This week I bought my wife a new notebook (an Acer Aspire 5740-5513). It’s a basic, but fast and well-built computer that will do everything she needs it to do. All at a bargain price. Of course it came with Windows 7 installed and since she’s used to using Linux by now, I need to get that going ASAP!
But before I made any changes to the partition table I wanted to back up the computer in it’s pristine state. So trying to keep things simple, I decided to use the built-in Acer backup program under Windows. It is supposed to create a backup set on 3 DVD’s, but guess what?. Yeah, it failed after the first disc. The application hung and I had to kill it with Task Manager. Good times with Windows…
So I thought I would try Partimage from a live CD instead since I have used it with good results in the past. Last time, I used it to backup my Samsung NC-10 to an external USB drive. This time I decided to use the gigabit NIC on the 5740 to backup to my desktop over ethernet. The problems started when I tried to get the Partimage client on the notebook to connect to the server on my desktop (now running Arch Linux – more on that in another post). Well, to keep this short, it didn’t work. I tried running Partimage from a couple different live CD’s on the notebook and kept coming up with authentication errors in the auth and partimaged logs on the Arch box. Most likely it’s a permissions or partimaged compilation problem. I could have fixed it eventually but I wanted to get the backup done and move on, so I changed tactics.
I decided to boot both machines with the Parted Magic 4.1 live CD. Again, I would run the Partimage server on the desktop and the client on the notebook. End result, it worked. I did run into a couple snags on the server side though. Here’s the workaround:
First, you need to set a password for root. Next, change ownership of the file /usr/etc/partimaged/partimagedusers to the user ‘partimag’. Then add root as an allowed user to ‘partimagedusers’, save the file and change its access mode to 600. Mount the drive where you want save your backup image and in a terminal window, change to the directory where you will be saving the files. Start the server from there. Now you should be able to connect from the client and begin your backup with no problem.
I think these changes could be incorporated into the Parted Magic live CD by its developers to facilitate network backups with Partimage. Or you could just remaster the iso and have your own custom Parted Magic build. Either way, once you have everything configured properly, it’s an easy way to do a low level backup over the network.
Oh, and please don’t tell me about the other ways to backup over the network. I am fully aware there are other options – both free and commercial. The point of this exercise was to use this specific tool and make it work as it was designed to.