Networks & "Ghosting"
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Thread: Networks & "Ghosting"

  1. #1
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    Networks & "Ghosting"

    Does anyone know much in the area of ghosting? This was done in a class I once took to set up the entire network.. .well anyhow I had a few question on the matter. Can ghosting be done through the network.. I mean that would take an awlful long time and be hell to fix in case of an error... and how would the hard drive be written over if all the files on it were in use.... is ghosting refering to moving the HD to another comp and ghosting from there? Also, ghosting will completely replicate a PC, correct? We are trying to establish some uniform to our network and I would apprectiate any input. Thank you.

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    Basically ghosting is taking an image (i.e. an exact copy) of a hard drive and then saving it to a file, much like creating a winzip archive - you take the information, store where it came from (in the case of winzip which folder, and in an image what position on the HDD it came from). This means that yes, you could do it over the network (although the OS you would boot into would have to support network).

    As the image will basically overwrite everything on the HDD, you cannot be using anything on the HDD, otherwise when the program tries to write to that location it would get a conflict with the OS (or whatever was writing to there). This means that you have to boot from a floppy disk (or bootable CD), and run all programs from there. This means that no data will be stored on the HDD (only in RAM) so the ghost program can write where ever you want.

    And finally, as long as it is done properly ghosting will completely replicate the software state of a PC. This includes everything _even_ hardware_ drivers so make sure to be careful if you've changed the hardware on a box, as the old image will be for another configuration. It should still work (to some degree) but it could be interesting.
    \"Death is more universal than life; everyone dies but not everyone lives.\"
    A. Sachs

  3. #3
    Senior Member Maestr0's Avatar
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    PXE (Pre-boot eXecution Environment) servers can also be used to boot to an image on the network and then image the machine remotely. Many of the larger imaging suites like Altriss and PowerQuest support image mulicasting(imaging many computers at a time) and PXE booting, this can enable many machines to be prepared quickly without physically visiting each machine.

    -Maestr0

    If you would like to familarize yourself with imaging I reccomend starting with Norton Ghost which is a very nice product for the price.

    \"If computers are to become smart enough to design their own successors, initiating a process that will lead to God-like omniscience after a number of ever swifter passages from one generation of computers to the next, someone is going to have to write the software that gets the process going, and humans have given absolutely no evidence of being able to write such software.\" -Jaron Lanier

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    I won't go over previous points posted. Here is some info on my situation.

    I started a new job this week as an IT Technician at a school, the setup they have is 500 PCs running windows XP pro (thank god) and 80 laptops for the teachers also running XP pro.
    We have about 22 wireless access points for the laptops and my bosses use ghost images for the majority of the serious problems.

    The upside I see is:
    It saves time upgrading a room of boxes to whatever you choose.

    The downside:
    In certain rooms PCs may or may not have the same hardware installed. Thus it becomes much more manual.

    I am fairly new to ghost images but from what I see on our network they do take time. Each one we deploy is roughly 4-5 gigs and can take from 20 minutes up to 3 hours?

    Can anyone recommend any streamline service that will do the same job but faster/better perhaps?
    (would like to make an impression)

  5. #5
    Senior Member Maestr0's Avatar
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    Using diffrent hardware will complicate matters yes, that is why many schools and institutions use Dell or a similar PC manufacturer that provide identical Workstations at low cost. As for the speed this just comes down to size and bandwith. Like anything else the more you overload the network the slower it gets (how much depends on the network load and whether it supports advanced routing protocols, distance to client and such) Basically you just have to find the balance and try to image machines in smaller groups so as not to overload the network. You can also try to streamline(make them as small as possible and use application servers where possible) your images to make them more suitable for rapid deployment. Automating the process to start at 3 am is helpful too.


    -Maestr0
    \"If computers are to become smart enough to design their own successors, initiating a process that will lead to God-like omniscience after a number of ever swifter passages from one generation of computers to the next, someone is going to have to write the software that gets the process going, and humans have given absolutely no evidence of being able to write such software.\" -Jaron Lanier

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    At work we use Symantec Ghost to image drives, etc.

    Using different hardware would certainly be a challenge. I have never attempted it, however it seems it could be accomplished, as long as the initial load booted.

    You could configure for the new hardware after-the-fact.

    .: Aftiel

  7. #7
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    Our big computer lab at my school has 150 compters in an identical hardware configuration. Each one has 5 operating systems on it - a copy of Windows XP for network access and normal use, and then 2000, NT, 98, and RH8.

    All the images are stored locally on the HDs. The big advantage here is that if something goes wrong with a computer, we can simply re-ghost that individual partition back to its original state. There is also a multicast server with a complete HD image in case thing go really wrong. Every Friday the lab image is updated and every workstation is reghosted from the multicast server. Students need not be afraid of screwing up computers if they need to for networking or routing classes since they can be restored in a matter of minutes.

    With this solution, we have almost eliminated software problems entirely.

    We're using Symantec Ghost 7.5
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    The diff. hardware shouldn't be a problem... we use dells and I'll just have to reconfugure the printer settings and a couple reinstallations of external cd-burners but I'm not too worried about it... I think it will be benificial in the end and for the company. I plan on starting the process overnight so I don't have to sit and watch it. Any other suggestions?

  9. #9
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    Ghosting over a network is slow, it obviously depends on the network over a 10 meg network I have managed to get a Windows 98 image (with office and about 2 gig of extra software) in about 30-40 mins. With the XP image with the same software you are looking at more like an hour (this is just from my experience with our network, I am not sure how 'normal' that is). I think to be honest, most people using network connection for ghosting on a large scale would probably use the Corporate edition of Ghost, this allows ghostcasting (sending the same image to lots of machines at one from a server). This method seems to work really well and if you are running it over the weekend or something I suppose you don't mind as much how long it takes, its the fact that it is all automated and you can go home and leave it and come back when its done

    If you want to image a machine very fast I would recommend an external USB2 or Firewire HDD (hardware permitting of course). I can image an XP machine with Office 2000 and about 2 gigs of educational software using this freecom hdd
    in the region of about 6 minutes. After that I just run ghstwalk.exe (on the Ghost disk) to change the SID and name of the machine, then join it to the domain. If you are using machines with different hardware just install the image on a machine with the same hardware it came from run sysprep.exe (found on the Windows cd in the deploy.cab file) with the -nosidgen
    switch, shut the machine down, and take another image. When you put the image on a new machine it will run a mini setup wizard to install the hardware etc, after the hardware is installed take another image of the machine. You now have an image suitable for the new hardware config, easy huh?

    The only thing to watch out for with sysprep is when you are moving an image from a base machine to laptops.

    read the article here http://www.joshie.com/~jlevitsk/blog...es/000032.html I found this article very useful.

    hope this helped, I have spent a very long time on Ghosting recently, hopefully this will help some of you avoid my pitfalls, I have pulled so much of my hair out over this

    UKNetsec

  10. #10
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    Depending on your infrastructure, you might have to enable IGMP. I doubt it, but i've had to do it in the past on some Cisco switches to get ghosting over the network to work successfully.

    just a heads up on a possible gotcha
    t.e.k.n.o.

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