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I have a lab with some Linux machines, some are Red Hat 5.1 machines installed on HPDL580 HW, and some are Linux installed on BLADE IBM machines.

Also I have laptop computer with Windows XP.

My question:

I want to backup the Linux machine as an image on my Win laptop, and then I need to restore the image to another HW, while the Linux machine I am restoring from must be up during backup process (I mean I can't shutdown the Linux machine).

Please advice which free tool/application I can run on my Win XP laptop in order to backup the Linux machine and then restore to a second Linux machine from the imgae located on my Windows XP laptop.

What is the best free tool for that?

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That's a strange requirement. It's also risky: if you make your backup while the system is running, you'll get an inconsistent state. What are you trying to achieve? –  Gilles Oct 23 '12 at 22:04
    
What is the "disk" setup like on the Linux machines. The answer will depend on if all the partitions are on LVM volumes or if they are directly on EXT4 or BTRFS. –  Daniel E. Shub Nov 23 '12 at 12:09
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2 Answers

up vote 0 down vote accepted

Try this:

tar -zcvpf /backups/fullbackup.tar.gz --directory=/ --exclude=proc --exclude=sys --exclude=dev/pts --exclude=backups

Keep in mind with this solution...it is not a bare metal back up, but you can at least do it while the system is up and running

To restore run the following:

tar -zxvpf /fullbackup.tar.gz
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Any files being modified during the backup will be corrupted, and different but related files can be corrupted if the backup gets an old version of one but a newer version of another. –  psusi Dec 23 '12 at 2:43
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If you are using LVM, then you can create a snapsnot with lvcreate -s, then backup the snapshot with, for example, partimage.

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