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PC Cloning Solution? 115

pbaumgar asks: "Like many here on Slashdot, I'm a Systems Administrator. I have become responsible for maintaining about 300 laptops that I need to rebuild on a regular basis. I am looking for a solution to image them. I've been looking at Symantec's Ghost Solution Suite and am not too gung-ho on spending all that money for licensing. Can anyone recommend an better solution that would be cheaper?"
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PC Cloning Solution?

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  • Simple DD (Score:1, Interesting)

    by schnits0r ( 633893 ) *
    I've always been partial to DD []
    • dd for the win.
    • Re:Simple DD (Score:4, Informative)

      by Webmoth ( 75878 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @10:16PM (#14049213) Homepage
      While dd WILL make a perfect clone of a system, it is not the ideal solution for cloning systems (especially Windows) BECAUSE it makes perfect clones.

      The problem lies in that for every user, machine, account, group, domain, ENTITY in a Windows environment, there is a globally unique identifier known as a SID. When you clone a machine, you also clone the SID. When you've got two or more machines with the same SID on a network, you WILL have problems. Renaming the machine does not change the machine SID, and Windows knows things more by the SID than by the name. (Think about having two users in your Linux /etc/passwd file with the same UID.)

      Secondly, dd is not ideal because it does a bitwise copy. If you are cloning a badly fragmented disk, your clone will be badly fragmented. You'll also get all the cruft left behind from deleted files. Ghost can do a dd-like bitwise copy, but in its primary mode it only copies the extant files. If you've got a 120GB disk with only 5GB used, dd will copy 120GB of bits whereas Ghost will copy 5GB of files. Think of the time involved. If your new drive/partition is not the same as the old one, you can't reliably use dd.

      That being said, there are utilities available for changing the machine SID.
    • I've tried doing a DD image, with "dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdb bs=515" as well as using hda1 and hdb2. Both HDs were the same size, etc. But it was taking like 10 hours to do an image, this was a slowish 550 MHz machine, but each HD was on a different IDE interface, they weren't sharing the same. What was I doing wrong? I was booted off of some Linux Live CD, duping Win98.
      • What was I doing wrong?


        dd if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdb bs=515

        Use a bigger block size (a few megabytes at least - bs=4m) and performance will increase dramatically.

        • Yeah, retarded. Twas a typo. Never did 515, but I did try things between 512 and 1m. Didn't try anything really high like 4m... but thanks!
          • Also, before doing any data transfer (IDE drives only):

            ' hdparm -c1 -d1 -u1 /dev/hda ' and also for hdb or whatever the 2nd drive is connected as. Enables 32-bit, DMA and interrupts.

            I commonly use " bs=1M " in DD operations.
      • Re:Simple DD (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rpresser ( 610529 )
        Whyinhell would you use a block size of 515? Not only is it too small, it is neither a divisor nor a multiplier the sector size -- guaranteeing inefficient reblocking.

        Maybe IHBT.
      • Make sure that DMA is enabled - most rescue-type CDs don't enable dma and that slows things down *a lot*. hdparm -d 1 /dev/hda will probably help, you can do hdparm -i (or -I) and find out what the drive supports, and then specify a particular mode with -X ("hdparm -X udma33", for example).
  • Im not sure if the imaging server comes with zenworks for windows, but we use it with our novell servers and it works very well. It uses a tftp server to netboot a linux kernel. Very scriptable and flexable. Not sure about price though.
    • List price for Zenworks for desktops is $69/device, which is $.99 less then Ghost (at least, according to what their respective websites show). And, Zen can do a hell of a lot more then relativly simple/stupid bare metal imaging.
      • ...which would be a fair comparison if Ghost (assuming corporate edition, which is 39.20 per seat for 10-1000 licenses on Symantec's site, btw) could only do bare-metal imaging.

        The DeployCenter lets you get pretty sophisticated with picking and choosing application sets to install, etc.

        That said, I'd do a search on for "disk imaging" if cheap is the ultimate watchword, vs. capable.

  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:58PM (#14048080)
    That doesn't have the bullshit licensing agreement. Norton has effectively fsked themselves out of the clone market with their totally absurd licensing requirements.
  • G4U (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xunker ( 6905 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @06:58PM (#14048081) Homepage Journal
    G4U [], a unix based cloning tool.
    • Re:G4U (Score:5, Informative)

      by atomic-penguin ( 100835 ) <wolfe21@marshall.MONETedu minus painter> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:53PM (#14048401) Homepage Journal
      Ghost 4 Unix Pros:
      1) It's free.
      2) You don't have to start the cloning process over if one machine fails.
      3) Some versions of Norton Ghost do not catch the boot sector. This can be a problem when you want to have a boot loader on the MBR.
      4) It does an actual disk dump. No proprietary format here.

