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I am trying to recover from a dvd that was made for me using Symantec Ghost software. The GHO file was burned onto a dvd using windows explorer and not the ghost client. We are getting an error trying to recover from the dvd, I don't know the error message though (I am offsite). My local IT tech over there is telling me

You cannot burn a flat .GHO file to a CD and then try to ghost with it, GHOST Discs must be created using GHOST.

What I would like to know is if this is true or not.

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Do you know the version of GHOST used to create the file. – Dave M Feb 24 '10 at 19:35
It was done via Altiris 6.5, any idea what version of ghost is uses? – Eric P Feb 24 '10 at 19:36
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Copy the .gho file to another location, such as a network share. Put the ghost.exe file with it. (assuming you have it) Make a Netbootdisk, boot, map the share and try to pull it that way. I have imaged countless machines like that.

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First, the business editions of Ghost (i.e., those in Ghost Solution Suite or current editions of Altiris Deployment Solution, but not the consumer "Norton Ghost" products which nowadays do not include genuine Ghost) can restore images from DVD which were burned by third-party software, but if you are using DOS instead of the Windows PE or Linux Ghost executables then there are some things you have to be aware of.

Almost all current third-party software by default writes CD/DVD's using long Unicode file names using a Microsoft extension to the ISO 9660 standard for CD/DVD filesystems. This extension is called Joliet, and one consequence of using it is that the burning software will synthesise random-looking short 11-character (also known as 8.3) filenames for DOS systems to use, as DOS cannot use Unicode characters or long file names (OS's such as Windows PE and Linux hide those short names from view if Joliet extensions are present so many people these days don't know the short DOS-format names exist).

In a restore done under DOS, the MSCDEX system can only see the 8.3 filenames which are defined by ISO 9660 Level 1 specifically for older operating systems like DOS. Although Ghost.exe when used with the "@CD" mode of restoring can access CD/DVD without using MSCDEX, it is written to the same ISO 9660 Level 1 specification and also expects the image files to be written with 8.3 filenames, and as well expects the files to be numbered correctly; if you burn the CD/DVD with a third-party tool and don't take steps to ensure the DOS short file names are suitable, they will not match what Ghost is expecting and the restore will fail.

By the way, Altiris Deployment Solution 6.5 does not include Ghost so that doesn't determine which version of Ghost is involved; Altiris DS 6.5 came with the RapidDeploy cloning engine included, not Ghost. While many pre-acquisition Altiris DS customers were using Ghost in preference to RapidDeploy, doing so required a separate purchase of licenses of Ghost Solution Suite from Symantec to match the number of machines being imaged with Deployment Solution.

[ As RapidDeploy is now deprecated, Symantec does now license the current versions of the Ghost components as part of Deployment Solution 7.x and there is a license program for it for DS 6.9 customers via the more recent Service Packs, a DS 6.5 customer using Ghost would have purchased Ghost Solution Suite from Symantec separately. ]

Since your friend will presumably have a licensed copy of Ghost Solution Suite (and intended to count your restore under their GSS license count, as all Ghost restores require a license be attached to the machine you restore to), he or she can use that to build a Windows PE boot environment to access the DVD containing the .GHO file(s) in question. Ghost Solution Suite contains its own licensed version of Windows PE 2.0 for this purpose, and a Linux boot environment as well, and both Windows PE and Linux support the Joliet filesystem extensions which will let you restore the image without running into problems with DOS short filenames.

While Dan's suggestion above may work, bear in mind that DOS restrictions still apply; over a network share, files are limited to short file names and a 2Gb limit in file size, so restoring via this method can still be pretty awkward if the image is large as the short file names can again not match the DOS conventions.

Using Windows PE or Linux for this is generally much easier than trying to use a DOS-based boot disk, especially since many network cards in modern machines are not usable from DOS either due to lack of drivers, problems with IRQ assignment, and the like. In addition, neither of these OS's force you to consider the existence of short file names, which these days is specific to DOS.

[ Full disclosure: I am a developer of Ghost employed by Symantec. ]

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