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On a remote server the boot/system disk is corrupting. It is running Debian 4.0 on an Intel Core 2 CPU 4300 @ 1.80GHz.

Is it possible to "prepare" a bootable disk I'll then send to my ISP to install?

I would like to setup Debian 6 on the disk, copy/install most of the services running on the remote machine on a local test-bed machine, then unplug the boot-disk from the test-bed and send it to the remote-hands of my ISP to install. To minimize downtime.

Problem is, I've got only AMD Athlon based test-machines at hand. I know that at least Windows would install so many architecture dependent stuff on install that such a swap would be nearly impossible. But is Linux "universal" enough to boot once the AMD based install is hooked into the Intel based system??

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

In general Linux is much less sensitive to changes in hardware than Windows is. Windows HAL (Hardware Abstraction Layer) has an enormous amount of drivers and they only install the drivers strictly needed. In addition to this Windows DRM solution (Genuine Advantage) will block a move to new hardware, and the bootloader is sensitive to hardware changes. I believe Windows 7 is a bit nicer when it comes to moving to new hardware, but I have little experience with it.

Normally it's not a problem to move a Linux installation to another computer, as long as the new CPU supports the architecture used and you don't change the order of the hard disks (in which case you must update your grub config).

AMD Athlon (unlike the Athlon 64) only support x86, so you would have to limit yourself to the x86 distribution. You may also have to keep track of PAE, as the default kernel being installed on systems with large amounts of memory is usually a PAE kernel. Otherwise distributions such as Ubuntu installs identical kernels on all hardware, so you shouldn't have any problems.

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1. "long as the new CPU supports the architecture used": you answered yourself with "to limit yourself to the x86 distribution", right? 2. The prepared-disk would become sda3 I think, the screwed one is currently sda2 - that does change hd order, right? 3. uname -a doesn't tell me about a pae kernel currently being used. – isync Dec 13 '11 at 19:35
sda3 does not make sense in this context. First of all, sda2 vs sda3 is partitions, not disks. Secondly what is important is the order the disks are booted, which is the order grub sees them (hd1, hd2 etc.). If you remove one disk and connect a new disk using the same physical cables you are typically fine. If that doesn't work, boot up on a rescue disk and do a grub-install to sort it out is typically fastest and easiest. – pehrs Dec 14 '11 at 8:46

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