Cloning multiple computers with Clonezilla SE

Deployment Process

To initiate the deployment process, head back to the machine running the Live DRBL environment. Notice that the terminal you had left open will now show the details of the cloning process (Figure 6). You can now safely close the terminal.

Figure 6: Just before it commences the requested operation, Clonezilla SE will display a rather long command that you can use next time to initiate the task without going through all the steps.

From the desktop, double-click the Clonezilla server icon again. You'll again go through the same process as covered in the initial step to first mount the image directory and then select the configuration to apply to all the computers in the network.

However, in the Clonezilla mode screen, you'll now have to select the restore-disk option since this time around you want to deploy the cloned image.

Clonezilla will scan the mounted file server and show you a list of images in the repository. If there are multiple images, scroll through the list and pick the image you want to restore. Next choose the target hard drive. Needless to say, the existing contents of this target will be wiped.

Clonezilla supports three restoration modes. There's Broadcast and Multicast for cloning multiple machines and Unicast for cloning a single machine. You should select the mode that best suits your network. However, multicast is a safe bet that will work for all types of deployments.

You'll then have to choose from three operating modes. If you select the first client+time-to-wait option, Clonezilla will ask you to specify the number of systems on which you want to deploy the image, as well as the time (in seconds) it should wait for the computers to be powered on. If you haven't powered on all your computers before the expiration of this time, Clonezilla will start deploying the image only on the systems that have been powered on.

I usually choose the clients-to-wait option, since I know the number of computers on which I want to deploy the image. Again, Clonezilla will work its magic and drop you back at the console. Leave it as is and head to the computers where you want to deploy the image.

Deploying the Images

Before you power on the computers, make sure they are configured to boot from the network. After you power on, select the highlighted option from the Clonezilla GRUB menu that begins with Clonezilla: multicast restore … (Figure 7).

Figure 7: You can also boot into a Live Debian 9 environment in case you need to test or prepare the computer before deploying a cloned image.

The computer will boot and wait until the number of computers you specified in the previous step have all been powered on. Once they are all up, Clonezilla will initiate the process to deploy the image on the machines. When it's done, the machines will be rebooted into the cloned environment.

Conclusion

The process might seem involved if you haven't cloned multiple machines before. However once you get the hang of it, you'll be amazed at Clonezilla SE's power and dexterity. Remember however that Clonezilla uses some very unforgiving tools to do its magic. I suggest first experimenting with it on computers with blank disks. You can even create a virtual lab with a virtual network inside VirtualBox to familiarize yourself with the process of cloning and restoring multiple machines, before you use it on physical hardware.

Infos

  1. Clonezilla: https://clonezilla.org/
  2. Clonezilla SE: https://clonezilla.org/clonezilla-SE/
  3. DRBL manual installation: https://drbl.org/installation/
  4. DRBL Live CD download: http://drbl.org/download/

The Author

Mayank Sharma has been writing and reporting on open source software from all over the globe for almost two decades.

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