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Okay folks, this little challenge has got me scratching my head, especially as I am not a Linux user.

I need to deploy Windows Server 2008 R2 onto a server that is currently running Linux. Effectively, I want to restore a Windows disk image onto the Linux system hard disk.

Here's the catch - I don't have physical access to the machine, so I need to find a way to do everything remotely, using SSH (no KVM). And the Linux machine only has one hard disk - the one containing the OS. However, I might be able to create a partition in free space at the end of the hard disk to store the image (I might need some help with the Linux commands). Or perhaps the image file can be pulled via FTP.

I tried Acronis but was disappointed to find that it doesn't seem to allow me to overwrite the system partition (unlike the Windows version of Acronis, which is capable of doing this with a restart).

Any ideas? Are there any other utilities that might be able to do this? Something that could be programmed to run at boot-time?


@ Mugen (I have also edited my question): The server is running CentOS 5. I effectively have SSH access only. The hard disk is 100Gb but because the server is a VM it can be extended dynamically, giving us additional free space to play with. The Windows image can be prepared to suit as I will be imaging a local VM, so I can use any suitable tool to make the disk image. The image will probably end up around 5Gb or less. Please let me know if you need more info and thanks for your help.


@ Jakub: sadly no KVM access!

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do you have access to the boot prompt/menu? What sizes are the disk and the windows image? What kind of and version of linux distribution is that server running? – matthias krull Jul 30 '10 at 10:57
do you have remote KVM access? – Jakub Jul 30 '10 at 17:38
...This might have better traction @ – Jakub Jul 30 '10 at 17:57
100 GB? If it's a virtual server, it's just an image. Why not simply create a new image and swap it in? What kind of provider doesn't let you directly change a server you are authorized to work on? You are authorized, right? – CarlF Jun 7 '11 at 12:30

This is very hard to do, but not impossible.

I did it on a dedicated server I was renting that had Linux - Without the ability to rebuild in to Linux, I would not recommend it at all as you may go wrong - It took me about 6 attempts to get it perfect.... It may be possible to use the Linux Boot Manager to go back to Linux if my steps fail, however I am not smart enough at Linux to really help there and as I could always rebuild, I never looked in to it.

I started by downloading the Windows WAIK, this allows me to build unattended installation scripts.

I next used Gparted to shirnk the partition by 30GB then make 2x 15GB NTFS partitions and set the first one to active.

I then copied the root of the Windows installation disk to the active partition along with the unattend script I created in WAIK.

I rebooted and after about 40 minutes, Windows was installed.

I cannot really be more precise in the instructions other than to say, you have to think about everything in the unattend file - enable remote desktop, set an administrator password, allow remote desktop through the firewall, set up the networking/ip addresses etc., and the biggest problem I found was drivers.

share|improve this answer
Yes, this is exactly my reason for doing it. Your answer has given me some useful pointers. I do have ability to reimage if it goes wrong, and years ago I managed to do a remote install with Win2003 (but starting from a Win base config) so I know what you mean about multiple attempts and driver/networking/RDP considerations! Thanks. – Matt Jenkins Jul 30 '10 at 19:23

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