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Linux mint on a USB stick, can I make system images of it?


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#1 rp88

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Posted 16 October 2016 - 04:07 PM

I bought myself a 32GB USB 3.0 stick, non san-disk brand (san-disk doesn't seem to work for booting when usb 3.0 is used). I've spent some time today booted into a live unetbootin linux mint 17.3 mate operating system run from another USB. Within that live OS I installed linux to an "external hard driv", in my case the 32Gb, non-san-disk, USb 3.0 stick.

I've started using this INSTALLED linux on a USb now, it's working great, REALLY FAST despite it being on a little USB stick it's only marginally slower than windows 8.1 which is installed on the internal HDD.Now I've started doing the settings, and getting linux mint to update and such, once I've got a few more settings the way I like them and a few core programs installed...
I would like to be able to, on another USB stick (preferably a tiny cheap 8gb USB 2.0 drive as I've loads lying around), make a system image.

In other forums I am always going on about how great system images are for windows, I swear by them as being perhaps the most useful thing for disaster/virus/severe-bug recovery. On windows 8.1 I would use the tools to make a system image within the control panel, as shown by the guide at

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/create-system-image-in-windows-7-8/

Is there an equivalent thing I can do for linux mint mate 17.3?

Anything I can do to have perhaps some sort of big (as in several GB) .iso file that I could just burn (using any operating system) to a USB of any size bigger than the iso and that USb would "magically" become a copy of the one I'm booted from right now?

Is there any method like this? The linux mint downloads are iso files and when you write those to cd/dvd discs or USB sticks in the right way you, as far as I can tell, effectively boot up inside a system image that the authors of linux mint made, can I make a thing a bit like that so I can quickly load a linux mint system set up with settings as I like them, a few programs installed, some updates already installed... to any USB?

Do system images for linux mint need one to first boot into a special environment before use (like windows system images need you booted into the recovery environment), or can linux mint images be made in such a way that from any computer running any operating system I can write a special file to USB/external hard-drive/an internal harddrive and the thing it has been written to will become an exact copy of my current install ready to be booted up on any system just like I can with the installed linux USB I made a few hours ago?

Also having a means of making such a thing would let me perhaps, some day when I want to move on from having linux installed on a USB stick, be able to in effect copy my linux system as I'm setting it up now (or as it is the day before I want to transfer it) straight onto a bigger drive without having to redo all the settings and the installation of programs when I do.

If a method does exist please provide a very clear step by step guide, or a link to one, of how to use it, just as the guide I've linked to does for windows system image making.

Sorry If this description is unclear or repetitive but I've only used linux a little (for several months, once or twice a week in live unetbootin USB mode to get a feel for it) so I'm trying to describe my thoughts about what I hope for whilst having a limited knowledge of how to express linux equivalent of the windows concept I've used before.

Thank you

Edited by rp88, 16 October 2016 - 04:15 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

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#2 pcpunk

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Posted 17 October 2016 - 09:42 AM

You may as well read this from "wizardfromoz" in the Tutorials Section.

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/612761/aptik-move-your-linux-to-a-different-drive-or-computer/

 

There are quite a few different ways/tools to use to accomplish this, I won't mention them because I've never used them.  I use Timeshift for Backups of the Root Filesystem.  It's an easy program to use though you will most likely need a little help.  It is supposed to create Clones also which seems to be what you are after, but it did not work for me.  

 

Timeshift seems to be used while the Distro is in use, and from what I've read that is not the best way to do this.  It is better to use a Portable tool, like from a DVD or USB, this way you are Cloning the entire Unmounted System.  Timshift, as far as what I use it for is more like System Restore in Windows.  It keeps Images for you either on your "home" Partiton (if you have one) or to an external Device or some kind.  But these images are ONLY the "root" Filesystem, and none of your Personal Files.  I'll let the Pro's suggest which one to use because I've read various opinions from folks I don't know. 

 

This may not work all that well from one USB to another though.  In fact, if you do this, I would not suggest using a Cheap USB like you suggested, it could be Painfully slow.

 

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#3 rp88

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 01:21 PM

Excuse me, does anyone have further thoughts on this? Thanks
Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#4 pcpunk

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 08:26 PM

Sorry If this description is unclear or repetitive but I've only used linux a little (for several months, once or twice a week in live unetbootin USB mode to get a feel for it) so I'm trying to describe my thoughts about what I hope for whilst having a limited knowledge of how to express linux equivalent of the windows concept I've used before.

