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I have a number of computers I take care of in my family and I hate to do reinstalls and go through the effort of getting the distro into the ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Newbie
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Hinesville, GA USA
    Posts
    235

    Timesaver install


    I have a number of computers I take care of in my family and I hate to do reinstalls and go through the effort of getting the distro into the "standard" configuration. For example, I use qbittorrent and most distros use transmission, I install both Firefox and Chrome Stable, and I get rid of GIMP and a few others. For this reason I tended to use only distros that had a remaster or snapshot capability but many don't have this great feature. Over the past few weeks I have discovered a quick and easy way to install a backup of a pre-configured system using my trusty Parted Magic USB drive.

    Once you're done a fresh install and got the system configured as you want it (adding/removing programs, selecting theme, other tweaks), shut down and reboot into Parted magic. Run the program FSArchiver, and use this to make a copy of your installed system onto a backup drive. I have a couple external USB drives I use for general purpose backup and they work great. Before you start this process, create the directory where you want these backups stored on the external drive as you can't do this from within FSA. Note that FSA is file oriented and not partition oriented so you can backup a 500GB partition and reinstall on a 100GB partition as long as there is enough space for the uncompressed files. The biggest Linux install I have seen (not counting user data) is 7GB so this method is viable.

    On a Core I-5 laptop, with an installed size of 3GB, it takes less than 7 minutes to create the backup file - and you only do it once.

    Take your Parted Magic media and the external drive to the computer you want to install to and boot PM. If you need to create or modify partitions, do it now as you can't do this from inside FSA. Once the partition work is done, run FSA. Select restore partition and highlight the partition you want to write to. In the select image box, open the "Media" directory, the "Named" directory where you store the files, and highlight the backup source you want to restore from. Start the restore and it will write an exact copy of what you backed up on the new drive. To make sure you can boot, run Grub Doctor from the menu and make sure a functioning Grub is installed on the partition and MBR.

    It takes less than 2 minutes to do the restore and you'll then boot into the freshly installed system. I've used this method to load configured distros on all of my machines but there's a caveat - they are all similar hardware wise and no proprietary drivers are installed.

    Having a quick way to reinstall a configured system is a real time saver in case it gets dorked up.

    I have configured versions of a dozen distros on my backup drive and I jump between them often as I'm testing which handles my usage the best...

  2. #2
    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Harrow, UK
    Posts
    1,258
    I used a similar method to port AntiX to a new computer with a completely empty hard drive. But I had to do quite a bit of system configuration afterwards. For example, my network card had been differently named by udev because it was on a different bus from the old machine, so the link wasn't brought up. I had to scrap the old udev rules file and let udev create a new one.

    You seem to have got away with it more easily than I did. But I agree, FSarchiver is awesome.
    "I'm just a little old lady; don't try to dazzle me with jargon!"
    www.hrussman.entadsl.com

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