Disk imaging is used extensively within the IT departments of most companies. This enables them to quickly build desktops and laptops, to a repeatable standard and backup critical devices in order to quickly recover from a hard disk failure. In the past this has required some fairly expensive and proprietary software. These images are generally stored on a server but engineers can, and regularly do, carry a handful of them around with them.
The individual components required to do this with Open Source software do exist but until recently no-one seems to have tied them together with a nice, web based, front end. Enter FOG – a free open-source computer cloning system, which does exactly that. FOG is a Linux based server, that lets you backup and restore disk images for desktops/laptops and servers without the need to even carry a boot floppy/CD – as it uses PXE to boot from the network.
If setting this up sounds complicated, they do provide a VMWare virtual appliance for you to download use to do your initial testing – however, due to the large amounts of storage and IO demands, the VMWare appliance isn’t recommended for large scale production environments.
My initial tests are very encouraging and so if disk imaging is something that you are interested in, I wholeheartedly recommend checking this project out – kudos to Chuck Syperski and Jian Zhang for creating this.