I got myself a dell laptop from the local computer store. Its a used machine with Windows Vista Home Basic on it. I want to load Ubuntu Desktop 10.10 though so I can do perl development. BUT I want to keep a copy of the entire harddrive with the dell utility partition and Windows Vista in case I want to go back. I was thinking I could image the drive but I not sure what to use, I don't have Ghost or anything, Someone had told me about Clonezilla. Would that work for me? Is it hard to use? Also I want to burn the data to a DVD or something more storable than a harddisk.

  • With the dropping prices of hard drives just get a new one and store the one the came originally with your laptop in a safe or similar.
    – IrqJD
    Jan 10, 2011 at 21:20
  • You can run perl on Windows, ActivePerl or use Cygwin.
    – ocodo
    Jan 10, 2011 at 22:50

9 Answers 9


I would use Clonezilla. If you have a windows share available somewhere on your network then CLonezilla will let you backup the entire disk out to the SMB share... and you could restore from the same location as well. Clonezilla is hard for some people but it uses a wizard and so there aren't very many places that you can get lost in it.

  • Ok, can you burn the data to a DVD or CDs with clonezilla or does the data need to be placed on a network share or drive. Jan 10, 2011 at 20:42
  • I've used Clonezilla with great results. If you have a Seagate hard drive you can use the Seagate DiskWizard which is a free version of Acronis True Image but only works if you have a Seagate HD.
    – Hondalex
    Jan 10, 2011 at 22:00
  • @Solignis - it can be either. Clonezilla will zip it to a network drive , FTP site, or to a CD or to a USB drive. whatever you want.
    – djangofan
    Jan 11, 2011 at 20:06
  • I would add to your answer. I would "only" use Clonezilla, but thats my personal choice. Why? Its quick (very quick). Its reliable (very). It can ghost a hdd, but the size of the img file is roughly the size of the used files on the hdd (not the total size). Lastly you can create a live bootable usb flash drive, so no need to search for a DVD which could get scratched. It is also free. Because I'm a C# developer, I work mainly on Windows. But Clonezilla is an outstanding example of the power of Linux.
    – JL.
    Jan 16, 2011 at 22:18

Use the original Dell restore disk if you want to go back. If the machine didn't come with it, it usually can be ordered from the manufacturer, although sometimes for a charge.


While it is a good idea to image the disk and I would recommend Clonezilla as well, are there other requirements to using Ubuntu Desktop 10.10 besides just for Perl development? If you are looking to only do Perl development then why not give Strawberry Perl a try (http://strawberryperl.com/) since they have a release for Vista?

  • I tried strawberry, it works but I have certain needs of Linux. Jan 10, 2011 at 21:24

Have you considered using a product like VirtualBox or other desktop virtualization? If you want to preserve your current configuration then this could be an option.

  • I am using VMware Workstation currently on my office computer for my development. Though it did not occur to me to just run Workstation on the laptop. That is a good idea because it is a win/win. Jan 10, 2011 at 21:44

Where to begin...

There is a whole host of alternatives: System commander, disk master, Acronis, driveimage XML, Linux tools like gparted, old favorites like Ghost, cloning the drive to one of those neat portable hard drives, BartPE, creating a secondary partition and cloning the first partition to the new partition. With this limited list you can roam the internet with a search engine and reveal all the choices you have, their upsides, downsides and options.

I personally like Acronis, even if it is a bit tempermental. I liked ghost better, but the new version isn't very good, at least for what I want. Acronis costs a little coin, but the amount of time I have saved is well worth it. Lose a hard drive, fix it, re-image, get a virus, re-image, corrupt the OS, re-image, you name it short of blowing up or crushing the computer; this works to get up and running in an hour or so. No more time wasting tail chasing trying to salvage a damaged system. This is what works for me:

I open the drive, put in the acronis true image disk, boot to the disk and image. The reason I like this method is that you can save a virgin image since the OS never even boots to automatically suck up all the keys etc. I also like it because you can do an image test to make sure it got captured right.

Then I boot and let all the generic key sniffing, patches, updates etc. happen and then let the system stabilize. Then I image this software stack.

Finally I rip out all the "crapware" add my settings, screen savers, applications etc. etc. and create a base personalized image. Purists will wipe the drive and re-install, but there are a bunch of good articles on how to rip all the junk off a machine.

Now I have a fall back for everything but the end of the world. I re-image as I add to the software stack on my machine to capture changes as I go.

I know this is a down and dirty solution, but hey I'm just an end user what do I know :)

  • you can boot from Ubuntu CD
  • run gparted and select hardrive (probably sda)
  • check which partition is the last - dell utility partition or Windows Vista

if for example Vista is the second one - calculate the space of entire dell partition plus used portion of Vista partition (for example 10 GB)

  • boot linux on some other PC with free space (can be also live Linux CD)


nc -l -p 12345 | gunzip -c | dd of=mybackup.img.gz

on your laptop run

dd if=/dev/sda count=10G bs=1 | gzip -c -9 | nc IP_server2 12345

the parted magic liveCd comes with partimage which is a partition image maker. You can save any of your patitions off to an image file on a removable drive or to optical disc.


Clonezilla is too complex and confusing. When Windows fails, the last thing you need is a complex restoration.

Use PING, Macrium Reflect, or Paragon (all free for personal use). PING is superb because you can do the copy from the CD without Windows running. I have done successful restorations with PING and Macrium. Macrium and Paragon can backup multiple partitions all in the same backup. This is useful if you have a recovery partition that you want to preserve.

Check the bare metal restore boot discs to ensure you can boot from them after you do the install. Do not risk a bare metal boot failure when Windows becomes destroyed (which is inevitable).

I experienced devastation with Easeus Todo. Easeus destroyed my hard drive upon restoration. I had done a verification check after the backup. So much for image verifications with Easeus.

  • It is not really complex or confusing. It provides a text based wizard. If you are willing to spend 5 minutes learning it, the rewards are very quick and reliable ghosting for free.
    – JL.
    Jan 16, 2011 at 22:21
  • @JL He recommends other free ones, so maybe they are easier to use. It'd have helped if he had described why the others are easier.
    – barlop
    Jan 17, 2011 at 14:34

Do not take the backup of System Drive where Vista is installed (given that you have the recovery solution for Vista). Just take the backup of the other partitions somewhere on an external device if possible OR just the important stuff that you want.

Get yourself a Ubuntu live cd which is bootable. Boot the computer with CD. Install Ubuntu on the other partition (Other than the Vista drive).You can also create some other partition for ubuntu via the CD. The installation is pretty simple if you follow the install wizard. Make sure you create a swap partition and one partition at least where Ubuntu will be installed. The mount point should be / (root).

Install it. Reboot the computer. The Linux boot loader will then give you the option to go to Ubuntu or Vista.

  • How does one do what you describe? Please provide specific details on how to accomplish what you describe.
    – Ramhound
    Jul 14, 2016 at 14:22

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