Thank you

No disrespect rp, but I've found that perhaps folks don't want to bother with all this because it's just a USB, and it's not worth saving all that stuff when we are noobs.  You might as well just use it and break it, then your next install, hopefully, to an HD will be better setup and worth saving.  And, it is quite a bit of work to explain all of this because it can be done so many ways as you've already suggested" Clone, Backup, Clone to DVD/USB.  As I explained also, it is going to be horrible Backing up to a Cheap USB as I just found out.  Al1000 was nice enough to entertain my needs, but it ended up not being fruitful, although I learned something...and that's why I'm telling you this now.  I now backup root to S75 Lexar 3.0 and it works fine, but now you are trying to go from one USB to another, and the second is a cheapo. 

 

So, if you got another 3.0 USB to save images to we could teach you how to use Timeshift to get some backups/Images of "root"  Then, once you have root imaged you can use that to drop into a new install.  What I mean, is you would have to do a fresh install to another drive, or the same, then drop that image in with all your settings to replace the orig.  This would be simple with Timeshift.  Sorry this is the only way I've done it, though know it can be done other ways.

 

Can you do this to the HDD that you are running this on?  Because doing this Too another USB I'm afraid is going to be PAINFULLY SLOW.

 

I'll wait to hear back as to your ideas, here is a little Tut by wizardfromoz

http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/forums/t/591504/timeshift-clone/#entry3831959


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#5 pcpunk

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 08:37 PM

To keep things simple why don't we just try out Timeshift, unless the Staff has better ideas.  Run these commands in the Terminal one by one.  Don't worry, this is a good program to have even if you don't use it much.

sudo apt-add-repository -y ppa:teejee2008/ppa

Then

sudo apt-get update

Then

sudo apt-get install timeshift

Now you have timeshift installed as long as all went well.  It will be in your Menu Under System Tools.  More later


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#6 technonymous

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 09:30 PM

There is a lot of work to create a custom cd. Here is steps to creating a ubuntu custom install cd..https://help.ubuntu.com/community/InstallCDCustomization

 

That is one of the reasons why I liked Slax linux using slackware type module packages. That and the ability to do pxe server.



#7 rp88

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Posted 01 November 2016 - 06:03 PM

I'm probably confused. Can someone give me explanations of the ideas of the different methods that you actually know of in terms a real noob can understand?
I don't think I even truly get what timeshift or other such things you mention do, are they like system images that windows can make or are they different, does being backups of the root mean they store the whole OS and programs but not user files, or that they only do the core of the OS and not even the programs and settings (of the type one can set within the "control centre" and the settings one can set within individual programs)? What is the most complete sort of backup? What I think I would want to understand at present is how to make some sort of "clone" that would let me store the clone as some sort of .iso like file (and store it in theory on anything) such that the clone could be used to quickly recreate the USb to which linux is now installed, and recreate it in terms of all the settings, programs, ... and in such a way that by writing this iso file to other high speed USB sticks or to hardrives those drives would "suddenly become" copies of the linux system as is on the USb 3.0 stick. Again I might not understand what I'm trying to say here, or might be saying it in a way which experts would read differently from what I am hoping to say. I want to get practice of how to back up systems so that when it comes to using linux as my main OS some day I can have the equivalent of the systems images I have for windows, and be able in disasters to return it to a certain state, but a certain state where I've already done the chaning of settings and installation of some programs rather than have to resort to using a live linux mint usb (unetbootin type) to boot with, then to from within that install linux in factory fresh state to a USb, then boot that new USB and do settings on it.

Maybe timeshift does this, installing it sounds a good idea, Could you please however first explain timeshift's capabilities n terms I might understand, in terms of the descriptions I've given in various posts here which one is most similar to what timeshift does? Cab timeshift make something like an iso file that one could use to be able to "hold a whole system in a file and be able to have a new USb with linux installed and set up as I have set it up just by burning that iso to the thing one wants to install linux onto?" (this might be described as a "bare metal" backup, one that can be used to recreate the old system using only a single "file", a USB(a fast, large, 3.0 one)/hard-drive to install the system onto and a working computer (any computer) to do the "copying" of file onto USB/hard-drive with), or is timeshift more like "can return a damaged linux system to original state as long as some traces of the system remain on the USB it was installed on". How does partitioning affect all this?

Edited by rp88, 01 November 2016 - 06:04 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#8 pcpunk

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 06:37 PM

Looks like this is dying a little, I'll provide you with a little reading material.  One of the most popular Cloning tools that I know of, though you can do this with Timeshift also, just I've never done it.  

http://clonezilla.org/

 

Here is Timeshift literature

http://www.teejeetech.in/2014/09/timeshift-v16.html

 

rp88, remember this, from what I understand, it's not always the best thing to Clone to another computer that has different Hardware.  I think you will run into Hardware Driver/Compatibility issues in some cases.  The thing is, how important is it to do this for you, it may cost you a lot of time to do it and then end up with nothing.  Or maybe it will be fruitful and you can install the Clone to the computer that it was setup for?  


