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Cloning a Linux Disk? (Alot of Laptops needs to be cloned...)


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#1
CamTheMan

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We are having to clone a disk to install Lunix on all 1400 or so laptops for out schools. We have no idea where to begin, or what important factors to know.

If anyone could help out I would really appreciate any at all.


Thank you,
Cam
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#2
Kemasa

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There are several ways that you can do this. One is a direct clone, by taking the disk out and attaching it to another system and copy the disk completely. This will take longer since it will also copy unused sections of the disk. You could restore the filesystems by creating the partition table and then restoring a backup to each partition.

Another way to to just reinstall the OS in each system. There are a couple of ways to do this, either by creating a boot CD or booting the machine from the network (boot CD is easier in some respects) and having an automated install (ie. kickstart, jumpstart, etc.). If the machines have a DVD reader, you can just put the whole OS on that and make copies and just install from that w/o the network or anything else.

So, it depends on which way you want to do it. Personally, I would not want to remove all the disks from the machine and if you create the DVDs, you can just give the machine and the DVD to the user and let them do it, which would also allow them to reinstall at any time if they needed to.

You can also make a DVD or maybe a CD with a dump of the filesystem and use something like DSL (50Mb version of Linux) or Knoppix and have a boot process to partition the disk and restore the filesystems. You should have it ask before installing, just in case someone puts it in a running machine.

The specifics depends on what version you are intending to use. Also, are all the machine identical? If there are any differences, you might have to do it as an install to deal with that.
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#3
Tyger

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This is an interesting project but you haven't given much information to go on. What version of Linux are you using, are the disks readily removable, for some laptops removing them is not easy, are the disks all the same size, and are the laptops all the same? What kind of timeline is involved, given the fact that you have 1400 of them?

There are versions which allow you to make a remaster of your system and run an automated install.
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#4
CamTheMan

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They are Dell laptops, not sure on the brand of the lunix yet,I do know these are student laptops kids in 7th grade to 12th grade security is a must. We have a DVD drive on them, however when the laptop is issued the student will not have it we are sing the drive to install the image then taking it out and replacing it with a battery.


Right now we are repairing them, next move (next month) is to start installing the images on each laptop.
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#5
CamTheMan

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I'll be cloning one computer, but installing that clone on about 1500 laptops. I just need a decent tutorial on how to cl;one the lunix drive since I am not good with commands and all that in Lunix.
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#6
Tyger

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Well get yourself and anyone else that is working on this, one working laptop to start testing on. Some Dell laptops do not go over well with some versions of Linux, also make sure you have enough memory to do the job. Some versions of Linux allow you to do something called remastering, which means making a new CD or DVD for installing from an image of the operating system. This sounds like what you need to do the job. Also you can do an installation from an external hard drive which may be even faster than a DVD, or you can put a fully installed OS in the external drive and transfer the image in the old fashioned way instead of an install.

The sooner you can start testing out distros and cloning the better. Problems will almost certainly need to be solved.
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#7
CamTheMan

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Thank you, we have about 1500 dell laptops here, UIbuntu is a possibly to use. But we just need to find out how to edit one laptop with Lunix on it, and clone it to another dvd or cd so we can install that image on all the other laptops so we don't have to make the same changes to each laptop.


We have bene testing for a while, we tried using CloneZilla,and B4U we are still trying as I type this... we all are lunix newbies...theres got to be an easier way.


Thanks again,
Cam

Edited by CamTheMan, 05 June 2008 - 11:10 AM.

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#8
Kemasa

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Are all of the disks the same? Are all of the laptops the same? It does make a difference.

If it is the same, you can attach an external disk to one of the machines, install the OS, boot with Knoppix and then use dump to save the filesystem to the external disk. Make a boot disk which re-partitions the disk and restores the dump to the partitions. If all the disks are the same, you can use dd.

If the machines are not the same, then you can make a custom boot DVD which has all the packages to install and which does any modifications you need at the end. The specific version depends on which Linux distro you use.

You can also do the install over a network. You would need to ensure that the the laptops can boot from the network and is set to boot from the network.

If you want to remove the disks, then you can attach them to one machine and copy them using dump/restore or dd. The problem with that is that it will take a lot of time and you will be limited to a few machines at a time. If you make a DVD, you can make many copies and do more at once.

More info is needed, specifically if all the machines are the same and if all the disks are the same. That determines some of the options available.
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#9
CamTheMan

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They are the same, we need the fastest way possible. Keep in mind we want to use Lunix on these systems we do have a external drive we can use, we jsut need a simple program to make the clone. The way I see us doing this operating is we cone the drive, make an image of it burn a couple disks and starting installing it on the machines. The trouble were having is getting the Lunix to make a clone of itself into a image file to burn to the disks.
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#10
Kemasa

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Install the OS to the laptop, shut it down and boot the machine with Knoppix and an external disk attached or remove the disk and install it on another system. Then for each filesystem, use the command "dump 0f ${FS} ${FS}.dump" This will save the data from each filesystem. You will need to copy the partition table and create the fileystems, so using dd is easier in many respects, but since it copies all the data, it will take longer.

If the disk is small, you can use "dd bs=64M if=/dev/hdX of=$FILE", then you can do the opposite on the boot CD.

You would need to mount the Knoppix ISO on a system so that you can modify the files you need to and add the data and add the start scripts so that it runs when it boots, then stops.
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#11
CamTheMan

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I'm a total Lunix newb, I've only used Lunix once. Could you go into more detail, and just to verify what exactly are we doing in your post?

Just to double back, I'm wanting to basically copy my installation of my Lunix to other Dell computers I have using an Image. So once we get into a image (iso) I can out it on a jump drive and onto my PC and I can burn it and make copies. I just want to make sure were on the same page before we go working on this.


Thanks for any additional help,
Cam
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#12
Kemasa

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How big are the disks? As I said, the easy way is to use dd to copy all of the data, but if the disk is 40Gb, it will mean that you will end up with a 40Gb file, which could be compressed perhaps, but that will make it take longer.

I detailed the procedures in my last post. It is difficult to document everything, so you might want to find someone who knows linux to assist you locally.

The first step is to install the OS and then access it when the OS is not running, which is why you need to either remove the disk or access it using a LiveCD.
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#13
CamTheMan

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Hi,

It's about 40 gb hdd, but I would think it wouldn't be that big since it's lunix. What's dd? Please note this is for students, I looked at Knoppix it's a live boot we do not want students to be able to boot intoa cd, we want to actually install the OS on the computer, this upcoming school year we will be removing the CD/DVD drives from the laptops only time we will use them is when we install Lunix on each laptop. Only thing I'm trying to learn is how to make a clone of one Laptop that has our customizations make a clone of that and burn it to a DVD and then install on other systems.

Edited by CamTheMan, 05 June 2008 - 07:55 PM.

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#14
silverbeard

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g4u (ghosting 4 unix) might be worth a look. I've seen it mentioned in other forums but haven't used it.
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#15
Tyger

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There is actually something called ghost4linux which might even be more along the lines of what you want. But one of the main things is to get a machine and start trying stuff with it. If you try doing everything at the last minute you will not meet your schedule.

Ghost 4 Linux

PS: I just checked G4L out and this is a very straightforward way of doing a network type install. A network install would be much faster than one from a CD or DVD drive. You would need to make the partitions first, all the same one every machine so that the FSTAB would be correct, then boot the GFL disk, which is pretty small and fast, and run the cloning process.

Edited by Tyger, 06 June 2008 - 05:41 PM.

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