A non-standard disk-imaging option for Linux users

In a previous post (Backup, backup, backup…), I recommended that owners of Asus T100 hybrid machines use Macrium Reflect Free Edition to create a complete backup of their hard drives prior to attempting to install Linux in a dual-boot format. Macrium is a Windows-based program but this isn’t an issue on the T100 since this computer has Windows as its default operating system. For most Linux users, a Linux-based disk imager would seem to be desirable but, as noted in the previous post, most available programs don’t use a graphical user interface (GUI) and so are not always easy to use and, perhaps more importantly, are not necessarily all that versatile. For users who wish to have more control over their disk imaging, and who don’t mind flirting briefly with Windows (more on this later), it is possible to use Macrium Reflect Free Edition on what would otherwise be a “pure” Linux system.

For Linux users, who don’t run dual-boot systems, it wouldn’t seem possible to run a Windows-based disk imaging program. My brief review of Redo Backup gave me the idea of how to achieve this. The “trick” is to create a bootable Macrium Reflect rescue disk (CD, DVD or USB) which uses Windows PE (Windows Pre-installation Environment ).

Earlier, I mentioned “flirting briefly with Windows”. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I can’t locate a method to create a Macrium rescue disk without running Macrium under Windows. So, if you are a true dyed-in-the-wool Linux user, you may have to seek out a friend who will provide you with temporary access to a Windows machine so that you can build the rescue disk. Secondly, Macrium have dropped the Linux-based recovery disk option and now only support the Windows PE version. So, if you opt to use Macrium Reflect for disk imaging and recovery, by necessity, you will be using the stripped-down PE version of Windows – albeit only for the duration of the backup/recovery process.

To my mind, the advantages of using Macrium Reflect far outweigh any downsides. The program is really simple to use, yet extremely powerful and very robust. I have been using this package for several years for backing up a number of dual-boot systems. In the early days, it proved very useful in restoring my Linux partition after I had inadvertently stopped it from booting. (I still need this capability on occasion, but I’m getting better!) It provides considerable peace of mind since I make regular full-system backups, and so am reasonably sure that I am protected against disk disasters. Finally, it has the option to mount and browse a disk image, allowing recovery of individual files or folders, which can be invaluable should something be inadvertently deleted.

While the rescue disk is normally used to restore something, Macrium’s rescue disk also allows the disk imaging process to be run from the bootable media. So, even for dedicated Linux users, it is possible to boot into Macrium’s Windows PE desktop and run the disk-imaging software without have Windows loaded on the main hard drive.

References:

Macrium Reflect Free Edition
http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

Creating rescue media
http://knowledgebase.macrium.com/display/KNOW/Creating+rescue+media

Reflections on Disk Imaging Software
http://opcug.ca/public/Reviews/MacriumReflectFree.htm

“Restoring” a hard-disk image to an SSD
http://opcug.ca/public/Reviews/macrium2.htm

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Applications, Backup and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A non-standard disk-imaging option for Linux users

  1. Jake says:

    I’ve just run into a major problem, I hope you can help me…I’ve been using Macirum Reflect free edition for many years, never a problem. Yesterday my SSD died on me, just completely dead….system fortunately set up as dual XP and Xubuntu with XP being on a separate disc. No bigger I thought- I’ll just restore the linux partition to a new disk via XP….’Cept it just doesn’t work! This is the first time that I have ever had to restore a linux partition….backup I took last week is corrupted somehow, so that didn’t work. Went to restore backup from August…and it completely successfully, but it will not boot. I get some kind of licensing error then grub>

    Now, looking at my file structures in a different programme it seems that Macium has done something bit weird….my linux swap file has now shrunk to couple hundred meg and is showing as Ext 2. My main linux system has no label, just blank, no formatting of any kind but the data seems to have restored there ok.

    I’ve tried restoring from XP and boot CD, same thing. Can anybody help?

    • Alan German says:

      Jake:

      I have restored the Linux partition on many occasions; however, I have almost always restored it to the same drive from which it was imaged. I think the only time I “moved” the Linux partition was when I “restored” a full image of a conventional hard disk to a newly-installed SSD.

      Your problem may be that the Master Boot Record is pointing to the wrong boot partition, although the error message that you are getting doesn’t sound quite right for this. Have you tried re-installing grub (e.g. https://linuxnorth.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/re-installing-grub2/)?

      The size of the swap file shouldn’t make any difference to the boot process. In the past, I have successfully booted on a system with no swap file.

      How critical is that you need to restore the previous Linux image? I store all of my data on a separate data partition so I can fairly easily re-install Linux and add any customized features to the OS without compromising the Windows or data partitions.

      Alan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s