So, here's my setup. I have one partition with the newest version installed, a second partition with an older version installed (as a backup just in case), a swap partition that both share, and a boot partition so the bootloader doesn't need to be setup after each upgrade.


  • sda1 ext3 /boot
  • sda2 ext4 / (current version)
  • sda3 ext4 / (old version)
  • sda4 swap /swap
  • sda5 ntfs (contains folders symbolically linked to /home on /)

So far it has been a very good setup. I can modify the boot loaders for new installs without messing with the MBR. Adding my personal files (from the /home partition) is as easy as creating some symlinks in my home folder (even on a Windows install).

Here's the issue. I'd like to be able to deploy an installation in the 'current version' partition to overwrite the 'old version' partition effectively making it the new 'current version'.

The goal here is to do the install with no USB drives, external hard drives, or CD copies.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answers. Debootstrap is definitely the way to go with Ubuntu. Unfortunately, I'm trying to load Mint (which doesn't include a debootstrap script with its distros). As soon as I finish playing around with this, I'll make an update with directions of how to install using debootstrap. – Evan Plaice Feb 12 '11 at 12:51
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    I ended up using unetbootin with a USB. I was hoping to create a script to do a one-command-deploy-to-partition option. Debootstrap would be perfect for this but Mint doesn't support it yet. – Evan Plaice Feb 16 '11 at 0:33
  • I removed the in-question answer. Answers must be posted as such. – fkraiem Dec 25 '17 at 12:17
  • @EvanPlaice I recommend that you post your own solution as an answer, as it was recently edited out of your question. The Markdown of the revision in which you introduced it can be conveniently accessed here in case you want to copy and paste the relevant part. Even though you've accepted another author's answer, you can still post a self-answer (just as other users can still post answers). – Eliah Kagan Dec 25 '17 at 12:28

Ubuntu has an article on Installing Ubuntu from a Unix/Linux System , using debootstrap to do a "cross-install." It won't be a perfect fit to what you're doing, but it should get you on your way.

  • This is definitely the correct answer. Unfortunately, I'm using trying to install Linux Mint 10 which doesn't support it. – Evan Plaice Feb 12 '11 at 12:49

For all Debian based distribution (like is Ubuntu, see http://wiki.debian.org/Derivatives), you should really look at the debootstrap tool which is the correct solution to this problem.

Look at some tutorials on the net because you will need to debootstrap and then to customise it with chroot.

Anyway this installation method is totally supported and one of the best ways to do it, so there should be no problem (I think the Debian and Ubuntu installer CD are using it).

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