My Experience with Free Ghost (FOG)

Fog is a Linux-based, free and open source computer imaging solution for Windows XP and Vista that ties together a few open-source tools with a php-based web interface. Fog doesn’t use any boot disks, or CDs; everything is done via TFTP and PXE. Also with fog many drivers are built into the kernel, so you don’t really need to worry about drivers (unless there isn’t a linux kernel module for it). Fog also supports putting an image that came from a computer with a 80GB partition onto a machine with a 40GB hard drive as long as the data is less than 40GB.
Fog also includes a graphical Windows service that is used to change the hostname of the PC, restart the computer if a task is created for it, and auto import hosts into the FOG database. The service also installs printers, and does simple snap-ins.


I first heard about FOG on FLOSS Weekly. At that time the school where i work as a system admin and which runs ubuntu on all our computers decided to setup our only windows lab. So it was a great coincident and I decided to give it a try since it would just be what i need in setting up the windows lab. Downloading and installing FOG was quite easy and straight forward, however using it was quite another story.

The first time i had problems uploading an image. I uploaded the image i wanted to clone using the web interface i reboot and told the computer to boot from PXE. Everything worked till an error cames up about not been able to move image due to some php error ( something like that) i couldn’t take down the error code because it was very long and on a computer terminal, guess there was a problem some were with the config file.

Anyway i decided to do a fresh install (reinstalling both the machine and fog) and this time around NFS wont start .. i checked everything that could be wrong but couldn’t trouble shoot the problem, So i did another fresh install (reinstalling machine and fog) i went for ubuntu 8.10 server this time around. and lucky for me everything worked. i loaded the web interface and setup the images (following the guide) but when its time to upload an image i got an error

“Warning: ftp_login() [function.ftp-login]: This FTP server is anonymous only. in /var/www/fog/commons/functions.include.php on line 2266”

I followed followed what was posed here but the problem still remained.. so i decided to do another machine install like in previous times formating the machine and install fog again… still the same problem .. so i said ok let me go back to hardy .. i formated the server and installed ubuntu 8.04 .. same problem .. googling the problem showed this post in the fog user forums which is the exact problem am having.. but that didnt help much than to give me the feeling of “ok its not a problem with me and am not alone”

I am not good with php or infact any web programing so its hard getting the problem solved .. getting support in the forum from previous experience as yielded very little help. but i have posted my problem there just in case a good hearted person lend me a hand

In conclusion .. FOG is a great project with lots of advantages over many cloning solution out there free or proprietary. and the fact that its works for majority of users shows how much of a quality product it is. well it didn’t work for me but that doesn’t remove the fact that its a great product .. unfortunately i wont be able to use it.. and would either have to install every computer for the windows lab by hand or have to buy Norton ghost to do the job 🙁 .. because days spent trouble shooting FOG as kept me behind schedule. I will definitely give it another try maybe when a newer version is released.

I just want to thank the developers of this project for putting out such an awesome software … it has a lot of potential and am sure once the little bugs are fixed will become a standard for cloning windows. i really wish the community would come out and help these guys so that they don’t get to do everything by them selves. FOG needs a better community Infrastructure (a better forum maybe) and an IRC presence so that people with problems can easily go there and the community and help each other.

Also would be nice if FOG could re-master Ubuntu or Fedora to create a single install image which contains the base OS plus a pre-configured version of FOG all in one cd. something like we have in freeNAS .. now that would be great and make it more dead easy to install. like a install and forget experience.

I would like to donate to this project in my next payday .. maybe pay for a better forum host .. if they are interested

Just want you guys to keep up the great work you are doing for the community.

Subscribe to True Colours

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.