Monday, December 31, 2007

Clonezilla

If you're a system admin, charged with deploying workstations, likely you have need of a cloning system. In the Windows world, that system is predominantly Symantec Ghost. Perhaps you're like me and have noticed how much a pain in the backside Ghost is. Specifically, it can be difficult to set up a bootable image with the right network drivers for your hardware. Also, Ghost is notorious at hanging when one client fails to participate properly in the multicast deployment.

In walks DRBL (Diskless Remote Boot in Linux). Essentially, DRBL allows you to remotely boot an entire Linux OS across the network. The useful possibilities that offers are quite extensive. But the use I'm highlighting here is what DRBL calls "Clonezilla". Using open source NTFS tools, DRBL in Clonezilla mode allows you to take a snapshot of a partition or entire disk and then multicast that out to many clients. The advantage of doing this in Linux is the modularity of its kernel and support for a wide range of hardware, all in one easily distributable system.

It can take a bit of skill to get DRBL set up correctly, but once you do, the advantages over such a narrow and closed piece of software as Ghost make the effort well worthwhile.

--
JH

1 comment:

David said...

Clonezilla is a very powerful open source tool for imaging compared to Norton Ghost Corporate Edition which I have used in the past. This does everything plus more in comparison. Unlike Norton Ghost it is not as simple to setup, but the online instructions are well outlined and easy to follow. This is important because of the many available configuration options included in this advanced software. Clonezilla is a perfect alternative to other imaging solutions for you hard disk based appliances because it is powerful, flexible and of course free!

- DR