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I've tried Norton Ghost 15 and Acronis Snap Deploy so far without success, as neither support the Broadcom NIC of the Vostro 230 desktop. If it's possible to make it work, I have failed to work out how!

So I would like to know if anyone is able to create and deploy hard disk images via SMB share to these desktops, and how they did it. A solution using PXE is ideal, but I don't mind using a boot CD.

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Are you using WinPE to PXE, or CD/DVD, boot? You can easily update the WIM to contain new drivers for the NIC and AHCI controller. We had this issue with the Vosto 320s (not 230s) and Lenovo A70Zs, which share NIC make/model. –  jscott Sep 8 '10 at 15:10
    
Not using WinPE, just commercial tools. I used the PXE server in Acronis purely to save burning a CD, it's not a major requirement. –  James C Sep 8 '10 at 16:17
    
I thought Acronis had the ability to install drivers from an alternate source as one of the restore options? Is that not the case? –  joeqwerty Sep 8 '10 at 16:20
    
It doesn't have such an option in the GUI, from what I gather from their forum the drivers have to be integrated in the bootdisk before you begin. How to do this is apparently kept secret unless you PM their staff and wait... –  James C Sep 9 '10 at 9:36

2 Answers 2

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I'd look into Clonezilla it offers both PXE and live CD options, and I have heard great reviews, though only used it as a liveCD myself.

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I'll give this a go, thanks. –  James C Sep 8 '10 at 15:58
    
Clonezilla is working just great! Simple and fast, just what I needed :) –  James C Sep 9 '10 at 9:38

If these are all the exact same model, you could try something like a Linux boot disc and use DD over Netcat to make a block-by-block copy of the drives, assuming the boot disc sees your network card. I use Rescue-is-Possible (RIP) Linux and sometimes have to run netconfig to get it to see the network properly but I've had good luck with it.

I've also used Partimage with RIP to make and copy down imaged drives.

I also use RIP to copy to and from SMB shares using samba to mount the share. I create a directory under /mnt and stick the file share there and then use that as a destination for the image.

Partimage takes some getting used to since it's rough on the edges. If you use DD you could just image it directly to the share piping it through gzip to compress it, then decompress it on the download to a new system.

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