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I know that it is possible in *nix to clone a hard disk within a machine using DD if=/dev/hda of=/dev/hdb

I am wondering if something similar could be accomplished over a LAN (assuming a decent gigabit switch) with BitTorrent.

Would it be possible to use a "master" with a torrent tracker like Vuze to make a .torrent from the /dev/hda in one box, and then boot multiple other boxes on the LAN from a knoppix or ubuntu liveCD with a client like Transmission to "broadcast" the /dev/hda from the master box to all of the slave boxes?

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Do you actually want to clone (data) disks to other boxes, or are you trying to image other boxes with a working OS? – Joel E Salas May 17 '12 at 0:19
You may find something like Clonezilla a more elegant solution. – jscott May 17 '12 at 0:19
@JoelESalas: Ideally, I would like to have one machine which has been installed and configured with one or more OSs (possibly a dual/tri boot with windows and linux) with software installed and configured as it is needed in a lab, and then copy that disk over the network to approximately 30 machines of the same model. – N. L. May 17 '12 at 1:00
@jscott: You have a point. Clonezilla and multicasting (as mentioned also by MDMarra) might be a solution that is ready "out of the box" instead of the kluge I was thinking of in the back of my head. – N. L. May 17 '12 at 1:01
up vote 7 down vote accepted

What you want is to use an imaging solution that can multicast the image to multiple clients. This way there is only one data stream containing the image that can be read by multiple clients simultaneously. You would PXE boot the clients, they would request the image from the server, then the server would begin sending a multicast stream of the image that all of the clients would grab. Bittorrent is really the wrong solution for this, as it would hammer your network infrastructure. Multicasting reduces this burden.

WDS can do this to distribute Windows images, I'm not sure of the analogous tool for multicasting Linux images, but I'm sure one exists. Possibly CloneZilla?

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clonzilla server would do that i believe – Journeyman Geek May 17 '12 at 0:36
@MDMarra: Clonezilla with multicasting is likely my best bet. WDS is fine for windows, but I was hoping for a more general solution (a disk with multiple partitions including both windows and linux)... I've had odd issues in the past using Ghost over multicast (subsets of machines failing to boot after imaging, and assorted other issues) so multicasting wasn't at the top of my mind when I started thinking about this... – N. L. May 17 '12 at 1:06

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