Recently I needed to quickly reinstall a laptop for a user who’s operating system had crashed and was unrecoverable. This task took much longer than I could have liked because I had to do by hand; I had no computer imaging software setup. This is where Fog comes in. The Fog Project is a Free Computer Cloning Solution. I expect to be able to cut the time it takes to image and setup a computer by ½ or better. Initially it will take some time to get all of the images prepared and loaded onto the Fog server, but once that is finished any similar laptop will be able to have the image pushed to it quickly. So how does this all work?
The initial setup was a breeze. I went to their sitehttp://www.fogproject.org and downloaded the fog VM version 0.27. Then I installed Oracle’s VM VirtualBox, a freeware Virtual Machine host that will run on MAC, Windows, or Linux. Now I just created a new VM on VirtualBox and pointed it the Virtual Hard Drive that I downloaded and it with one little processor option checked I had a bootable instance of Fog Server.
Once you have booted up the Fog server you will be walked through a couple initial setup tasks like setting the IP, Mask, Gateway and DNS. Then the initial setup will install and configure the components for you. Now the current version of Fog is 0.29, so on the menu screen there is an update option. Choose this and Fog will updates to the latest Version. There is also an Ubuntu update option, as this VM is running on Ubuntu Server. I chose to do these first so that my server software and Fog version were fully up to date when I started. Since I am running a Linux DHCP I also had to add the following lines to the dhcpd.conf file to get a PC to PXE boot to the server:
Now we are ready to start inventorying and capturing the images using the Fog server. First I would like to say that I foundhttp://www.petri.co.il/windows-image-deployment-with-fog.htm# very helpful. Second, a feature that I neglected to mention until now, is the web interface, which is where majority of the work is done when working with the server. to access the interface you will just go to http://<fogserverIP>/fog/management and log in with the credentials provided at the end of the setup. There are defaults for each of the Items needed, such as a storage group and a storage node already setup for you. I setup my own matching the default settings which were more descriptive.
My process to Capture an Image is as follows. First, I do a fresh install of the Windows Operating system of my choice. Next, I make sure that it is fully updated with Windows and Microsoft updates. Then, I install any desired software on the Computer. Lastly, I willSysPrep the Computer so that you can manually setup the each for a the desired user. The SysPrep process will have shut the computer down. Now you will want to perform a PXE boot to the Fog Server. For the PC to be captured I will run a Quick Host Registration from the menu. This will gather information about the PC and send it to the fog server. Now from the Fog server you will find this Host listed under the hosts tab. You can add information about there if you like. Now, you need to create an image name to assign to that host. Something like “Dell Precision M4300” to make sure you will be able to discern it from the rest. Now the way the Fog server works is that tasks are put into a queue and when the computer, who's task is pending, PXE boots then it starts that task. So in the task menu you will want to start the upload for the desired host. Lastly just reboot the PC to the Fog server and it will start the upload process automatically.
Deploying would work the same way. Inventory the host computer first. Then set the Image, which already exists, and choose download instead of upload on the Task menu. Done.
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