I'm wondering what the best way is to go about installing two instances of Qubes 4.1 on the same machine, which are more or less independent of each other.

It's fairly easy to dual boot different OSes because they each have their own EFI directory, e.g. /boot/efi/EFI/{qubes,fedora,ubuntu}, but what happens when you want to dual boot two of the same OS? (Or two different releases of the same OS?)

My original thought was to just give each one its own directory in /boot/efi/EFI/, but the /boot/efi/EFI/qubes/ path seems to be hard coded somewhere, probably either in the grub2-efi package (which installs a precompiled efi binary to that directory) or in a grub2-install hook somewhere. Not sure which of those methods Qubes uses. At least, I couldn't figure out any way to persistently change the name of the EFI directory. Of course you could make your own directories by copying the files. e.g. /boot/efi/EFI/qubes{0,1}/, but when it updates (or you reinstall one of them), they would both try to install to /boot/efi/EFI/qubes/ again. And you'd have to manually change the path each time with efibootmgr.

My other thought is to give each instance its own EFI partition, /boot partition, and root partition. efibootmgr allows you to specify which partition, by index, the path resides on for a given boot menu entry. However it's technically out of spec to have more than one EFI partition on the same device and I don't know if UEFI implementations know how to handle multiple EFI partitions correctly. Additionally, since EFI partitions all use the same magic UUID, the OS wouldn't know which one to mount at /boot/efi, so they could easily get mixed up. I guess you could reconfigure /etc/fstab to mount based on partition number, e.g. /dev/sda1, /dev/sda4, but that brings its own set of problems. Nevertheless it seems like this might be the best option.

Another option is to uninstall grub on one of them, so that only one instance ever touches /boot/efi/EFI/qubes. And then write a custom grub.cfg with a menuentry for each instance. However I don't know how you'd prevent the installer ISO from trying to install a boot loader initially. A major reason for having two separate instances is so that I can reinstall one or the other from ISO without much trouble. So I don't want the installer clobbering my boot loader every time. Additionally you'd have to manually modify your grub config with the new UUIDs every time you reinstall.

I'm still new to UEFI systems so I don't know if any of these would work. Anyone have any ideas or insights? (Funny how UEFI redesigned the entire boot process, and it's still just as messy as it was before.)

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