      Ghost 4 Unix Cons:
      1) In some cases, it is not fast. Hey, it's faster than piping this over a SSH connection.
      2) It doesn't do multicast, a benefit of Norton Ghost. Which lets you send the image out as a broadcast to all the machines.

      My experiences with Norton Ghost: The multicast feature can crash some networking equipment. There is nothing more annoying than getting 97% done and having to start over on one or all of the machines. Norton Ghost can bring a large network to it's knees. You may need to carry the Ghost server around with you. Especially if your network spans more than one building or floor.

      My experiences with Ghost for Unix: I setup an FTP server in the lab I was working in. There is no special server software, just a plain old FTP server. Dumped the master image on the FTP server. Started about 20 clients imaging. Go and grab a lunch or two. Come back and start any failed downloads later. It worked even on a dusty old switch known to crash with Norton Ghost. How cool is that?
      • Re:G4U (Score:5, Informative)

        by OnyxRaven ( 9906 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @08:32PM (#14048619) Homepage
        More Pros:
        -Just needs ftp or ssh or whatever you can connect with (ftp by default)

        More Cons:
        -uses DD for disk dump - this means if you have lots of empty space on a big disk it'll come over too, and likely, it'll be junk (making it hard to compress an image). the G4U site has some ideas on how to get around that.

        Recently I'm using FreeBSD, but my disks are slightly different between a few of the machines, so I'm using dump/restore and the livecd portion of disk1 of freebsd 5.4 (and now 6) to create the partition, ifconfig, then ssh/cat > restore on the new drive (then rename, rebuild host keys, etc). works like a charm.
      • Re:G4U (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jjeff1 ( 636051 )
        My experiences with Norton Ghost: The multicast feature can crash some networking equipment.

        It's not just you, but it's not really Ghost's fault. I deal with multicast quite a bit, not just ghost. Multicast can be a pain. If you have network gear that isn't multicast aware (impliments IGMP), then you'll be a sad panda when you fire up ghost in multicast mode. One of the issues Ghost does have is the entire multicast goes at the speed of the slowest PC. So if you have a dodgy disk in a PC, your whole imag
    • Re:G4U (Score:3, Informative)

      by eyeball ( 17206 )
      If you're doing windows cloning, you may want to look into this free NewSid Utility [] from sysinternals.
      • Re:G4U (Score:3, Informative)

        by nachoboy ( 107025 )
        If you're doing windows cloning, you may want to look into this free NewSid Utility from sysinternals.

        Except for the fact that doing so puts you squarely in unsupported territory. The only supported way [] to duplicate Windows boxes is by using Sysprep (also free and already included on your Windows CD).
        • Re:G4U (Score:3, Funny)

          by duffbeer703 ( 177751 )
          This is /. so we cannot recommend using Microsoft tools, even free ones. Even such logical approaches like using unattended installs (see are acceptable, because they do not involve Linux or arcane unix commands.
          • Re:G4U (Score:3, Insightful)

            by jshare ( 6557 )
            But we can freely recommend unattended installs ( see ) that *do* use linux, and arcane unix commands! (Well, ok, perhaps no arcane commands. Linux though.)

            Unattended is really nice for varying hardware. I used unattended in our lab at work, where we started out with quite a few different kinds of machines (imaging would have been nearly useless).

            It uses dosemu to run the win32 installer under linux (and then there are a few reboots for the windows installer). It is sweet to w
        • Where I work we have been using NewSid for years, with no issues. It gets loaded on every Windows workstation whether or not we initially intend to clone it.

          We also use partimaged and a custom shell script for our cloning. Build a box, grap the boot sector, the partition table, and use partimage (the client) to upload an image of each directory.

          Then use a rescue CD on a blankbox, download the custom script and run it. Writes out the partition table, drops in the boot loader, and lays the image onto the n
  • Wh ynot Ghost (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Goyuix ( 698012 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:02PM (#14048103) Homepage
    Assuming you are imaging the laptops with Windows, I can't imagine you having to image a linux laptop as often for some reason or another...

