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Windows Thread, Does such a tool exist? in Technical; Hi! We're an XP-running school and, sadly, we have a number of awkward to install/manage apps that don't play nicely ...
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    Does such a tool exist?

    Hi!

    We're an XP-running school and, sadly, we have a number of awkward to install/manage apps that don't play nicely with imaging in that these apps are registered over the net on a per-machine name basis. So, as it stands we have an image for these machines which we deploy when one goes titsup that includes everything but the awkward apps which we then have to install and configure separately- very annoying!! On top of that a number of these machines are away from the main site with no network to speak of and no technicians to hand. Hence, I was wondering if there may be program to put an end to our wonky windows woes.

    What I think would be ideal is that every machine would have a second recovery partition of 10GB or so. We would install Windows, all the normal apps + the awkward ones and fully configure everything. Once everything has been setup just as required I'd start the 'mystery app' (hopefully a free, open source one) and this would then create an image of the first partition onto the recovery partition as well as modifying the boot loader to add a new boot menu with a short time-out and a password-protected 'Restore from recovery partition' option so that the teachers can quickly and easily get the broke machines back on their feet without having to involve us (the IT staff, so long as its not a hardware failure and the boot menu still comes up, of course).

    I know I could just use any disc cloning software to image partition 1 onto 2 but the key point here is being able to restore from the 2nd partition very simply via a password-protected boot menu option and it would be a complete image restore - not some half-assed ASR thing.

    Anyone know what I'm looking for??
    Last edited by danboid; 23rd June 2009 at 04:25 PM.

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    Have you done a sysprep on the machine before you clone it?

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    sysprep, as I understand it, is used to 'genericise' images of Windows installs so that they can be depoyed via RIS or WDS- I can't see how this would help me as I want to create images specific to each machine that will reside on a special partition one each individual drive. These images would never be deployed on anything other than the machine on which it resides so why would I need sysprep?

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    contink's Avatar
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    I would have said drive snapshot would be useful as it's something you can run using command line but it isn't free..

    You could always contact the developer and see if they'd offer you a price or licensing terms based on your intended use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danboid View Post
    Anyone know what I'm looking for??
    I use SystemRescueCD for this. Split the disk into two partitions, install Windows on the first one and SystemRescueCD on the second, use the Grub bootloader to choose between the two (you can password-protect Grub to stop children tinkering). Modify SystemRescueCD's startup script to reimage the machine (use either partimage or DD) then reboot, done.

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  6. Thanks to dhicks from:

    JJonas (24th June 2009)

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    Do you have any imaging software in place? This could certainly be done very easily using ghost with a boot CD (or maybe a USB stick) with preset parameters.

    Have you looked at MS Steadystate (free) or Faronics Deep Freeze (not free)? Not quite what you're after, but on the right track.

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    not free again but acronis have some good products ( acronis true image ) can as per above use a bootable cd or usb memory device ( stick or ext hdd )

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    Thanks to everyone for all their suggestions but out of them all I think dhicks did the best job of extracting my desired localised image restore system from the ether. I do already use systemrescuecd for recovery purposes anyway, I've just never installed it and didn't think of using it for this purpose but now I see its a perfect match.

    I won't need to put as password on grub as long as I just have a decent root password and no other users on the sysrescue partition, and I know that partimage is reliable as I've been using it for a while via clonezilla. Speaking of cz, I'm going to try FOG asap and see how that compares to the latest drbl-live aka clonezilla server.

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    Quote Originally Posted by danboid View Post
    I won't need to put as password on grub as long as I just have a decent root password and no other users on the sysrescue partition
    I think possibly older versions of SystemRescueCD booted to a login prompt where you could enter root username and password ("root" and "toor" respectivly) but these days it boots straight to a root command prompt - you'll be wanting that Grub password. Your older version might do fine, but I've found the newer versions to be needed to boot on newer machines with fancy new hardware features. SystemRescueCD is remarkably up-to-date - a new version was out that worked fine on our new Dell desktops last year within a few days of me finding the old version didn't.

    Actually, even a "full" distribution like Ubuntu could be used - even that would only take a small portion of the average harddrive, and should boot on pretty much anything. You might also want to consider splitting the harddisk into four partitions - Windows, Windows data, Linux, Linux swap. That way you can point My Documents at a seperate drive, then you can re-image the machine and a user's files stay put. This comes in handy for setting up home systems, I imagine most schools redirect My Documents to the network anyway.

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    debian netinst

    I was all for going with sysrescue for this task but sadly sysrescue is still lacking a proper installer- you can fdisk, format, order/copy the files, write your own menu.lst before running the grub installer etc. to install it but there were more difficulties than that so I gave up on it. Great as a live recovery media but awkward for HD installs.

    It dawned on me that this was a perfect job for Debian netinstall. The only package I had to add to make it do exactly what I wanted was partimage. Debian netinstall with nothing added save partimage boots lighting fast- type I have 'fix' as an alias to the partimage command that restores a 10GB NTFS partition in as many minutes on an average modern laptop then reboots itself- laaaaaavely!!

    Last edited by danboid; 25th June 2009 at 08:00 PM.

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