Several months ago I bought a new computer and installed/configured dual boot with Arch/Ubuntu Studio. I wanted to try Arch (because it was suggested as a great distro for audio production [since it is comparatively lean]), but I wanted to get going with Ubuntu Studio right away in case I had bitten off more than I could chew with Arch. Hence, the dual boot scenario.

I'm not an experienced Linux system administrator; I found this to be very difficult. I read a lot of information from a massive amount of online sources and eventually figured it out. I never ended up using Ubuntu much at all, so it's just been taking up 128G on my 256G disk. When I followed the tutorials from the Arch Wiki, the sample suggested 15G for the root partition. At the time, I should've thought harder about this, because it did seem like a low number for the kinds of work I was planning to do (a lot of varied things = a lot of applications). I'm using i3 as my window manager, and I noticed right away that the drive space was going fast. I've got 1G left.

Long story short, I didn't make enough space for the root (/) partition, and I don't know how to correct it. My initial reaction was to just copy / over to where Ubuntu is. So I deleted the Ubuntu partition and repartitioned it with cgdisk. Then I booted with a live USB Ubuntu and mounted /dev/sda3 (my current /) to /oldroot and mounted /dev/sda2 (where Ubuntu used to be) to /newroot and cp -R /oldroot/* /newroot.

I'm not sure what to do from here, though. I have a separate boot partition that looks like this:


I don't remember what I did to create these .efi files, but I would imagine that their purpose is to direct the process to the current /boot/grub/grub.cfg script (it looks like a bash script). I'm not sure. I think I remember this being done as part of running grub-mkconfig or something like that, but I don't know where I was when I did that or at what stage in the process, so now I've hit a wall.

Maybe I shouldn't even be trying to switch partitions--maybe I should be trying to simply increase the size of the root partition as it is, but I don't know how to do that.

What should I do from here?

  • 2
    FYI: "it was suggested as a great distro for audio production [since it is comparatively lean]" -- this is bogus. That a distro/installation includes less software and so takes up less space on disk does not make it any better for audio processing or any other processor intensive task. It just means it does not require as much disk space. That kind of "leanness" has no (as in none, zero) impact on performance. You could install the entirety of Ubuntu's repository and an absolute minimal Arch, one would not be any faster than the other. – goldilocks Sep 24 '13 at 13:51
  • @goldilocks I think the recommendation comes from the ability to choose not to have a desktop environment (or even a window manager, etc.)--things that do affect performance. – tjb1982 Sep 24 '13 at 13:53
  • Software only impacts performance when you are using it. You can choose and install as many DE's and WM's as you want -- but when they are not running, they don't make any difference. They're just files on disk. While they are in use, the only significant impact they have is on available memory. Some newbies (no offence) see headless installs (which Arch facilitates) as a way to boot to console without a GUI. That is totally daft -- booting to a console, or being able to turn the X server off is just a matter of configuration. You don't have to avoid installing anything. – goldilocks Sep 24 '13 at 14:03
  • ...I'm a little surprised anyone does audio production without a GUI desktop, but it's not something I know much about. – goldilocks Sep 24 '13 at 14:07
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    Audio doesn't require GUI. I think most people who "write songs" use GUI apps to do that. What I have in mind is programming real-time audio. Using languages like C, Clojure, Csound, Supercollider, Chuck, etc. you don't need GUI. But as I said, I'm using i3 WM, so in some cases GUI is a good thing and I use it when it's good. – tjb1982 Sep 24 '13 at 14:13

Migrating your root filesystem to a new partition should be possible.

cp -R /oldroot/* /newroot

-R is the wrong argument in this situation, because cp will not preserve file attributes like owners and permissions by default. Delete the copied root file system and start over with:

cp -a /oldroot/* /newroot

-a should preserve everything, or at least everything that is important.

After you have copied it again, you need to do the following:

  • mount the boot partition to to /newroot/boot
  • bind mount sys, proc, dev and run in /newroot
  • chroot into /newroot
  • run update-initramfs -u and update-grub

The system should then boot from the new partition.

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  • update-initramfs is possibly a Debian-specific command. I don't know the equivalent of Arch. – Martin von Wittich Sep 24 '13 at 14:00

Another option would be to move files away from your /. If you have space on your /home partition for example, just move /usr there (run these as root):

mv /usr /home/usr
ln -s /home/usr /

That way /usr is no longer eating up space on /.

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Well, the simplest thing to do is probably to use a live distribution of your favorite GNU/Linux (a USB stick with a Live Ubuntu would do it for example) and to resize your partition with a tool as Gparted (easy to use, with a great GUI). Did it several times, works like a charm.

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  • That seems like a great idea, but is there any way to do it similarly to the way I was trying to do it? Just curious--because using a tool like Gparted doesn't really help me understand this 'stuff' any better. – tjb1982 Sep 24 '13 at 13:47
  • @tjb1982 If you want to use the CLI tool wrapped by gparted, it's parted. – goldilocks Sep 24 '13 at 14:15

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