For those that multi-boot Linux distros......why?

I was more interested in multi-boot when I first started exploring linux. But keeping all of them up to date wore thin. Now I run one linux (updated) and a non-updated windows on each system. I don’t run windows enough to have a high security risk.

An installed backup distro concept has merit, but liveUSB ISOs can accomplish most of the same things. The exception is hardware won’t run well with an unmodified ISO. That’s where a persistent liveUSB is helpful.

I don’t multi-boot, I see no reason to do so, and even if I did, I couldn’t be bothered to… One OS per machine is quite enough for me.

In the extremely rare situations that I need something different than EndeavourOS, I either boot up a live image, or use a virtual machine. Or I use one of a dozen old, rubbish computers lying around, that I can’t bring myself to condemn to electronic waste, because the damn things still work.

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Reasons to multi-boot:

  1. Because I can - lotsa room, and data on a separate drive
  2. Allows testing of things I’m pretty sure I don’t want on my daily driver - including troubleshooting for others.
  3. Always have a ‘backup’ system ready to go if trouble comes. I can’t update them all at the same time!
  4. Allows ‘seeing for myself’ as to whether something else (another distro or DE) is amazing.
  5. Allows staging ‘improvements’ through use - while deciding if they become part of the daily driver setup. This goes right down to AUR helpers and aliases to see if they really are an improvement (for MY use case)
  6. Keep up with improvements made on newer releases - they don’t ALL propagate seamlessly!
  7. And again - why not? it’s another way of testing to see if I’ve learned anything since the last time!

I’ll admit that the hopping part of things has died down a lot since EnOS and Arch entered the picture - now the differences are in whether compiz is enabled, and what tools are included…

Of course - some I just have to try out - like Ubuntu (Xubuntu) Rolling release just to KNOW what it’s like :grin:

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I use multi boot because sometimes I feel like trying out new distributions.

Playing devil’s advocate … can this experimentation not be done easier in VMs, rather than bare metal installs?

You have to reboot to use another bare metal OS, and with VMs you can have many virtual systems running concurrently, only really limited by available memory.

Snapshot management in VBox is great for experimentation systems too, takes seconds to restore a snapshot and boot into it if you break it.

One point in time I had about 40 VMs, I was installing and trying everything, but I finally reached the conclusion that nothing ever came close to Arch and AUR.

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I have tried VMs, and they have their advantages (as you mention) but I have had poor luck with VBox (except with playing card games on Windows - all it’s good for), and insufficient time to familiarise myself with qemu properly. On top of that, there are distros out there that do not work the same way in VM’s as they do on metal - Garuda comes to mind. In addition, I work with rEFInd (and other) booting solutions which of course are not testable in VM environments.

I also found that the reboot is not that much slower than starting up a VM - and has the advantage that updates are properly applied (like new kernels etc) almost in passing…if you are rebooting anyway, why not choose somewhere else to go? :grin:

That’s most of the reasons, I think. It could just be a bad habit, of course! With 2 multi-boot systems on a KVM switch, it leaves me with something to do when I haven’t anything pressing…

You should be able to test refind in a VM.

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You know what they say about assume - perhaps it has struck again! Would it depend on which VM solution was in use?

I suppose it could but I can’t think of one off the top of my head that wouldn’t support it.

I have tested all flavors of boot managment solutions in a VM. Honestly, stuff like that is easier to test in a VM because of snapshots. You can instantly revert a VM to a previous state including the bootloader/efi variables/etc

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Well - I may not be too old to learn - but I may be too old to make use of the knowledge! :grin: Thanks for the info - and another thing to work on…

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I used to be a single distro user (Ubuntu) for a while. I currently have a triple boot setup - Endeavour, Ubuntu and Fedora - one for each of the ‘families (arch/debian/redhat-fedora-centos)’ - with a data partition shared between them… I ended up with this when I started distrohopping, but the reasons why I left the multi-boot setup as-is:

  • (As someone already mentioned) - If something fails to boot/breaks - easy to boot into another and fix - failover, essentially
  • I’m in the process of creating software that could be deployed/used on multiple distros - so a more thorough test setup thats not on the cloud - one for each family… (test installing an built .deb, an .rpm, etc with folder structures that could be specific to a distro) without using/affecting the main OS… Thats the idea…

That said, Endeavour has become my main desktop, I havent needed to boot into Ubuntu for a while now… So the first reason may not be valid anymore… I may end up trying out Silverblue - or Qubes - sometime - may revisit this then…

While shoe-horning…

the only point i see in doing it is like i do and dual boot endeavouros with windows and i use windows for gaming (what linux can’t do anyways) and use linux for everything else. i don’t see a real point in dual booting more than one linux os because the only real difference sometimes is package managers and maybe if you wanted to dual boot vanilla arch just to tinker around with it

Thanks for the post and welcome to the forum!

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image

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thanks for the info on linux gaming! if i can get the games i want to play to work in linux then i’ll be more than happy to ditch windows completely because i don’t use it for anything else anyways.

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Sure, my pleasure :wink:

If you’ll have any trouble or question - just ask in gaming section, maybe we can help figuring it out :upside_down_face:

I’ve dropped Windows couple of years ago, 98% of games from my personal library are working great, but you know…There are some problematic ones, in online realms with DRM i’ve heard (not online player myself).

It’s getting even better with time!

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awesome! yea, i’m not an online player either anyways so it won’t hurt my feelings if the online feature doesn’t work. i heard that the new kernel, i think they said 5.12 will have some patches added to fix a lot of games that have issues with DRM. not sure about the exact kernel version but i know that they’re working on it

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You mean EndeavourOS and vanilla Arch? There really is no point, they are pretty much identical.

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yea, i agee. i just installed endeavor when i made that comment but the more i use it, the more i realize that it’s pretty much identical like you said to vanilla arch