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Old 10-27-2008, 04:44 AM   #1
Registered: Nov 2001
Location: Manchester, UK
Distribution: Mageia
Posts: 782

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Make exact copies of dual boot laptop HDDs to identical laptops?

I have ten new identical laptops with 80G HDDs that have come with Vista. I have made one dual boot with Mandriva and would like to identically copy that hard drive to the other nine laptops so I don't have to keep going through the issue of resizing with qparted, installing Mandiva, installing my embedded Linux BSP and dping all the updates to Mandy 2008.1.

Now, I think that what I want is something like G4L or Clonezilla. However, having trawled around all I can really find are instructions on how to save partitions and compress them.

So, I have a few specific questions that don't seem obvious to me from reading up.

1. Am I right in thinking that each parition (eg sda1, sda2 etc) are made into separate images?

2. Whether or not my guess for question one is correct, bearing in mind the HDDs on the other nine laptops currently have Vista on them:

a. Do this other nine need to have their hard drives wiped?
b. Do they need to be formatted identically to the master laptop? (I would hope not as I would assume Linux can't format NTFS).
c. Am I trying to do something impossible?

I always assumed that programs like this just copied a master HDD at a very low level, but am not so sure after having read around!

Many thanks.
Old 10-27-2008, 05:29 AM   #2
Junior Hacker
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Registered: Jan 2005
Location: North America
Distribution: Debian testing Mandriva Ubuntu
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You can use a simple tool called dd to make exact copies of drives/partitions from one to another. It does a bit for bit copy using the default 512 BS count.

Normally Vista is registered to only one computer. Windows product activation keeps track of 10 items, like the unique mac address of the network card, serial number of the processor, ram amount and type, etc. Therefore you should not do an entire drive image unless you track down the product keys of every machine and re-activate them after booting the imaged drive, because each product key is only good for one machine. It may be best to just re-size the existing Vista partitions and clone the Linux partitions.
There may also be issues with addresses from one machine to the other that will confuse cloned operating systems.
A: Hard drives don't need to be wiped, but it doesn't hurt to keep it clean for the sake of discouraging possible snoops at the very least, and will remove root kits that are hidden in slack space and the likes.
B: When using imaging tools like dd or bootitng, you simple create the same size partition and don't worry about formatting. But if your utility wants to format when creating a partition then go ahead and format it to what seems appropriate. When writing an image to a partition, the format information is part of the image and the format your utility created will be overwritten.
C: No
Old 10-27-2008, 05:44 AM   #3
Registered: Nov 2001
Location: Manchester, UK
Distribution: Mageia
Posts: 782

Original Poster
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Thanks, JH. The Vista licence issue had never occurred to me; I've had almost no exposure to the OS and it sounds like they have tightened things up since I last used Windows. All the laptops we have carry legitimate copies of Vista, so this is yet another example of Microsoft just making people's lives difficult. I am so glad I hardly ever dip my toes in the Redmond waters any more.

From trawling around LQ I had seen many people say don't use dd for clonng, so had not looked closely at this possibility.

In all honesty, I am still not sure about the mechanics of how this works, but from what you have said, I think it will be as quick just to do it all manually and simply not bother with the updates for 2008.1 as these machines won't be connected to networks, they are just training machines.

I will still have to boot Knoppix and exactly resize the HDDs for each machine if I just copy Linux over and the learning curve for nine more machines sounds like it is more trouble than it's worth.



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