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easy swap of hard drives
#1
On an old Dell Inspiron I have 2 hard drives: One is old and flakey, and a new one. I have transferred everything from the old to the new one. I would like to reverse the device names( /dev/sda1 to /dev/sda2 and vice versa). Can this be done without actually opening the box and physically reversing the drives?

I currently must hit F12 before boot to change which drive to boot from.
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#2
No.
Your hardware detects devices and then lists them in that order.
if it really matters for some reason, just open the box and swap the physical location.

Your issue with Grub not working is another matter, perhaps it is installed on the other device.
Open the box, clean the fans and cooling fins, swap the drives.
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#3
Thank you, mexsudo. However, there is nothing wrong with grub. I boot by default from sda1. I can also boot by pressing F12, then selecting the second disk. I was apparently unclear. I was referring to what was required to boot from sda2 rather than sda1. It just now occurs to me that I can get the same effect by installing the same grub on both disks, and swap drives later.
Thanks again.
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#4
perhaps I was dense, again

sda1 is a partition on device sda, additional Partitions on the same device would be sda2, sda3, etc.
a second device (drive) would be sdb

I often install Grub on more than one drive, because sometimes I move them around or replace with another.
some machines are a real pain to move drives. Dell is one of my least favourite in that respect... but I am not a hardware guy, just a user.

sudo grub-install /dev/sda && sudo update-grub
replace with sdb etc as needed

best of luck
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