Portable FOG Server

Professionally, I am a “Network Engineer” for an IT Services provider, which leads me to be a jack of all trades, and a master of none. One of the tasks that our group occasionally runs across is the deployment of desktops and laptops. Most of our clients are not huge (thus lacking an IT Department), but we are occasionally asked to deploy a large number of workstations. This can be a long and repetitious job, or this can be a quick experience, where the work load is just a foggy memory. Let me explain…

The FOG Project http://www.fogproject.org/ is an open source cloning solution, that allows you to PXE boot computers, and downloaded images from the FOG server. One could build a VM, but I carry a laptop with SSD storage, with disk space at a premium. I perused through my collection of disavowed equipment and came across an underpowered “thin client” that was heading to the recycle bin: an ASUS EB1030.

The ASUS has an atom processor, and was shipped with 1GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD. Cracking the case open, I was able to upgrade the memory to 4GB and throw in an old 640GB laptop hard drive. Now I had the storage I needed. My plan for the little box is to allow it to serve out IP’s via DHCP, and connect it to a simple switch (Trendnet green 8 port Gigabit switch), for my own private imaging network. All of this would easily fit in a shoebox.

I installed the 32bit version of Ubuntu Server 14.04LTS on the ASUS EB1030, updated it, and set a static IP address. For the FOG installation, open your terminal:

cd /opt/

wget the latest version (1.2.0 at posting):

sudo wget http://downloads.sourceforge.net/freeghost/fog_1.2.0.tar.gz
sudo tar -zxvf fog_1.2.0.tar.gz
cd fog_1.2.0/bin/
sudo ./installfog.sh

Set up your FOG Server to your preferences – I elected to install the DHCP server so I could set up my own little imaging network.

The installer is actually very clear and self explanatory.

Once you log into the FOG web interface, you need to create your initial image. I elected to clone an initial Windows 7 Professional 32 bit install, with updates, but prior to a Sysprep. This would provide me with my base 32bit image.

FOG Image Management

I will then repeat the process for a 64bit Windows 7 image, and so on. Using these base images, we could then build images based on manufacturers with the appropriate drivers, or build separate images for different clients. This will allow us to install applications specific to clients and reduce our workload even further.

In my initial test, it appeared I could push out an 11GB image within a 15 minute window.

FOG image download

I would recommend further reading on the use of an answer file (Unattend.xml) for sysprep:

http://theitbros.com/sysprep-a-windows-7-machine-%E2%80%93-start-to-finish/

and further reading on a Windows client setup at the FOG Project:

http://www.fogproject.org/wiki/index.php/Client_Setup#Install_Windows

The whole kit and caboodle, ready to image the world:

Portable FOG setup


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