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I first heard about the Clonezilla project a while ago, while doing research into cloning/backup software. I never got a chance to do more with it besides learn the name, until recently that is. I got hold of a copy of the Live edition a week or so ago, and have been experimenting with it, learning how to use it and so on. There are 2 editions, the previously mentioned Live edition, and a server edition that is for large scale deployments ala Symantec Ghost Corporate. Both editions are completely open source, released under the GPL.

My main reason that I ended up playing with Clonezilla was to try and backup as well as clone a Smoothwall Linux firewall, which I had not been able to do with either Ghost or Acronis True Image. With either of those programs, after a clone or a restoration of the backed up image, the LILO boot loader would hang, and despite seeing some solutions on the net, I couldn’t get it working again. Clonezilla is basically a live Linux based utility, so I had hopes that it could do a better job than the commercial programs.

Using Clonezilla wasn’t all that hard, but I have to state flat out that the interface is basically text mode only. While it works and is functional, it is also terribly spartan, and can be confusing at times. I don’t know if this was intentional in the design or what, but this is where True Image takes the cake for ease of use. However, the plus side is that I was successfully able to clone and back up the Smoothwall, and I tested this by erasing the hard drive before restore, as well as restoring to a bigger hard drive. Even more impressive, the program was able to store the back up to a NTFS formatted drive, which is pretty much the norm if you work in a Windows world. Clonezilla is also supposed to be able to back up and clone NTFS drives, though I have not tested this myself yet.

Next on my list is to test out the server edition, and learn how to use that. That is a pretty complex system to set up, and you need a computer running Linux for the server, but that is a small price to pay. If I can get it properly set up, I will no longer need to use Symantec Ghost Corp in the future, which is a good thing, as Ghost only recognises certain file systems, whereas Clonezilla can do anything. It offers the same multicasting facillity, which works like a charm when doing more than one pc at a time.

Overall, if you a network admin or a pc tech that needs a good tool to back up data, you may want to look into it. The Live CD interface is ugly yet functional, which is what counts I guess. The server edition can save you license costs in a school or small business environment, all you need is some patience to set it up and test it out. Along with the Ultimate Boot CD for Windows, this is one tool I suggest every tech keeps in their cd wallet.

Check out http://www.clonezilla.org for more information and to donwload some software.


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