I’m about to switch from Ubuntu to Arch but i‘m a bit concerned about the fragility of the „bleeding edge“ quality of Arch Linux. From what I’ve read sometimes Arch breaks after a kernel update. Since i depend on my system to remain operational I thought may be one could install 2 kernels/ 2 versions (like an LTS Version) side by side as a fall back. Would that be possible or is it better to install Ubuntu alongside as a failsafe system?

Merci A

  • Test upgrades in a virtual machine, or in a dual-boot setup. – Kusalananda May 6 '18 at 9:43
  • So that means it's not doable? – aerioeus May 6 '18 at 10:00

You can install the linux-lts package next to the regular linux and add an additional entry in your boot loader menu to boot with the LTS kernel instead of the regular one. Since Arch Linux supports multiple boot loaders, I won't provide a complete guide for that here, but for syslinux, where your menu entry in /boot/syslinux/syslinux.cfg usually looks like

LABEL arch
LINUX ../vmlinuz-linux
APPEND root=/dev/vg-raid/root cryptdevice=/dev/md0:raid resume=/dev/disk/by-label/swap rw
INITRD ../initramfs-linux.img

You can just append -lts to the filenames for LINUX and INITRD to create an entry for the LTS kernel:

LABEL archlts
LINUX ../vmlinuz-linux-ts
APPEND root=/dev/vg-raid/root cryptdevice=/dev/md0:raid resume=/dev/disk/by-label/swap rw
INITRD ../initramfs-linux-lts.img

Adding additional entries for grub, lilo, systemd-boot should work the same.

Please note that this only allows you to have a second kernel installed next to the regularly updated one. It does not prevent other packages from breaking, even when used with the LTS kernel.

  • merci, thats the road to go for me... – aerioeus May 6 '18 at 12:55
  • +1 I didn't think of LTS. One minor issue is when LTS is the same as the latest - if LTS is broken (very unlikely) both systems will be broken. – l0b0 May 6 '18 at 20:19

install 2 kernels/ 2 versions (like an LTS Version) side by side as a fall back.

You will need to create two full Arch Linux installations to have different kernels available.

[…] i depend on my system to remain operational […]

I have used Arch Linux for work and home machines (about four desktop machines and four or five laptops) since something like 2011, and the only thing to remember for kernel updates is to reboot afterwards to avoid subtle but annoying breakage. Also remember to always do a full upgrade. I upgrade very regularly, as in every couple days or so, and there are very rarely any problems at all. Problems are usually resolved by reading the latest announcement, which usually is as simple as "delete this file before upgrading." The bleeding edge nature of Arch Linux is surprisingly the least problematic aspect of it, possibly because upstream developers usually test their software more thoroughly with the latest of everything else than with old versions of things supported by the individual distros.

Depending on how much setup your system requires (and whether that setup is automated with for example Puppet or Chef), keeping Ubuntu and Arch Linux both at a level where you can work with them productively can be a bit of a challenge because of their fundamental differences. Knowing what I know now (that Arch Linux breaks much more rarely and less severely than Ubuntu for my use cases) I would take the leap and embrace rolling releases.

  • Merci, I jump :-) – aerioeus May 6 '18 at 12:56

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