Clonezilla and DRBL

R. Scott Belford scott at
Tue Sep 16 02:16:33 BST 2008

On Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 11:32 AM, Gavin McCullagh <gmccullagh at>wrote:
> Be very careful!  DRBL will stomp all over your ltsp config.  A colleague
> of mine recently installed DRBL on an LTSP server and seriously regretted
> it.
> By all means use DRBL/Clonezilla (although also look at FOG):
> but do it on a non-production machine, not on your LTSP server.
> Gavin <>

DRBL is an acronym for Diskless Remote Boot in Linux.  It is a project that
can convert any of the following

   - Debian Woody(3.0), Sarge(3.1), Etch(4.0), Lenny (5.0),
   - Ubuntu Breezy(5.10), Dapper(6.06), Edgy(6.10), Feisty(7.04), Gutsy
   (7.10), Hardy(8.04),
   - B2D,
   - RedHat Linux 8.0, 9,
   - Fedora Core 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, Fedora 7, Fedora 8,
   - Mandrake 9.2, 10.0, 10.1, Mandriva LE2005 (10.2), 2006, 2007.0, 2007.1,
   - CentOS 4, CentOS 5,
   - Scientific Linux 4.x/5.x, RHEL 4.x/5.x (Use

   - SuSE 9.3, SuSE 10.0, OpenSuSE 10.0, 10.1, 10.2. 10.3,

into what most on this list understand to be a Thin Client Server or a LTSP
server.  You definitely want to use one or the other, or dual-boot, if you
want to try them on the same box.  If you want to use a DRBL server and and
Edubuntu LTSP server on the same LAN, both will be answering PXE/Etherboot
requests, so don't.  Clonezilla is an application that you can run from the
DRBL console or from a Live CD.  It is used for multicast or unicast system
or patition imaging and resizing.  In some setups I support, we have a
thin-client server, but power it down and bring up the DRBL server when
doing mass, multicast system imaging with Clonezilla.  In other scenarios I
leave both running, but keep the the DRBL LAN NIC disconnected.  Then I can
use a live Clonezilla CD to pull images from the DRBL server in a unicast

Some may wonder about the differences between LTSP and DRBL.  From the DRBL

DRBL uses PXE or etherboot, which is similar to Linux Terminal Server
Project (LTSP) <>, to boot the client machine. While LTSP
is a centralized server, all the client machine users' access the LTSP
server to run their applications on it. The client's keyboard and mouse are
used to input whereas the client's monitor is used to display the results.
This is great when useing a thin client. The server requirements must be
increased when more than 20 or 30 clients are being used. On the other hand,
DRBL uses NFS and NIS to provide boot services to the client machines. In
essence, the DRBL server is just a NFS and NIS server. All users from all
client machines just access the DRBL server to request files or
authentication. Packages are loaded to the client machines and they use
their own CPU and RAM for processing. A regular PC can be used as the DRBL
server since it is only serving files and authenticating. The client
machines, however, should be powerful enough to run the applications they
need. Typical installations using DRBL to deploy the Linux classroom have
around 30 to 40 clients.
///NOTE/// From LTSP 5.0, there is a fat client (diskless workstation,
LowFat client) mode, it's basically quite similar to DRBL.
Besides the diskless (fat/powerful) client mode provided by DRBL, DRBL
provides other functions, such as:
(a) Clonezilla <>, the opensource clone system.
It's a server version of imaging tool, similar to Ghost server edition, True
image or Rembo. By using Clonezilla, you can clone a 5.6 GBytes system image
to 40 computers within 10 minutes via multicasting.
(b) Small Linux diskless soltion. DRBL provides Damn Small Linux (DSL),
PuppyLinux... for clients. You can import those small Linux distributions
and let client boot from PXE without hardisk, CD or USB flash drive.
(c) Diskless FreeDOS for clients.
(d) Diskless memtest for clients.
(e) Install GNU/Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, Mandriva, SuSE...)
for clients from network.
LTSP and DRBL each have their own benefits. Choose the one that is best
suited to your needs.

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