Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dual Boot Imaging with OS X Lion and Windows 7 Without Winclone

It seems I have a lot of traffic coming in to my dual boot process I created with Winclone as the cloning tool. Unfortunately, Winclone is no longer being developed, and it was an imperfect process at best. No, the needed to be a better way to make an image, and I was determined to find it.

Luckily, I had a comment from another user that put me on the scent to Clonezilla. I had another suggestion from our IT manager about using dd as my imaging of choice. Well, I liked the idea of using built in tools with OS X instead of using another operating system, so I gave it a try. I also tried Clonezilla, which is well documented in a previous post. Which did I like? Let me compare them and then I will give you my conclusion.

dd command

I love the command line. It's clean, it's powerful, and it's the reason I loved Mac OS X when I first saw it. S the idea of using a command line tool to do an image was pretty appealing. So, I took my imaged computer (MacBook Pro 2007 with 100 GB hard drive), and gave it a try. After booting up to target disk mode, I ran the dd command on my computer to copy the entire hard drive and then restore. The copy process took 9 hours, as did the restore. It worked perfectly, but the time delay was just too much to make it worth while. I kept the iso file I had created, but continued my search.


Clonezilla is a boot disk that uses Linux, some very clever scripting, and Partclone to create your images. It's similar to Norton Ghost, but unlike Ghost it supports the HFS+ file system native to Mac OS X. I tried two methods: imaging the entire drive with the partitions, and just the Windows partition. Both worked, though I really like the first method for lab deployment. The drawback is the reliance on an install disk or USB key to start the image process.

But the benefits? Huge time savings, even over the NetBoot solution that Apple uses natively. It's not as flexible, but it does handle unicasting better than Apple's tool. How does it do it? By breaking up the install image into multiple tarballs and delivering them as needed to the image. It seems to be a sort of hacked multicasting method, and works very well.

So my method of choice? Clonezilla. If you want the step by step process, check out my previous post on the subject, and let me know what you think. It worked for me and my lab!

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