I’m about to put a new hard drive and battery in my main laptop, a 2017 HP Envy 15.

Whenever I make a change like this, I like to be ready with backups, Linux install images on USB drives and whatever tools and parts I might need.

I’m not as worried about running into problems because I now have a very decent second computer — the 2011 27-inch iMac running Debian Buster — if the laptop isn’t ready right away, I’ll still be able to work.

I’m putting a 1 TB Samsung 970 EVO M.2 SSD in the laptop, and since the battery barely holds a charge, I will be changing it while I have everything opened up.

Very few laptops these days allow you to swap the battery without taking the bottom cover off. It’s not user-friendly at all because the rechargeable battery is the first thing to go on a laptop. Mine rarely last more than two years.

I’ve been inside this laptop before. A couple of years ago, I wanted to try an M.2 NVMe SSD in the HP after I discovered in its repair manual that there’s a slot for one on the motherboard.

At the time I didn’t want to invest a lot. I spent about $30 for a 250 GB HP-branded M.2 SSD. In order to get the laptop opened up, I had to remove the last remaining rubber-foot strip (the other fell off a year previously) to get at a few of the screws needed to get the bottom half of the case off.

This is a horrible design feature/flaw. It costs about $60 to replace the two rubber-foot strips. Instead, I used those little silicone-rubber circles that are sticky on one side that you buy at the hardware store.

Once I got the laptop, I inserted the M.2 SSD, secured it with its plastic screw, put the laptop back together and installed Debian Buster immediately.

It worked perfectly, and I’ve been using it that way ever since.

The only problem is that 250 GB is not enough space. I could probably get by with 500 GB, but since I’m not opening the laptop every week, month or year, I decided to match the laptop’s spinning hard drive (which I NEVER use) and get the 1 TB SSD.

So I’ll be pulling out a bunch of screws, putting in the new SSD and hopefully replacing the battery, which has a bad cell.

BEFORE I start, these are the things I need to have in place:

  • I need to make a full backup of my /home files. I have a drive ready. I need to run rsync to get everything up to date on the backup drive.

  • I also need a backup of my old 2012 HP Pavilion g6 laptop that runs Fedora. That laptop has a 640 GB spinning drive, and I was never able to transfer all the files to the 2017 HP laptop due to the small size of the current SSD. A big part of this project is getting all of my files on one laptop:

  • 2017 HP Envy /home backup

  • 2012 HP Pavilion /home backup

  • I need USB flash drives with install images for all the operating systems I might want to use:

  • Debian Bullseye

  • CentOS Stream 8

  • Ubuntu 20.04

I really don’t know exactly what I’m going to install, and it’s pretty much between Debian Bullseye and CentOS Stream.

  • For Debian I need a FAT-formatted USB flash drive with .deb packages of all the firmware I might need to use during the install:

  • firmware-linux

  • firmware-linux-nonfree

  • firmware-misc-nonfree

  • firmware-iwlwifi

  • firmware-realtek

  • firmware-intel-sound

That’s “all” I need. As long as I have the /home backups, I can deal with any issues that might crop up.

Next: Doing the backups