I am looking for a program that would let me image HDDs in my test lab and
restore them, either completely or just a few first partitions. I don't mind
buying it (although freeware would be preferred of course) but I don't want
to buy an OS to host this program on, so I would like to use FreeBSD for
this project. I have modest experience with versions 4.7, 4.8 and 5.1 of
FreeBSD and no bandwidth to stay current with version 5.1, so 5.1 released
on the CDs is the latest version that I have. It works reasonably well in my
test lab; it panics on reboot (shutdown -r) when I enable MP support on a
test server with two "server Tualatin" processors but I can live with the
standard kernel just fine.

The data I am going to image are just test servers that store no valuable
data so strictly speaking this is not vital data to me, I need this program
just to speed up the setup, not for backup purposes (and to get rid of the
HDDs in removable racks with different versions of various operating systems
lying everywhere in my lab). However, I would prefer not to use beta
software in this project because I need to use the time I get because of the
improvement in speed for purposes other than helping the author find and fix
bugs in the software. The software should be able to image partitions of any
type, not just DOS/NTFS/etc like most commercial software does, compress the
image well, because a typical test server in my lab occupies 5-15 GB that
need to be imaged, and be smart enough to not compress the remaining free
space on the disks (the typical HDD sizes in my lab start at 80 GB so I'd
definitely not want to image the free space). The current number of servers
is about 20 and of course it tends to grow.

It would be nice to be able to image SCSI disks as well but almost all my
HDDs except 2 are IDE. It would also be nice to be able to restore not the
entire disk but just several partitions from it (yes, I believe I understand
the possible consequences) but this is not critical for me. I searched the
Packages and Ports collections, the documentation and the Internet
(including archives of these lists) but found nothing that would (a) work on
FreeBSD, (b) is not in the beta state, (c) can image everything and (d)
compresses the images and does not image the free space. I suspect that
there is a simple approach that does not require a third-party program at
all (why did I get so many links to DD command? <g>) but I cannot figure out
how to image the first 15 GB off a 80 GB HDD with DD and restore it to
another (larger or smaller) HDD. I don't mind performing some arithmetic
like in Greg Lehey's "The Complete FreeBSD" in the chapter about disks, I
think I just need some enlightenment.

Thank you in advance for any help you can provide

P.S. I am not on the list, don't forget to copy me.


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