One of the paradoxes of PCs is that they make duplicating individual disk files almost effortless, but they provide far less help in copying entire systems, which can be a problem when you’re installing numerous new computers with the same configuration. PowerQuest’s Drive Image Pro 3.01 (DIPro) comes to the rescue by making it easy to copy an entire disk drive to either another partition or a single “image” file, both of which can then be copied to other drives.
DIPro actually consists of a number of programs for working with disk partitions and image files, including PowerQuest’s PartitionMagic Pro 5.0, the beloved application that resizes partitions without destroying your data. While DIPro is a DOS-based program, it now handles Linux ext2 partitions as easily, and using it to set up a dozen or so identical Linux workstations is barely more difficult than copying a file.
DIPro and its components can be run from the CD or installed on DOS diskettes or a hard-disk partition. We found getting the program started with Linux can be a real pain, though, since it requires you to procure a DOS boot floppy or use the provided MAKEDISK.BAT DOS batch file with Linux’s dosemu emulator. This is much more trouble than something this simple should be.
Linux users will appreciate DIPro’s BootDisk Builder utility, which can set up diskettes for PowerCasting servers and clients. Note that PowerCasting requires NDIS network-interface drivers.
Windows or Otherwise
DIPro also includes some Windows-specific applications, including its Sysprep Tool, which provides post-image processing for Windows NT images, and SIDchanger, a utility that’s needed to install a unique security identifier in each cloned copy of Windows NT. PowerQuest’s DeltaNow technology allows file changes to be made to Windows image files, but not to Linux images.
DIPro can easily replicate a disk or partition to another disk, but its real power is in using an intermediate image file. An image file is normally smaller than the partition or disk it was made from. Disk images can optionally be compressed, further reducing their size. Once created, the image file can be multicasted to all workstations on the network that are running the PowerCasting client.
The Fine Print
Potential DIPro buyers should keep two issues in mind: the program’s licensing terms and the lack of on-demand, network broadcasting. Each system that uses DI must be licensed individually, including all of the PowerCasting clients. As for the other point, a PowerCasting server must be set up before a client can download an image.
While Drive Image Pro’s documentation is very good, it barely mentions Linux, and is almost conspicuous in its indifference toward Linux. Still, once set up it handles Linux ext2 partitions gracefully, making it a potentially valuable tool for system administrators who need to back up or replicate partitions or entire drives.
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