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Use Clonezilla Open Source Imaging Software – an ICTworks Tech Tip of the Day

By Andris Bjornson on November 22, 2010
As anyone who’s participated in a deployment of computers larger than 5 or 10 knows, imaging software is key to quickly rolling out large numbers of identical machines.

Many commercial options like Norton Ghost exist, but with a USD 70 price tag for the personal version and USD 500+ for enterprise features, they’re not well suited for the small budgets of ICTD deployments.

Inveneo’s imaging solution of choice has long been the Taiwanese open source project Clonezilla.  Clonezilla is feature rich with a clean UI, and has good (if not poorly translated) documentation.

Clonezilla automates a number of complex imaging tasks, and can handle a wide variety of OS and partition types from FAT/FAT32 (Microsoft Windows) to ext3/ext4 (Linux) and more.

In the Inveneo engineering lab, we run Clonezilla SE (server edition) because we do such a wide variety of imaging.

In the field, however, it’s much handier to use Clonezilla Live (a version of clonezilla that boots from a CD or USB thumb drive).

If you go the CD route, check out PartedMagic instead of the standard Clonezilla LiveCD.  It bundles Clonezilla with the popular GParted graphical partition editor.  This allows you to perform a huge variety of imaging, backup, and restoration tasks.

Inveneo has found small form factor PCs like the eeeBox and the Fit2 are well suited for rural, low-power deployments.  These PCs, however, don’t have room for a built-in CDrom.  It’s possible to use an external drive, but that’s just one more piece of equipment to lug to the field.

The better option is to put Clonezilla Live on a bootable USB stick.  This is a relatively simple process, with easy instructions on the clonezilla website.  You’ll likely want to use the Ubuntu, rather than the plain Debian based install for compatibility with the widest range of hardware.

One important note:  When using a bootable USB drive clonezilla install with the Inveneo R4 server, be sure to set the BIOS option “USB Mass Storage Emulation Type” to “All Fixed Disk” instead of “Auto” to ensure proper detection of the bootable USB drive.  You’ll find this option in the system BIOS by pressing F2 at boot and pressing the right arrow a few times to select the BOOT menu.

Happy Imaging!


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Since graduating from Northwestern University with a Physics degree, I have helped build long-distance nonprofit WiFi networks as a volunteer in Nepal, managed communications-hardware deployments for the U.S. Department of State, created a high-volume image archive system for an A-list advertising photographer, and helped tell the story of landmine survivors through documentary multimedia. This multi-disciplinary career path has been my attempt to blend passions for technology, creativity, and global involvement. Outside of work, I am an avid photographer and I try to spend as much time as possible getting to the top of tall things by boot, bike, climbing harness, or ice axe.
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