows 7 system you backed up using Clonezilla on the PartedMagic LiveCD / LiveUSB, and try again... But it should not happen.

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My Arch dreams crushed as I am unable to solve an apparently simple problem with partclone. I want to clone my Yumi USB drive as a virtual VMware disk so to test it, before real installation. To do this I attach the physical USB to the VM, together with the Arch ISO and a Virtual HDD. I boot the Arch ISO (in the VM) and run partclone to clone the USB drive into the virtual HDD. But I run into the problems described here: unix.stackexchange.com/q/87900/44919 –  antonio Aug 28 '13 at 23:03
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If you have access to a windows 7 disk/iso you can use that to reinstall the windows boot loader. During the Arch install I assume you can install GRUB.

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