FOG cloning software
I have spoken of the Clonezilla software a few times now on my blog, and to put it in a few words, I was impressed with the features and power but not so with the interface. I’m not a huge command line junkie, and Clonezilla seemed to be taking that to extremes.
Enter a product called FOG. The website is here, where you can find out some more information. FOG stands for Free Open Ghost, though it seems that the project prefers to be called FOG. The package is available under the GPL v3, so it will always be open for change and improvement. Currently it works on Fedora and Ubuntu Linux. You can run it on CentOS as well, and my colleague at work has gotten it set up under pure Debian.
FOG doesn’t quite clone the same number of filesystems yet that Clonezilla can, but since they appear to be using many of the same base tools, I can’t imagine it will be too long before FOG offers the same and more. It also has the crucial multicast facility, which is a must when trying to deploy an image to multiple computers. FOG uses a MySQL database mainly for the web interface, with some parts used for information about the storage. It’s a smart move, and leads to the ability to manage computers long term.
One of FOG’s great features it the web management interface it offers. This alone instantly puts Clonezilla to shame, and in many ways it also puts the Ghost Corporate console to shame as well. I don’t have screenshots to show here yet, but when I do I will put them in a new article. It’s written in PHP5 and looks quite modern and clean, though it does feel a little sluggish at times (happens on all browsers I tested with). Some layout issues are about the only other thing that hinders the interface.
You are able to create and manage your clients, images and other normal cloning features. Where FOG really goes the extra mile though is that you can also boot up the workstations to do an inventory using udev, virus scan with ClamAV, wipe the hard drives, check hard drives for faults and more. Strictly speaking these are not necessary for a cloning product, but in many ways it makes a lot of sense to have them there.
There is also a Windows client that can run on the target computers that does things like printer installations, reboot computers if there is a task waiting and other things I haven’t yet discovered. It can also apparently join the machine to Active Directory, though that again is untested by myself.
In some actual usage tests today, FOG ran well but had some issues with how it needs to be set up. The image directory, /images, needs to be in the same partition as the /, or FOG doesn’t seem to work right. All minor quirks one discovers as you use the software.
In closing, I highly recommend this piece of software out, and I believe that as it matures more, it will become invaluable to any network admin who needs such software.