    Anyway, back in the day I got a free copy of Ghost with my motherboard. Now that they are completely owned by the Symantec umbrella, they are probably quite a bit more expensive, but I bet you can still get a single-user burn-to-a-dvd-with-the-image for relatively little. If that is to expensive, then go learn DD or some of the more advanced techniques that I am sure will pop up all over this board. Why buy the total solution when you aren't really going to use it anyway? Also, if you are in a windows environment, perhaps their RIS Server product would do what you need as well? Can the laptops boot from the network?
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:03PM (#14048113)
    was this so hard? []
    • Acronis is the Shit. But I dont know about their licensing terms.

      RIS for Windows is also the shit.
      • I would agree. Back when I was a Windows user ..(now a Mac).. I had made several attempts to make a working image with Acronis. This was a late 2004 release I was using and had patched. Having two identical drives (manufacturer and size) I tried to restore the image (to make sure it works). Only after making 3 attempts at an image did it actually work.

        DriveImage by PowerQuest is a great program.
        • I would agree.

          FYI, " the shit", as used by the grandparent, is the opposite of what you seem to mean, which is " shit."

          Curiously, "flammable" and "inflammable" are still synonyms.

    • was this so hard?
      As I've mentioned in the past, Slashdot is a community. Asking a question isn't as serf-serving as "googling" for the answer.

      By asking the question, people that are interested in the topic may find out an answer something and those with no clue may learn something. Otherwise those individuals may never have bothered looking it up.
  • Just buy your back up hard drive from a major manufacturer like Maxtor, Western Digital, Seagate, etc. Many of these companies have hard drive imaging software on their site for free to transfer the contents of any hard drive to their hard drive.

    Not a perfect solution because you would need to buy a spare hard drive for every laptop, but it's free.
  • Why Imaging? (Score:5, Informative)

    by fdragon ( 138768 ) <fdragon&fdragon,org> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:15PM (#14048187) Homepage
    System imaging solutions such as Symantec Ghost are good solutions for most people, but are not always the right solution.

    What may be a good solution that is adaptive to your needs is this solution : []

    Combine this with a good method for getting a PXE boot setup (and devices that support the feature) and you will be able to create a menu that will allow you to automate system installs of Windows, Linux, and possible other systems, plus installing their related applicaton software later.

    With this setup you can do system installs for any type of hardware that comes your way. Laptop vendor change the network card chipset without bothering to change the spec sheet? No problem, just add the driver to the above build instructions and life goes on.
    • Another idea along the same lines. Use NLite to get a good basic install of WinXP with SP2 and post-SP2 patches slipstreamed. This can be fully unattended. Personally, I leave the computer name field blank. During the install, the only thing I have to do is partition the hard drive and then fill in the computer name. []

      Once you have the laptops up and running, log into your domain and allow the Active Directory system to push additional software to the laptops. You can configure AD
      • I'll second that. I use nlite to slim down the OS and slipstream the patches for VMWare images. The lighter the footprint, the more RAM I have free for other things. For making a base win32 install without the faf, works great.
    • Look at clonezilla ( []). Meant for this only.
    • If you're even considering imaging, please don't. Try unattended []. It may take a week or two and a few dozen trial installs but once you get the hang of it you will never want to go back to imaging.

      Look at it this way. With unattended, you can assign different profiles to different computers, and they can inherit from each other. Say one group needs x apps, another group needs y apps, and another groops needs x y and z. With unattented that can all be maintained with three very small batch scripts. Wit
  • []

    I have successfully imaged ext3 volume sets, NTFS disks, and NetBSD disks with this tool. In spite of what you might think, it actually is quite fast and the drive images are relatively compact.

    The key is to have a gigabit network at hand, if you can, and to have relatively modern hardware across the board.

  • I like to use "gzip hda2.gz" to back up a partition, but before I do that, I mount it, "dd if=/dev/zero of=mountpath/zero", sync, "rm mountpath/zero", and unmounting it before that to attain the smallest image file possible. Of course, this needs to be done from either a Live distro or from a secondary install. I have my Linux on 8GB, and my image is about 1.5 GB.
  • Between a creating a slipstream windows xp cd and something like unattended [] you should be good to go.
  • I'm a system administrator for a network that includes a large number of windows boxes using samba as a domain controller. We use ghost (the old free version, I believe). Every few months we put out a new template for each hardware type we have and then ghost each machine, room by room. This takes an insane amount of time, and upgrading machines is a pain. Anybody got a better solution?
    • Yikes.

      Get Patchlink or some similar network application that can perform remote installs/upgrades from a central server.

