Recovering remote NT/W2K/XP desktops with a network boot CD/DVD

by admin on April 27, 2006 07:46pm

re: Welcome to Kishi's Korner
Monday, April 17, 2006 8:04 AM by Les Kobiernicki

When can we expect to see M$ produce a composite Win/Linux real boot recovery CD/DVD like Bart PE & Ultimate Boot CD for Win ?  I have many legacy systems to keep up & running til we get the scheduled Tech Refresh that gets put back further & further.  A network boot CD/DVD with multicasting server ability to recover remote NT/W2K/XP desktops would be most helpful.  The answer is not necessarily always new technology, but more precisely targetted troubleshooting tools for what we already have deployed out there ..

If you are looking for a good Open Source solution for Imaging and recovery one way to do this is by using:  g4u (Ghost for UNIX) . Based on NetBSD, G4u is a bootable floppy/CD for cloning and imaging hard disks and partitions.

If you have a mixed environment, which most of us do, you might wonder what file or operating systems it can handle.  The answer is all of them. G4u reads the disks bit by bit starting with byte #0. This includes any MBR, boot record, partition table and the partitions themselves.  G4u can as easily clone a Windows XP disk as a Linux or Solaris/X86 disk. By moving the hard disks to a PC, g4u can even deploy or image operating systems for non-PC based SCSI machines such as HP-UX, Solaris, Irix, and AIX. You can image a drive or partition locally, IE disk to disk, or have the image uploaded to an ftp server. The cloned images can be compressed to save space, however the compression isn’t nearly as good as some of the commercial alternatives so make sure your ftp server has plenty of space!  If space is a concern, be sure to check out the FAQ on G4u’s website.

Here is a quick example.  I recently imaged my Fedora Core 5 laptop to a local ftp server here in my office. 

Once I booted my laptop up with the g4u CD, I was at the main menu and the command prompt.


The laptop only has one hard disk. I used the ‘disks’ command to see it.

g4u> disks

wd0: at atabus0 drive 0: <FUJITSU MHT2060AT PL>

wd0: drive supports 16-sector PIO transfers, LBA addressing

wd0: 57231 MB, 116280 cyl, 16 head, 63 sec, 512 bytes/sect x 117210240 sectors

I wanted to image the IDE disk (wd0) to my ftp server ( using the ftp account ‘images’. I typed the following command. 

g4u> uploaddisk images@ fc5laptop.gz wd0

I entered in my password when prompted.

This took a while on a 100MB connection, a couple hours or so.  I think I went and got coffee while it was running. Ok, so now on my ftp server I have the file fc5laptop.gz.

$ ls –l
-rw------- 1 images images 20259936597 Apr 18 12:18 fc5laptop.gz

To recover the image I booted again with the g4u CD and at the command prompt typed:

g4u> slurpdisk images@ fc5laptop.gz wd0

Again I entered my password for the ftp server when prompted and went for coffee (anytime is a good time for coffee J )

After about an hour my laptop was restored. I ejected the g4u cd and rebooted.

G4u doesn’t try to do everything but what it does do, it does very well.

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