Machine Imaging With Fog – Usage Walkthrough

In the last article, I went over how to setup your very own Fog imaging server from scratch.  In this next installment, I’ll walk you through getting your first image setup and saved.

First thing we’re going to do is make one tweak to the settings so log back into the Fog web management.  Once we are logged in, click on on the blue question mark from the top menu.  This is where we access the Fog configuration.

System Settings Step 1

From the menu on the left, select “FOG Settings”.

System Settings Step 2

You’ll see a list of different configuration areas that do different things.  What we are going to focus on is under “General Settings”.  It is the 9th item from the bottom.  Click that to expand that configuration area.  The one setting we will be changing is the “FOG_HOST_LOOKUP” setting.  We will be disabling it.

System Settings Step 3

What that does, it when you click on “List All Hosts” under the host section, it will try to ping every one you have.  This sounds great it theory until you have 40 machines inventoried on your Fog server with some that are offline.  It will make the system nearly unusable.  So we disable it.

The next step is to create in the image in the system.  Click on the icon at the top that looks kind of like a picture frame.

Image Creation Step 1

This will take us into the image management section of Fog.  From here, you will select “Create New Image” from the main menu.

Image Creation Step 2

There are some basic things that we need to tell the system about our image.  We have to give it a name.  Naming convention is really up to you.  Name your images so that they will make sense to you.  Also I highly suggest you fill in a description so a year from now you know what that image was for.  Since we have a very basic setup, “Storage Group” will remain the default.  The same goes for “Image Path”.  I will generally not change that either.  Be sure to select the correct operating system.

Image Creation Step 3

The last option needs a little bit of explanation.  “Single Disk – Resizable – (1)” is just how it sounds with one caveat.  It only allows for one partition.  If you are installing Windows from scratch to be able to sysprep it, you will generally be OK.  Where this will not work, is with an OEM factory install.  They typically will do multiple partitions to include a restore partition and some other random partitions.  If you are wanting to image one of these machines for backup purposes or to do a hard drive swap, you will need to select one of the other options.  I typically will do “Multiple Partition Image – Single Disk (Not Resizable) – (2)” just to cover all bases.  If you have a machine with multiple drives, you can select the “Multiple Partition Image – Multiple Disks (Not Resizable) – (3)”. Why this is important to go over is the “resizable” or “not resizable”.  For the first option, you can restore the image to a disk that was smaller than the original as long as it is large enough to hold the data from the original image.  The other options do not allow for this and must be restored on an identical drive from the original.  Where this could bite you is if you want to replace someone’s hard drive with a SSD.  The drive geometry on them is slightly different than the traditional mechanical drives so it is technically smaller, hence the need to be able to resize the partition on restore.  The last option, I do not have a use case for.  I have never used it and don’t know of any reasons why you would.

Image Type

Now that we have that handled, it’s time to register our first host with the server.  To do this, you will want to boot the machine from the network that you want to image(or in this case, the machine with the master image that we want to save).  You will be presented with a menu once it boots and what we want is a quick inventory just to get it registered.

Host Registration

Once selected it will scroll through some information that is pulls from the BIOS that it will send to the Fog server.  Once this is finished, it will reboot.  Be sure to power off the machine before it starts to boot into Windows.  Assuming you sysprepped it, you don’t want it booting until the master image has been saved.

Now that your machine is registered, we need to update it’s information in Fog with some additional details.  From the top menu, click on host management.

Host Management Step 1

From the left menu, select “List All Hosts”.  Once you have multiple hosts, you can just as easily do a search.  The only issue with this is when you do a quick registration, it names the record the MAC address of the machine so not really that easy to search for.  What I typically do is list all hosts and sort by image and find the machine that doesn’t have an image assigned yet.  You can click on the name of the host or the edit button to go into the properties of the host.

Host Management Edit 1

From here, you will want to change the host name to something meaningful.  I will name the host in Fog the same as the PC name the machine will have once it is joined to the domain just so everything matches.  You can optionally put in a description or the product key if you want.  I leave all the fields default as I do not use this system for inventory, only imaging.  The important part of this step is to tell Fog what image is to be used for this host.  From the drop down, select the image that you created that will be used for this machine.  Once you are done, click on the update button to save your changes.

Host Management Edit 2

Now that Fog knows what image to use, click on “Basic Tasks” from the left menu for this host.

Host Imageing Step 1

This will bring up the basic tasks section for the host where we tell the system what we want to do with it.  Since we will be saving a brand new image from the master machine, we will select upload.

Host Imageing Step 2

We will want to schedule instant deployment and then click on the create upload task button.

Host Imageing Step 3

Once the create button is clicked, it will give us a confirmation message.  From here, click on the task management icon at the top to list the scheduled and active tasks.

Host Imageing Step 4

Now, you can go back to the machine you are wanting to image(again, in this case, saving an image from it), power up the machine and boot to the network again.  It will automatically start the image process as the Fog server determines what machine it is by MAC address.  Why this is important is you could image multiple machines with different images and the server can keep track of it and send the correct image to the correct machine.

In the Fog management console, progress will update under task management as the process completes.  You can check percentages and ETAs by mousing over the progress bar.

Image Progress

On the machine being imaged, you will also see progress displayed.

Image Progress 2

Once the upload completes, you are ready to register more hosts and download the image to them.  The process for that is the same as the upload but instead of selecting “Upload” from basics tasks, you will select “Download”.  All other steps are the same.

We have now gone through the installation and setup of your new Fog server, and walked through saving your first image.  You are now in a great spot for all the new machines that you need to deploy and will have it done in no time now.

Please feel free to leave any comments, suggestions, and criticisms.  Thanks for visiting and I’ll see you soon.

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Machine Imaging With Fog – Usage Walkthrough