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Is it possible to use Trinity Rescue Kit's mclone(8) utility to clone a disk with more than one ext3/ext4 partition?

Specifically, if I have one computer (the sender, running mclone -s) with a disk partitioned to sda1 as / and sda2 as /home, and other computers (the receivers, running mclone) with identical hardware but unpartitioned disks, I see three possible outcomes:

  • mclone may automatically clone both partitions and set up the partitions correctly
  • mclone may require me to clone one partition at a time
  • mclone may require me to first partition each remote computer individually, and then clone one partition at a time

Normally I would just try this and see what happens but the computers haven't arrived yet. Any thoughts?

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There are dozen of solution besides MClone why do you prefer MClone? – cybernard Apr 23 '13 at 3:21
MClone is the only one I know of; could you provide an alternative example that could perform this partitioning/cloning task over a network? – wchargin Apr 23 '13 at 3:24
Yes, I do it all the time over a network with drbl from They even have a livecd that can have you up and running in 10-20min max. I multicast 25 pc's at a time in 12 different rooms. Select "save disk" and it does not matter if you have 1 partition or 10 they are all cloned. Also you can network boot the new PC so you don't even need to make a special CD or anything. – cybernard Apr 23 '13 at 3:27
For a small project like this Clonezilla may make an excellent choice also. – cybernard Apr 23 '13 at 4:09
Great! So if I start drbl on one and Network Boot the other 32, it will find and start imaging automatically? And I presume I launch Network Boot before drbl? (If you put this in an answer I will accept) – wchargin Apr 23 '13 at 4:33
up vote 1 down vote accepted

First, let me clarify some requirements.

  1. You need another computer and add a hard drive that is big enough to hold the image. (generally the image is 75% to 50% the size of all your data. 20 GB is 10 GB to 15 GB.)
  2. For maximum speed, all computers should be placed in 1 room at least temporarily. I got a cheap gigabit 24-port Netgear switch.
  3. A DHCP server can not cross subnets, and if your company has an existing DHCP server it will interfere with it.
  4. This process generates a flood of multicasts so it is best to do it off the production network.
  5. If you do this off your production network, you won't have to worry about IT yelling at you for making the network slow.

Basic steps overview:

  1. Boot another PC (the server) with an added hard drive from the DRBL live CD.
  2. Connect (server) to the master (unit to be cloned) computer.
  3. Set it up (see below).
  4. Network boot (master) and wait for imaging to complete.
  5. Using "dcs" change the server to "restore disk" mode (See "now its time for the magic" below)
  6. Network the clients and wait.

  • Burn the drbl LiveCD.
  • Boot from the LiveCD.
  • double click the "Start Drbl"
    When it asks for an IP address, I like to use Accept all the other defaults.

Pre-format the hard drive to hold your image with whatever file system you want.

Open a terminal window and type:

sudo su
mount /dev/sdb1 /home/partimag

You will now get a GUI.

Start Clonezilla
"Save disk"
Enter the name "Now in server"
name the image. (for example:Room 200 )
"use the image partition table"
"turn computer off when done"

Otherwise, accept the defaults.

When it is done, plug the network cable from this PC into the good/master unit. Power it ON and press F12. If network boot is turned on in the BIOS, the computer will boot and the drbl unit will capture it.

Now it is time for the magic:


restore disk
select the image
Wait for 32 PCs or whatever you have.

When you finish the server will wait patiently for you to network boot all the PCs. As soon as the last PC is fully booted, all computers will image all at once.

Ask me questions in the comments section below.

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So the additional hard drive on the server computer is just to store the image that's created of the master computer, right? The server computer itself isn't being cloned? And this will work with multiple partitions? – wchargin Apr 23 '13 at 23:22
Yes, the addition hard drive is just to store the image. The server is not being cloned. As long as you select "Save Disk" it will clone as many partitions as the disk has. – cybernard Apr 24 '13 at 0:04
Great! One more question: when you say "plug the network cable from this PC into the good/master unit" do you mean connect the two Ethernet ports of the computers? Or just connect them to the same switch? – wchargin Apr 24 '13 at 0:24
I mean from the "server"(The unit you put the DRBL live CD) to the unit to be cloned.(The one computer you made with multiple partitions.) Connect the two Ethernet ports is the fastest, but the same switch will also work. If your switch is gigabit the difference will be so small it won't matter. – cybernard Apr 24 '13 at 0:42
Perfect; one last question then I promise I'll stop: do I boot from drbl or CloneZilla, or does it matter? – wchargin Apr 24 '13 at 1:34

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