      The only time you should have to reimage a system is when installing new hardware or to recover a system that is too far gone to fix. Reimaging shouldn't be used for incremental upgrades. As you've noticed, it takes way too much time and effort.
    • Where can you get this old free version of Ghost?
  • Knoppix + partimage (Score:3, Informative)

    by Florian ( 2471 ) <> on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:32PM (#14048302) Homepage
    I have excellent experiences with partimage. It creates image files of both Windows (FAT & NTFS), Linux and *BSD partitions, compressing them with gzip/bzip, optionally breaking them down to fixed size segments (for CD-R/DVD-R backups). It also can save and restore file system image via the net through partimaged, an optional file server.

    Since partimage is contained on every Knoppix CD, the easiest and cheapest solution is to boot your computer with Knoppix, save the file system image either to a local disk or over the network to another computer running partimaged.

    • I'll second the recommendation for partimage, its great for Linux systems.

      But if you're using any Windows systems with NTFS, you should know that NTFS support for partimage is still in the experimental stage. This is according to the Partimage website []. To quote them:

      The NTFS (Windows NT File System) is currently not fully supported: this means you will be able to save an NTFS partition if system files are not very fragmented, and if system files are not compressed. In this case, you will be able to save

      • We have been cloning NTFS partitions for over a year using Partimage and have had ZERO problems with them. It may be experimental, but it friggin' rocks when you can't afford/don't need Ghost.

        Having said that, having a custom schell script to help automate the partitioning and such using partimage really helps a lot. "./ " gets us a complete client image for our workstations (dual boot RHEL3/Win2K) in about 10 minutes on a 100mb LAN after booting from a Linux rescue CD.
    • I used to help out on my daughters school. I set up a simple script and NTFS image using partimage. We used it for about 80 win2000 computers. We never had any problems with the NTFS support of partimage. The parimage documentation says it is experimental, but that if an image is created succesfully, the restore should always work. I guess it helps if your system where you make the image from is reasonably clean (defragmented and such).

      I didn't use Knoppix, but a command-line based bootable Linux (Linux res
  • What about RIS? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jarod670 ( 667823 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:33PM (#14048307)
    If you have a Windows Server 2000 or Server 2003 environment, what about RIS? Once you get it set up, I think it is much faster than ghost for pulling images down, plus you don't have to worry about SIDs. Plus the big bonus it's FREE.
    • <fineprint> in beer.</fineprint>

      Being serious now, RIS is slick if you can get it set up properly.
    • Re:What about RIS? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by obeythefist ( 719316 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @09:07PM (#14048803) Journal
      I've worked in large scale corporate environments (400+ workstations) configured for RIS and there's no equivalent. You can dynamically add/change/update images. You can roll in patches for the heck of it in a matter of moments. You never need to worry about where your install media is, you just press F12 and you have a new SOE image on the workstation. You never have to burn off new copies of your install media because it's all live. The admin who set up RIS also set up a diagnostic boot using the RIS network boot that loaded disk recovery tools and so on from the RIS server. The cost of RIS is included with the Windows server license (so yes, beer free) and the ongoing costs will be lower as your updates will cost you less in terms of build media and so on.

      • See unattended for an open source project with all these features as well as some good community support & the ability to integrate with a build/update system that actually does more than Windows.

      • I've worked in large scale corporate environments (400+ workstations) configured for RIS and there's no equivalent.

        Maybe you meant to qualify that, ie with "for Windows".

        Since, all the major linux distros support this, all you need is a DHCP server and a TFTP server, and pxelinux, all of which ship with any distro.

        We deploy all our Linux servers this way, including deploying all software required on the server (dependant on its role), hardending and configuration, so that it is ready for production on first
  • I've cloned a lot of Linux boxes with plain ol' dd. I had a script that mounted the HD, ran dd, then did a sed search and replace on things like, username, hostname, DNS servers, etc..

    You're probably cloning windows whose config files are not as simple as those in unix but there are still a lot of tools out there that can help (e.g. openldap commands for manipulating Active Directory, adding new users, etc.).
  • Partimage (Score:5, Informative)

    by sybarite ( 566454 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:34PM (#14048312) Homepage
    Try partimage ( [] . It doesn't have all the management tools like remote imaging, certificate security, etc, but I routinely use partimage from a Knoppix CD to clone Windows machines. Once cloned you can change the sid using newsid.exe from Sysinternals ( mage.html []).

