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Re: Cloning


* Pedro Hernandez <phph109@yahoo.es> [2004-Jan-29 06:00 AKST]:
> I'm about to install Debian on 12 computers (i*86). They will use the
> same setup regarding software, but the hardware differs somewhat
> between them.
> I would like to know if there is possible to, for example, install and
> configure one box and then somhow "copy" the install to the others. Or
> is the debian installer maybe scriptable?

I've done this two ways -- the first is using 'partimage', which is a 
program similar to Norton Ghost.  You start by getting one system 
configured as you wish, and then make images of the data.  'partimage' 
allows you to send these across the network, or write them as files 
which could be burned to a CD.

After you've gotten one system imaged, boot each clone using a bootable 
CD-ROM that contains the 'partimage' program.  If you're using CD 
images, you'll need one that loads everything into RAM so you can take 
the CD out.  Otherwise a Knoppix CD works just fine.  Run 'partimage' 
again and write it to the drive.

You need to make sure that the kernel you're using supports all the 
hardware in all your machines.  A default Debian kernel ought to work 
well, because most things are built as modules.

The other way I've been doing this more recently is with the 'bootcd' 
program.  This program takes a running system and turns it into a 
running system on CD.  The only limitation here is that you've got to 
get a lot of the system onto the first CD so it can boot it.  Other CD's 
can have the rest of the data.

I use this system when I want to do a rapid install, but each system 
will have a custom set of packages.  So the "master" machine has a 2.6 
kernel with most drivers built as moduels, as well as a set of basic 
packages installed (including those to build a new customized kernel).  
Run 'bootcd' to make the install live on a CD.

Boot the first "clone" with the CD.  Partition the hard drive, make 
filesystems and mount them.  Then copy the /* directories to the hard 
drive, mount /proc in the hard drive mounted space, 'chroot' to the hard 
drive, fix /etc/fstab, run lilo and reboot.  There's a few things to 
clean up upon rebooting (delete /mnt/mtab, remove a few scripts from 
/etc/rcS.d).  Now install what you want.

Both systems are much faster than doing a standard install, especially 
if you're shooting for a newer kernel version, like 2.6.

Christopher S. Swingley          email: cswingle@iarc.uaf.edu
IARC -- Frontier Program         Please use encryption.  GPG key at:
University of Alaska Fairbanks   www.frontier.iarc.uaf.edu/~cswingle/

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