Home > Computer Hardware, Software > Getting a Clonezilla server running

Getting a Clonezilla server running


In one of my previous posts here, I spoke of the open source cloning software Clonezilla, used on a single computer. I also mentioned that I was planning to get the server edition up and running so that I could use it to replace the aging Ghost 8 Coporate Edition I’ve become used to.

I got hold of a copy of OpenSUSE 11.1 and used that as my test platform, though I did have the older 10.2 around as well. To get the Clonezilla server running, it turns out that you actually need to get a DRBL server up first. DRBL stands for Diskeless Remote Boot in Linux and basically acts as a kind of thin client server. This confused me quite a bit, as I expected the Clonezilla server to be a package on it’s own and not to be part of something else, but it makes sense in a way.

I got the DRBL rpm file, installed it, and then got a bit lost. It took me a long time to properly read and understand the instructions provided online, and even then, things didn’t go all that well, perhaps due to my impatience. Using the default online method didn’t work in OpenSUSE for me, although it worked fine in Debian 5 for my colleague at work. Eventually I learnt how to use the “offline” installation mode of the package, which got me further. At this point I thought I was done, but in fact I was far from it.

Again, by not reading instructions carefully, I missed the step where I needed to rush a step called drblpush. This would actually configure the whole environment. Eventually I did this whole procedure, and finished it. Then as instructed, I tried to boot a computer via its LAN card, only to constantly fail with TFTP timing out. That sent me on a wild goose chase editing hosts.allow and hosts.deny files, which actually wasn’t the problem. My colleague continued with his Debian attempt, and to my frustration, got it working after following the steps. I kept digging and digging, doing multiple installs. By some twist of fate, I eventually got the system up and running, and I think it was the firewall in OpenSUSE that was the problem. It could also have been 1 missing package called netdiag, but I’m not sure. Having got the environment up at home, I wanted to replicate it at work, but I couldn’t. Guess my install there was to botched up from all my experiments.

In short, I’ve finally gotten the software to run on OpenSUSE, but it is a challenge. Once it is up and running though, it appears to work well and like it should. I’ve not used the multicast mode, as I don’t have multiple machines to restore yet, but it feels quite similar to Ghost, if not as user friendly. I think this system has loads of potential, but that it needs to be simplified, especially for non Linux people to get going, as well as to be split from the DRBL system. There’s no reason it can’t fully replace Ghost as the multicast king, apart from the unfriendly nature of the installation and prompts that are pretty much ncurses text based.

Here are some images of the system running on my older OpenSUSE 10.2 test system.

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  1. Roddy Lee
    February 26, 2011 at 16:04

    Hi, thanks for the artcile.

    Did you ever figure out about the TFTP timeout. I am having the same issue and can not get it resolved.

    Thank you for any information on this.

    Roddy

    • astraltraveller
      February 27, 2011 at 09:23

      Unfortunately, I never did figure out what it was. My colleague and I only ended up using Clonezilla a few times before we switched to FOG, which is a far superior cloning system in terms of ease of use and secondary features. Setting FOG up is also far easier than Clonezilla.

      My best guess about the TFTP timeout is to disable any firewalls running on your Linux box, make sure your DHCP server is running properly and the settings regarding PXE boot is properly set up in the DHCP server. Further more than that, I can’t say for sure unfortunately.

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