    If you want to get really creative, maybe you could put a small linux partition on the systems that you can boot to for this purpose. Or maybe you could make a bootable system restore CD. Here is a faq to get started: age.html [].
  • For Windows (Score:3, Informative)

    by N1ghtFalcon ( 884555 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:35PM (#14048315)
    If the whole thing is windows-based look into RIS. It's a pain to configure properly, but it is more flexible and once you get a hang of it it's quite convenient.
  • G4U (Score:1, Redundant)

    by el_jake ( 22335 ) [] helped me when ghost failed on my laptop.
    A supertool without doubt.
  • Why reimage? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nathanmace ( 839928 )
    We use Ghost 8 where I work for rolling out new machines. It's a lifesaver when we replace a lab (I work in Higher Ed). However once the machines are in the lab, we "freeze" them with Deep Freeze. Unless the hard drive fails we never have to reimage them again. I don't know how the pricing for Deep Freeze will compare to the pricing for Ghost, but if you don't have to reimage them, don't. The URL for Deep Freeze is []
    • Amen, I am also at a college, and this has saved my tired little soul... Too many college textbooks contain CD's that have old versions of Authorware, and require Admin rights.. (newsflash to publishers!!! not many schools use Windows 95 and 98 anymore!). So, I setup everyone with admin rights, and freeze them.. Well worth the price any way you look at it. I have gone from spending huge amounts of time and bandwith reghosting machines that had crap installed to only ghosting once a term to make sure they
      • Two things. First, do you notice a problem with systems hanging frequently using deepfreeze? (I've only seen this happen with the network managed version, the standalone installs seem to work fine for some reason)

        and, it looks like you've already found your own solution, but you know that you can usually install the software and then remove the admin rights, right?
        • It depends on the software. Some of the stuff we use in the labs require admin rights to run properly. Deep Freeze also makes IM, spyware, popup windows, etc a non-issue. We have the enterprise version. The machines reboot every night at 3 AM or so, which means students using them the next day always have a clean machine. I'd had Windows images go wonky from lots of things, but I don't think I've ever had it start AFTER being frozen when it wasn't already doing before we froze them.
  • Use a LiveCD of Knoppix or similar? Then provide USB keys for document storage, or network drives?
  • by Jjeff1 ( 636051 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @07:49PM (#14048389)
    Not cheap. But it lets us create a hardware independant disk image and deploy it remotely to PCs. I believe it has some Linux support, but is mostly a windows product. It gathers hardware inventory on most any coporate level machine (including serial numbers). We can also build remote install packages to deply software and settings after images have been created.
    While it keeps track of all the packages and images deployed, it doesn't automatically restore everything.
    CA also has a similar product, it doesn't deploy images, only the windows unattended install stuff. However in addition to keeping track of packages, it will automatically redeploy them. Useful for when a HDD dies. You start the base image deployment, CA takes care of everything done since then.
    Both packages support PXE boot and Wake On Lan. So you can remotely boot up a bare metal machine and get it operational.
    These are pretty large programs, you'll want to talk to a sales person at those places and get a demo. Even if a demo is available, get them to demo it to you, you can't hope to learn the stuff in a couple days on your own.
    • I want to second this. The product isn't perfect, but if you're using primarily Windows machines with a lot of older machines in the mix, it works quite well.

      Why older machines? If your machine doesn't support PXE, they have a solution which allows you to WoL boot up your machine and then switch over to a hidden drive image (the software manages switching between your OSes and its hidden drive image OS), which then allows you to image a machine as if you had PXE support. It's nice if you work for a school w
  • Easy.. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Creepy Crawler ( 680178 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2005 @08:29PM (#14048605)
    Id use a mounted filesystem and use dd to copy an image to the other networked machine. Just use the following to copy your hard drive...

    dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/your_hard_drive bs=512

    And then, you can run netcat from the tun device

    nc -i tun0 > /remote_computer_mount_point/

    Be aware, your mileage may vary.
    • A better idea would be to use partimage []. It doesn't image bytes that are unused, or not used by files, so your images are much smaller. Using dd, a 40GB disk would result in a 40GB image. Using partimage, it works out to about a 4 gig image. It's very effective, and it's bootable on a cdrom.

    • Just a bit of warning for Linux newbies.

      >dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/your_hard_drive bs=512

      Don't try this at home kids! If you want to find out why, try

      man urandom

      And know this: if=input file, of=output file
  • Etherboot ( []) + ThinStation ( /ThIndex [])

    Then start hacking your Thinstation dist around. Easy to maintain over time (just upload new Thinstation images). Write a quick shell script to ftp down an image off a server and use dd. The user could pick an image or alternatively use some hardware identifier (using lspci, etc.) to automatically pick one for a user.

