Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Creating a "restore CD"

I am in the process of preparing two old computers to be given to nontechnical family members who live over 1000 miles away.

Because I can't be there to help them if the system gets screwed up, I plan to create bootable CDs that they can use to restore the main partition to the state it was in when they first got it from me.

One of the computers will have Linux, since I don't want to pay $200 or pirate a copy of MS Windows. And the recipients have no need for Windows since all they want is a basic appliance for email, Internet, and maybe simple word processing.  They won't be installing anything more than I put there, so Linux dependencies and command-line configs won't be an issue for them.

So I am looking for something that can create bootable, easy-to-restore hard drive images onto a CD, can do both FAT32 and ext2/ext3 filesystems, and costs less than the $70 charged for Norton Ghost which I don't know will do what I want anyway.  Any suggestions?  Open source preferred, if you know of any.

T. Norman
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

You could check out Acronis True Image mentioned in another topic here:
http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=105257

(although it may be more expensive at $50 than you want):
http://www.acronis.com/products/trueimage/

I haven't used this product, and it installs only on Windows, but it appears to be able to create a bootable restore CD for any operating system:

"After installation Acronis True Image lets you create a bootable diskette or CD to create a disk image on a computer with any operating system. Supported filesystems: FAT16/32, NTFS, Linux Ext2, Ext3, ReiserFS, and Linux SWAP."

Philip Dickerson
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Use Mondo for Linux backups
creates bootable CDs and is GPL
http://www.microwerks.net/~hugo/docs/docs.html

El Macho
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

I've used Acronis and it works very nicely. Remember to keep a copy of the restore CD in case your family members' restore CD gets to be corrupted.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, January 22, 2004

Hi,

This is the place I would go:
http://www.nu2.nu/bootcd/

It describes probably all there is to know in order to be able to create bootable CDs and provide free tools to actually create a n ISO image for you to burn on a fresh CD.

Cheers.

Maxime Labelle
Thursday, January 22, 2004

Ease of use is a main requirement ... they must be able to restore the system with nothing more than a couple of obvious mouse clicks or keystrokes.  So far nothing seems to be like that, and they don't have trial versions with enough functionality to test that out.  For example, the Acronis trial version doesn't allow you to restore from bootable removable media.

Mondo looks very doubtful as far as ease of use is concerned, unless is it possible to create my own shell scripts on the bootable disc to take them through the restore process.  I'll look into that one this weekend.

Any other suggestions are welcome.

T. Norman
Thursday, January 22, 2004

You can give them a bootable CD that will work without any clicks at all as long as you have set the BIOS to work off CD (in Ghost you would use the -sure switch). I wouldn't advise it though!

The one or two mouse clicks are easy. The problems I see are the dialog screens. My personal preference is for a Ghost boot floppy that will start the CD and give people a one click choice. I'd label the CD in red for danger.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, January 22, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home