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Ubuntu - loading operating system

My Ubuntu desktop needs an upgrade from 11.04 to 12.04 LTS. The problem is that this system is pretty critical for me and difficult to rebuild (complex development setup), so if the upgrade fails I have a big problem. I want to image the disk to another disk, then upgrade that disk and if that fails I can try again.

I have a spare harddisk which is smaller in size than the current disk. I could find another disk but that means a lot of work or buying a new disk, which I don't want to do. This is what I have:

Old disk
* 640GB with MBR
* 5 partitions, OS on sda4 which is in an extended partition sda3
* originally Windows was installed with Ubuntu as dual boot

New disk
* 500GB with GPT
* 3 partitions, OS is copied to sdb1
* edited /etc/fstab with the new GUID of the disk

NB: I use sda here for partitions on the old disk, sdb for partitions on the new disk.

When I remove the old disk and restart with only the new disk, I get a message "Loading operating system..." and a blinking cursor. Nothing happens.

My question is whether I can fix this easily or should I find a bigger disk? I would like to combine several partitions into one bigger data partition. If I do a disk copy, will I get the same problem?
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arober11
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Clonezilla must do the work. But I agree with rindi, why to upgrade to version 12.04? If you want just see the interface of 12.04 install it on that spare disk and look the new features and then decide if you need it at all.
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ASKER

I want to upgrade to 12.04 because 11.04 is no longer supported. I've stayed as long as possible with 11.04 because I don't like Unity. However - I prefer a machine with the development environment working for now. I have several development websites running on this machine, and I don't want to risk that setup until I have them running in a VM. Upgrading to 12.04 is the least risky, and I can get used to Unity I think. Plus that's an LTS version, supported for 5 years.
You have alternatives, like Linux Mint which is based on Ubuntu, but uses a much better GUI, or Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu etc.
what about my suggestion to downsize your partition, then image it?
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ASKER

I've tried to upgrade from 11.04 to 11.10 and that failed several times. Now I've decided to use a clean install. I've chosen Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, despite Unity, and I'm going to find out if it's too limiting or not.
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ASKER

Everything works now and I got the development setup working as well. After two days working with Unity at my work desktop, I can only say that I like it more and more. It takes a little time, but all in all I'm satisfied and at the moment it compares to gnome2 for me. I'm using keyboard shortcuts more and more, which is a good thing, and I just figured out how to create program shortcuts for programs that haven't done that properly, like Zend Studio for Eclipse. No reason to want to go back anymore!