    Another idea would be to use a floppy-disk based Linux dist which does ef
  • As a system administrator I volunteer to maintain several labs at a local private school. About once a month I have to updated or install new programs on these lab computers. I just sit down on one, clean it up, update, and ghost an image to a server. Ghosting takes about 15-30 minutes to make a new image. I then boot up the lab with floppy disk and ghost back out to the lab. I take the floppy disk out and leave. I have setup several scripts so the computers will automatically rejoin the domains, chan
  • Mondo [] is a extremely impressive product. It does what you want. If you don't like Ghost images, use Mondo Rescue. If you wanna do filesystem-based incremental backups, use BackupPC []. Stupid name, but truly enterprise-ready(tm).
  • Go with unattended setups. You can add the drivers for all the hardware available, and you can plugin MSI to install additional software. If you have some software that has no MSI setup, you can build your own from a fresh install (see Microsoft documentation).

    Plenty of documentation is available on the Microsoft website and there is no extra licensing.
  • At an old job where most computers had removable hard drives we used a commercial hard drive duplicator. Instead of a master image, we'd use a master hard drive.
  • Phoenix (the BIOS maker) has software that keeps the backups securely on the machines. Here's the link: a tions/Phoenix+FirstWare/FirstWare+Recover+Pro/defa ult.htm []

    Lenovo (formerly IBM) OEMs this into all it's thinkpads. Theirs is linked to that "blue one touch restore button". I am a bid specialist for PC Mall, and I can get you in touch with one of our reps if you want. For 300 licenses, you should be able to get a volume discount.
  • I use EMC Dantz Retrospect, Which backs up our notebooks, desktops, and servers, all with snap shot imaging. Check them out [] I haven't been let down yet. We recently lost a SBS 2003 to a hacker, and recovered it without problems, SBS, Exchange, and SQL Server. Retrospect is a life saver.
  • One program frequently found on covermount CD's is Acronis True Image [] (I know, 'cause I put it there :), which is much better than Ghost, even in the covermounted version. It understands Linux partitions, is very fast, and writes directly to CD/DVD's and network shares. The latest and biggest version ($49, IIRC) does incremental backups, quite cool. And it's fast. I've seen a fresh Windows install being backed up in just 17 seconds! (hard drive to hard drive).

    I didn't scrutinize their license agreement WRT

  • How funny. I read through this site often to keep up on the industry, and its refreshing to see my product Recover Pro being mentioned. Unlike typical network backup strategies where a full system restore could take an hour or more, Recover Pro can restore a machine to a static image in under 12 minutes. Not to knock backup software like Retrospect (My personal favorite as well) They play a part in the overall data security for a company. Recover Pro needs no network to run, No CDs and you will never have
  • If you can afford it, a commercial solution from IBM, LanDesk, or Acronis is probably going to be easier to administer. But if your like me, your on a tight budget and don't mind using free stuff that takes some massaging.

    If your deploying Windows, then I would suggest you use M$'s free (as in beer) solution, Automated Deployment Services: []

    I've used this in my lab for cloning Windows 2003 instances. It's a PXE/tftp based solution. It works very similarly to IBM's RDM, LanDesk, e
  • Ok, so for 300 licenses you're looking at spending about $5,790 which works out to around $20/license. That's not that bad considering how much time it'll save you and exactly what you get, and you may be able to get it cheaper. I get Ghost licenses for $15ea through CDW-G because I work at a high school. You may want to check with a reseller to see if you can get a break on licensing.

    Next to RIS I don't think there's any solution that'll roll out a Windows install with programs, updates, automatically

  • You'll probably see only 10% of those machines in each month, peak, unless something catastrophically infests your network. That's 1.5 per day. Well, actually.. Figure four on Monday, and three spread over the week. They always catch something and need a reinstall after a weekend.

    You can probably handle that with a manual cloning process if the cloned image doesn't change too often and the machines carry DVD ROM drives in them. Clean install to a spare machine (there are some ways described elsewhere in thi
  • Debconf 5 video archive [] has a video [] about Fully Automated Install, FAI really is impressive it does a full installation which taks a bit more time but it's alot more flexible than using Partition Image.

    I use a 10GB partition with 5GB of data which Partition Image does in 3min, the exact same thing is done in 10min with FAI. On the other hand with FAI it is very easy to keep the image up to date, which is a very tedious process with Partition Image. Also growing filesystems aren't really that wasy in Linux

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.