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g4u Harddisk Image Cloning for PCs

By steve - Posted on 16 May 2005

g4u is an open source disk image/clone/ghosting program that makes it easy to build an image of a system configuration and duplicate it to other systems.

I was interested in using it because I've been unhappy with the licensing policies and hardware support of my current solutions.

Hubert Feyre developed g4u as an alternative to ghost and some of the other imaging programs because he wanted to be able to run the server part under Unix, wanted to support most any filesystem, and didn't want to deal with DOS-based bootfloppies.

The program is available under the standard BSD license and uses a NetBSD kernel. You can run it off two floppies, a CD, a DVD, or even configure it as a boot option under GRUB.

The hardware supported is extensive and included my requirements for network support (without using a special server--it uses FTP), local drive-to-drive copies, SATA, SCSI, IDE, and lots of different network cards.
I did my testing on an IDE/SATA motherboard and imaged a PATA drive over to a SATA drive using a standard CD image that I downloaded from the website. The command line interface was easy to figure out. I read through the documentation on the website to avoid any surprises. I found it easy to find which disks where which. (On my system, the TO drive was the first listed because of the way device numbering worked--the SATA drive showed up first.) All of my hardware was detected properly including the SATA drive, PATA drive, and network card.

While disk imaging isn't for the faint-of-heart (nothing stops you from copying the blank disk to the source disk, other than your own understanding of what you are doing), I found the program very easy to use and just what I wanted. I don't like to have to use a big GUI when a few simple commands will do the job. Help is available at the command line by typing help and pressing enter. 99% of what you want to do can be done with these simple commands:

  • Save an image: uploaddisk serverIP imagename diskname
  • Copy an image: slurpdisk serverIP imagename diskname
  • Copy a disk: copydisk diskname0 diskname1
  • List disks: disks
  • Get help: help

The documentation was excellent, clear, and concise and really helped me plan my test. The program was also quite fast. My disk-to-disk test was completed much more quickly than a commercial product I used.



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