Automation in the installation of Operating Systems

One of the basic processes that we carry out within the company that affects all of its employees is installing an operating system so they can work. Being able to do it quickly and simultaneously on multiple computers is essential to expedite daily work. With the available tools, we have one that because of its simplicity, practicality, and good performance helps us daily in our work: Clonezilla.

Clonezilla: Simplicity and Speed

Clonezilla is Open Source software for partitioning and cloning disks quickly and easily. It is useful for image installation and as well as for performing backups. Currently, there are two versions of this software: the live (used to boot from a CD, DVD or USB) and the SE version (which we use running from a server to perform mass cloning).

Regarding the technical aspects, the minimum requirements you need are: a processor x86 or x86-84, 196 MB of RAM memory, and some boot device available (hard drive, CD, or USB).

The Importance of Automation: Before and After

The importance of the automation of any process is essential in the management of any company. This technological solution that allows us to automate the installation process of operating systems gives us greater efficiency and significantly reduces the time needed to perform the task. With minimum requirements, it allows us to clone an image in an average time of 10 minutes, when in the past, the same task required at least 1 hour per device. In addition, one of the benefits of the software is that you can simultaneously clone up to 40 computers. The effectiveness of Clonezilla is that it saves and restores only used blocks on the hard disk which substantially reduces the cloning time. In some software testing with high-end hardware, for example with a cluster of 42 nodes, it has come to a transfer rate of 8 Gb per minute.

Another attractive feature of this software, which allows us to upload images on a daily basis, is that it is multiplatform: you can clone images both for GNU/Linux, MS Windows or Mac OS.

 

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The Way We Currently Work

Currently, we work in the following way: we have saved on the server of Clonezilla multiple images of Windows 7 (the OS that we use on most of the disks to be cloned) of several available devices for both desktops and laptops. These images are copies from disks uploaded in advanced with most of the applications used daily by the employees of the company. Also, since it is the clone of a computer with the same characteristics, it already has all the drivers and settings for their computer.

The only limitation to take into account when cloning the image is that the disk to be installed must have the same or greater capacity of the image file to be cloned. If this is not respected, the software itself will not show a message indicating the minimum capacity required to perform the installation.

The cloning process is quite simple. To begin, we have to choose the LAN option from the BIOS of the computer. Once you start Clonezilla’s software, with a few simple steps on several screens, it will guide us to perform the cloning. We can make a backup copy of the disk on the server, clone a disk for a new computer, or make a backup. The last step is to choose the type of equipment to clone according to the model of the computer and that is when the process of cloning begins. The total process does not take more than 15 minutes and once you start your computer, it is already completely operating and running.

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Conclusion

Since this technological solution was implemented,  in the beginning intended as a way to expedite the installation of an operating system, the entire process became fully automated, since we can clone an image in a short period of time and simultaneously in only a few steps.

This gives us great advantages and benefits, such as being able to prepare computers quickly, even in emergencies when you unexpectedly need to be able to install multiple computers simultaneously and also to make a copy of a disk for security reasons. All this speeds up daily work and benefits the employees. When you need to replace some equipment or in an emergency, it can be done without problems so they can continue with their daily tasks, which in our case, is our main objective.

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