Using Linux for Drive Imaging

An idea that has been hiding out in one of my mind’s recesses is using Linux as a platform for imaging hard drives. The DOS based drive image programs (Ghost, DriveImage, etc.) seem to run into lots of problems supporting newer hardware and ideas such as booting from CD or USB drive , supporting multiple NICs, storing and recalling images over a network, etc. While more modern solutions such as Acronis True Image are WinPE based they have not seen the same widespread adoption and remain proprietary solutions that lock up your image data in some non-standard format.

I would like to see the expertise from creating “live” linux CDs (and USB drives) such as those from Knoppix and Ubuntu used to make a specialty distribution for use in PC hard drive imaging. The ideal solution would have varying levels of compression, a decent user interface, just work out of the box for most users and support storing to and recalling from any SMB/CIFS fileshare. Users should not need any prior experience with linux for basic usage but the distribution should support advanced topics such as multicasting and PXE booting to aid in large deployments. Of course you could give this away and still have an entire business model surrounding support and training on the product for business users.

In my search for a product such as this the closest thing I could locate was the G4L “Ghost for Linux” project. This porject proves there is interest in a program like this but it is really quite unpolished, especially in the UI end and support for anything out of the ordinary like booting from USB. There is no reason that single purpose linux distributions need to be ugly. As Knoppix and Ubuntu have prooven you can get a linux GUI onto a CD with plenty of room left for software.

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