[K12OSN] Cloning drives, no network or compression

Scott S. ssh at tranquility.net
Sat Nov 29 08:45:40 UTC 2008

Terrell, you hit several nails right on the head, and gave me some good 

Terrell Prudé Jr. wrote:
> I've used dd to clone Debian boxes before, but in my case, it was to 
> identical hardware.  You're right in that dd does overwrite the entire 
> disk, MBR and all, provided that you use correct syntax, of course.  :-)

dd will clone any possible readable disk, even if the host OS can't 
mount it. For data recovery with possible bad disks, dd_rhelp: 
http://vaab.free.fr/utilities/dd_rhelp/index.en.html is great, it can 
reduce time by weeks from a dd clone with bad sectors.

> You have a true cluster-flock of a network.  IBM type 2?  I haven't seen 
> that in well over a decade.

Agreed, not my choice. It's legacy-ville all the way. Mission-critical 
servers have nice spiffy new things with big pipes, but not the old things.

> First off, to which MS 
> Windows would you convert? 

This scenario is my employment, and I am fortunate that my immediate 
boss has heard of Linux and is encouraging me. Above him, I have pointed 
out the TCO, and they just shrug it off as "the cost of doing business". 
I am a thorn in their side, and hopefully a wedge to FOSS.

> 1.)  Upgrade each of those boxes to *AT LEAST* 512MB DRAM. 

There is a limited subset of apps needed, and aside from slow loading, 
256 is acceptable so far.

> 2.)  Take a look at "preseeding" with Debian/Ubuntu. 

I did, for some time. I couldn't get everything to work like I thought 
it should.

> For EIDE disks (I'm guessing that's what type you have in these boxes), 

Yes, I did not mention there were no SATA or SCSI.

> yep, I always tell the BIOS to use LBA.  But if you do that, then make 
> sure that the box on which you made the original image also had its BIOS 
> set to use LBA. 

Aha, this was what caught my attention. Thank you very much! The very 
original start was a VMware instance, with the default generic Phoenix 
BIOS stuff. It started out as generating a bootable liveCD via 
remastersys. The problem there was that the original Ubuntu required 384 
meg to boot to liveCD, even when the completed install ran in 256 OK. It 
was very trimmed down, one desktop, no visual effects, etc. Adding 128MB 
of RAM to all the machines for install was a big slowdown.

I then used one of the fresh liveCDs to install to a 4 gig drive, 
initially thinking about using dd, and keeping it down to DVD size. 
After factoring in some realities about size, I knew that each of the 
destination machines would never install another app, never generate any 
local info, and email was all stored on the email server. I trimmed it 
down to the 2.6 gig size on the real physical 4 gig drive. Here's the 
punch line... I used default BIOS stuff on everything, both VMware and 
the physical drive. I may need to back up and check at the BIOS in the 
actual machine that had the 4 gig drive.

> What is the specific GRUB error that you're seeing?  The GRUB 
> documentation lists 34 possible error codes.

I will check it on Monday.

Scott S.

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