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I would like to boot a PC from the network (e.g., PXE), then let the PC clone its hard disk from an image located on a server, then boot from the hard disk.

Is it possible?

FAI (fully automatic install) seems not to support cloning an entire image.

Another solution I found would be to use dd and netcat for cloning over the network. However, I would have to somehow first boot a minimalistic system that has dd and netcat available, then clone, then re-boot from hard disk. Is this possible? Is there a simpler solution?

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I think it is possible! It should be easy if USB boot is acceptable. –  b166er Aug 27 '13 at 10:34
What do you mean? Just booting the system from the USB stick? But how is that related to my question? –  Konstantin Aug 27 '13 at 14:47

2 Answers 2

Yes it is possible.

You need to use minimalistic initramfs/initrd, whose job is to dd local HDD from network. Once done, mount that partition and chmod to that image.

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FAI is good for netbooting an installer. To netboot a disk image cloner, use FOG, which specializes in Windows imaging, or Clonezilla, which supports OS-agnostic images.

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Seems that FOG only supports Windows clients. –  Konstantin Aug 28 '13 at 6:55
Added suggestion for Clonezilla. –  200_success Aug 28 '13 at 7:09
Yes, I know about Clonezilla. You can use it, e.g., to boot from CD/USB and then clone a drive. But how could you use it to boot from network, clone a partition from server to your machine, and then boot from this partition? –  Konstantin Aug 28 '13 at 11:45

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