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I've seen a lot of questions about Ubuntu and Windows 8 on a new machine with Windows 8 pre-installed and that UEFI stuff, but nothing useful about upgrading from win7 to win8 and Ubuntu.

I have a win7 machine (no UEFI firmware) with a WUBI installation of 64-bit Ubuntu 12.10 and am looking to simply upgrade from win7 to win8.

Will this have serious complications with my current set up, like with the pre-installed win8 machines? Will my Ubuntu install be lost in the win8 upgrade?


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This is not off-topic, please read the question not only the title before voting. – Javier Rivera Feb 23 '13 at 14:17
up vote 1 down vote accepted

It shouldn't be lost, provided you don't format over your drive. It will probably also honour the entries in the Windows Boot Manager (BCD store) But that's something you need to check with Windows 8 upgrade documentation - if it doesn't you could always add it back manually.

However, if you care about your Ubuntu install, then it's advisable to back it up. You should do this anyway, because Wubi installs can get corrupted more easily than a normal install. What you should do is backup the entire \ubuntu\disks directory. This contains the main file, root.disk, the virtual disk and swap.disk and then some empty subdirectories (unimportant). In some installs there may be other virtual disks e.g. home.disk, usr.disk, but normally there're just the two.

If you back these up it's easy to restore the install even if the upgrade fails.

Windows 8 works fine with Wubi - provided you don't enable hybrid sleep (not enabled by default). Fast start (which is enabled) is okay with Wubi.

Backing up a Wubi install

You can just copy the \ubuntu\disk directory or the separate .disk files to an external drive. Wubi installs Ubuntu onto virtual disks that are mounted as loop devices, but are just physical files on the host NTFS or FAT32 (Windows) "drives". So backing them up is as simple as copying the files to an external drive.

This isn't the most efficient way to back up a Wubi install since you're also copying the free space on the virtual disk, plus all the general OS files, packages, cache that you wouldn't normally backup. But the simplicity makes up for that.

If you need to restore from the backup you can just replace the .disk files from your backup. This is also convenient when attempting upgrades or if you want to just play around with some things and are worried you won't be able to undo it later.

You can even reinstall the same release of Wubi and then replace the new .disk files with the backups, but they either have to be on the same partition, or else you need to do a bit of manual grub booting the first time. See this for details: moved ubuntu folder from C: to D: drive how to correct UUID entries

Data backups

It's also a good idea to maintain separate data backups which can be done as for a normal install, just focusing on personal data and settings. I prefer to use Ubuntu One to keep all data fully sychronized, and with data that doesn't have to be on the virtual disks, e.g. jpegs and mp3s etc., I store these on the /host partition or another mounted partition. This is the safest way to use Wubi, as there seem to be many cases of filesystem corruption that can lead to a full loss of the install.

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Thank you for the wonderful info, sir! =) – David Kennedy Feb 23 '13 at 4:55
You're welcome! Good luck, and let us know how it goes. – bcbc Feb 23 '13 at 5:19
Good answer. Consider adding some suggestions on how to do the backup for idiot proofing. – jokerdino Feb 23 '13 at 6:14

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