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#9 pcpunk

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 06:58 PM

Here is another that I may try soon called Remastersys at maketecheasier.  


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#10 technonymous

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Posted 02 November 2016 - 08:05 PM

Looks like this is dying a little, I'll provide you with a little reading material.  One of the most popular Cloning tools that I know of, though you can do this with Timeshift also, just I've never done it.  

http://clonezilla.org/

 

Here is Timeshift literature

http://www.teejeetech.in/2014/09/timeshift-v16.html

 

rp88, remember this, from what I understand, it's not always the best thing to Clone to another computer that has different Hardware.  I think you will run into Hardware Driver/Compatibility issues in some cases.  The thing is, how important is it to do this for you, it may cost you a lot of time to do it and then end up with nothing.  Or maybe it will be fruitful and you can install the Clone to the computer that it was setup for?  

Yes, hardware issues is a very good point to bring up. Another thing that hasn't been brought up is licensing issues.



#11 rp88

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 12:30 PM

Hardware issues, how? Doesn't a linux installation work on any relatively compatible machine, I didn't think linux had to have different drivers for running on different systems, it certainly doesn't when you make a live USB.

Thanks for the links.

Licensing issues, everything on here is open source software so none of those.

Edited by rp88, 11 November 2016 - 12:30 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#12 rp88

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 12:55 PM

Ok, I've read briefly over the clonezilla stuff. It looks confusing. Because of the number of USB ports I have, my lack of an internal optical drive and my inability to put the USB ports into any kind of individual order in the BIOS/UEFI settings I don't think it's the thing for me. I'm just reading about timeshift now, is it another thing that has to be specially booted or is it something that you can run from within linux? Given the line "You can clone the OS on your desktop to a portable hard disk and take it with you when you travel. Boot from the hard disk on a laptop or another desktop to use your cloned system" this might be what I think I was hoping to find a way to do. because if I can do what is described there then I can make copies of the USB on which linux is installed so if the USB in question dies I can just use an identical copy not have to make a whole new one. What I'm not sure of though is whether timeshift will copy over things like settings and installed programs or whether it will only do some sort of copying the underlying OS. That remastersys sounds interesting too.
Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#13 Al1000

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 05:09 PM

Hardware issues, how? Doesn't a linux installation work on any relatively compatible machine, I didn't think linux had to have different drivers for running on different systems, it certainly doesn't when you make a live USB.


A live USB performs checks on hardware during the boot process and loads suitable drivers, whereas a Linux installation expects to see the hardware that was used for the installation; drivers for that hardware are installed.

In this respect, a Linux installation (on whatever media) has more in common with a Windows installation, than with a live Linux USB.

#14 rp88

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Posted 17 November 2016 - 05:05 PM

Thanks for clarifying that AI1000, never realised that before.
Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#15 wizardfromoz

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Posted 20 November 2016 - 01:03 AM

Hi rp88

 

I am working (very broadly speaking) on duplicating your circumstances, in order to best advise.

 

Below is what I have got so far. "Hermes" is my Acer Aspire Z5761 AIO in the Garage, 8GB RAM, i7 processor, 2TB HDD:

 

 


 

MyInput


On Hermes:

  • dd'ed a LM17.3 MATE onto stick
  • formatted an equal Cruzer 8GB
  • Put a full install of target Distro on stick. Note – searches out other Distros on Hermes and buggers up regular boot (goes to grub prompt)
  • Q. without having to disconnect HDD, could this have been avoided by unmounting all other Distro partitions prior to install? ACTION – f/u
  • INSTALL NOTE – took probably an hour or more to install USB to USB half or more of this time was expended in just copying the files from one to the other
  • on full install stick (hereafter referred to as LM17USB) installed GParted.
  • GParted reports as follows:
  • ie 1.29GB remaining, note false swap reading 4KiB. Swap can likely be dispensed with, see Performance.
  • I have not installed updates as yet, as I do not know whether I will keep this stick as is.
  • NOTE ON GPARTED SHOT – shot taken (obviously) after GParted was installed. GParted Live is only around 300MB, so GParted installed likely consumes less space.
  • Security and Networking -
    • enabled ufw and allowed ports 21 and 22
    • used Caja to connect to server and established folder sharing with Toshiba in Study via SSH
  • Performance – sluggish at best, slow as a wet week at worst

QUESTIONS FOR THE OP – rp88:

  1. While using your Linux stick please go to Terminal and type and enter <df -h> and report the output
  2. Please let me know how many available ports and bays you have for removable media, that is, USB ports and Optical Drive

 

If you could answer those questions at the bottom at your convenience that would be appreciated

 

:wizardball: Wizard

 

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