Clonezilla: Sheer awesomeness

I was going to start by saying that building a Crux system is a long and tedious process. But really, no matter what software you’re using, building a system to your liking takes time and effort.

But for someone like me, who swaps out systems sometimes once or twice in the course of a few days, building and rebuilding, installing and reinstalling … it can be very time consuming.

So I took some advice and looked into Clonezilla, and I really like what I found. Now I have a way of flashing an entire system — an entire hard drive, really — to a file or a folder, and switching between systems in a matter of minutes.

It’s fantastic stuff. I have an entire, updated and customized Jaunty system stashed on my modular drive, alongside a custom-compiled Crux system. Time to back up a system is under 10 minutes for a 60GB 7200rpm system drive, writing to a 120GB 5400rpm modular drive. Writing out that entire hard drive again takes even less time.

And the time saved over installing and reinstalling is huge. Consider that a fresh Crux 2.5 system, installed today from the release ISO, needs almost every core package updated and recompiled — including some giants, like gcc. I don’t know about your system, but at 1GHz, gcc takes me more than three hours to build.

So not only does it save me time on an installation, but it also means I can corrupt an entire system (which I consider to be fun) with any manner of oddball packages or profiles, and restore a fresh one in a matter of minutes. No, seriously: I can go berzerk and wreck an entire Ubuntu system in any fashion I please, and 10 minutes later, it’s back. It’s a queer, but impressive form of immortality.

There are some downsides to Clonezilla. First of all, it’s not exactly point-and-click backup and restore. If you discount yourself as a beginner or fear anything ungraphical, this will be very intimidating for you. Everything is dialog-driven, meaning the menus and selections are reminiscent of the Ubuntu alternate installation. If you don’t like that, look for something else.

And you need to know a little bit about your hardware, or at least enough to recognize where you put your backups, and make sure you’re restoring them properly.

On the other hand, I have used only the default options throughout my entire learning experience with Clonezilla, and I have yet to wreck anything irreparably (fingers crossed there). So long as you keep your focus and don’t split your attention between Clonezilla and YouTube ( ๐Ÿ™„ ), you’ll come out a winner. And I only mention this because, like any other tool of this magnitude, the potential is there to really ruin your day.

But the benefits far outweigh the risks. And if I understand the Clonezilla home page correctly, there are a lot of nifty tricks that you can do with Clonezilla that fall way beyond my needs. I’ll let you read up on it and decide if it’s useful to you; half of the things they talk about I don’t even know what they are.

In any case, I offer a very strong recommendation, on the grounds that it will save you a lot of time reinstalling, or preserving a “clean” system, or switching between systems, like I do. A very big smilie for the Clonezilla people: ๐Ÿ˜€


10 thoughts on “Clonezilla: Sheer awesomeness

  1. vespas

    >I donโ€™t know about your system, but at 1GHz, gcc takes me more than three hours to build.

    it really sounds like you should be using icecream!

  2. Walter

    Your articles are always so fascinating. Do you have suggestions for readings that could “initiate” somebody that is most definitely NOT initiated to learn how to compile, build, a Linux system?

    1. K.Mandla Post author

      Ah, that’s a tough one. I cut my teeth compiling in Ubuntu, following mostly howto’s out of the Ubuntu Forums. I don’t know of any generic tutorials really … give me a few days and I’ll see if I can find some that are helpful.

  3. Timmy

    @Ali, Walter
    I haven’t done this myself, but I’ve gotten the feeling from several forum posts that building something like Arch or Crux is actually a better use of time than LFS.

  4. Luca


    I would have to agree, unless you really want to know every bit of software that goes into your system, LFS is a bit of a waste. If you ever need to build your own toolchain though it is pretty useful.

  5. Walter

    Well, thank you all for the feedback.
    I am familiar with Ubuntuforums: I’ll have a look.
    I have seen several 1000+ pages books on Ubuntu (“The Ubuntu guide” and others of the likes): should I bother or am I going to get an explanation on how to change the volume of my speakers? That much I can do already ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Pingback: Links 07/05/2009: KDE 4.2.3 Released, Canaima GNU/Linux 2.0.1 Released, 3.1.0 Release Made Official | Boycott Novell

  7. Pingback: A near-death experience « Motho ke motho ka botho

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