• Status Closed
  • Percent Complete
  • Task Type Bug Report
  • Category Live Mode
  • Assigned To No-one
  • Operating System All
  • Severity Critical
  • Priority Very Low
  • Reported Version 3.0
  • Due in Version Undecided
  • Due Date Undecided
  • Votes
  • Private
Attached to Project: Elive
Opened by Titi - 2020-01-06
Last edited by thanatermesis - 2020-01-23

FS#738 - Huge installation crash

My test machine :
HP-Z620, no nVME BIOS support (and no chance to ever have it)
480GB PCIe nVME module, no option ROM (not bootable without BIOS support)
2GB USB stick, plugged on mother board (glued inside computer)
Multiboot : Ubuntu 18 LTS + Elementary Hera + Trisquel Flidas

USB stick : /dev/sda 1.8GB
/dev/sda1 fat32 210MB boot,esp * EFI partition
/dev/sda2 ext4 410MB * UBUNTU boot partition
/dev/sda3 ext4 410MB * HERA boot partition
/dev/sda4 ext4 410MB * FLIDAS boot partition
/dev/sda5 ext4 410MB * spare boot partition

nVME module : /dev/nvme0n1 448GB
/dev/nvme0n1p1 ext4 60GB * UBUNTU root partition
/dev/nvme0n1p2 ext4 60GB * HERA root partition
/dev/nvme0n1p3 ext4 60GB * FLIDAS root partition
/dev/nvme0n1p4 ext4 60GB * spare root partition
/dev/nvme0n1p5 ext4 200GB * HOME partition, common

Trick : USB stick is bootable, holds the EFI and BOOT partition of each system.
Each boot partition contains all necessary drivers to acces the nVME root partition
to finish associated OS activation.
Trick : the single HOME partition is shared and used by all systems (one at a time, obviously), each system having different users names, no need to explain why !!!

So far, so good, everything working like a charm.
Then I decided to install Elive on the spare partitions to test it.

I installed Elive 3.8.2 Beta using option “my disk is already partioned”, selecting /dev/nvme0n1p4 for ROOT (with format), then adding /dev/sda1 for EFI (no formatting), /dev/sda5 for BOOT (with format) and at last /dev/nvme0n1p5 for HOME (definitely NO formatting).
I did not understood the last installation step where I had to specify the boot partition of my other system ??? Which one, I have 3 bootable OSes ?! So picked Hera at random.
Elive installation successfully finished, I reboot the computer. All installed OSes are visible in Grub, Elive is default and I let it start, works nice.

The killing.
I decide to check that all my other OSes still perform well.
I reboot and select Hera as it was the system specified during the last installation step.
It starts booting, I get the Elementary logo, but never ending. I try again and again but Hera does not boot anymore, OS is definitely dead !
Flidas and Ubuntu boot normally, but impossible to log in, no users exist anymore !
I boot a live stick to analyse the HOME partition and I see it has been renamed to Elive_home and no other user than Elive exists. It is like renaming the partition has lost all existing data or the partition has been re-formatted.

Closed by  thanatermesis
23.01.2020 11:41
Reason for closing:  Fixed

Mmmh… this sounds like a big issue

After to read all your detailed description, to me sounds like your home partition has been formatted, the question now is:

- do you have a backup of your home files?
- are you sure that the installer formatted the home partition? (or you selected this option by accident?)

Im going to read the installer sources to know if really formats when the users says "no" (it should not, and I remember to have recently look at this part of the code)

Ok, now talking about the other parts of the issue:

* you mentioned that it asked to specify the boot partition of your other systems (I assume you meant root instead of boot?), this was needed to fetch some needed information from it, for example the /etc/fstab files with the reference of the home partition, probably, or maybe the passwd/groups files which contains the correct UID's of your users, this is important for compatibility reasons

* the reason of why the other systems didn't booted correctly looks like it was due to the home partition was modified (or formated), probably the booting system never finished correctly because of that

Note that re-using a home partition between systems is not a 100% reliable thing, it is important to use the same UID and GID for their users in the other OSes (this is something an experienced admin user should do manually, but the installer is meant to create dummy users with the same characteristics and point them to their home directories), after that, the compatibility is almost correct, but there's other small issue: if you use application A (let's say firefox for example) in one OS and then in another, your home files can have a conflict, for example if the version of firefox is newer in the second OS, the conf files will be upgraded, and when you switch back to the other system it (probably) wont work because they will be not compatible with the old version… this is something that -could- happen between -some- applications, so every application has its own way to work, maybe you are lucky and you don't have any issues at all, but stills a possible issue… this also means that technically is not possible to share a /home partition between different OS'es, some users do it without knowing about these details, and it can work, or they can encounter these issues… in any case, the major problem for them is to use the same UID's and GID's, if they are not the same, the system will not login on their users desktops or having lots of "permission problems" error messages (this should not happen in Elive because of that UID / GID re-using system)

Now, my major concern is about your personal data, if your home partition has been formatted i hope you have backups about your important files, some months ago I had a crash of a BTRFS filesystem that I used for my home partition and all my data was entirely unrecoverable, hopefully I was able to recover most of them thanks to backups (except some recent work that was made on it), that's a reason of why Elive doesn't allow to use BTRFS (a very unreliable filesystem)


Update: Im reading the source code of the installer, the message you said should have been this one:

To import your existing shared users into your Elive system, the installer needs to know which one is the root partition of your other operating system to obtain the necessary configurations from its /etc directory. Please select the root partition of your other system.

After to continue reading the code carefully, it looks like it's really not going to format the partition with your selected options, but your result is that it formatted it

The bad news is that I don't see a "bug report" sent from the installer, which could include details about your installing process and what happened

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