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g4u 2.6 released (fwd)
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 8 Jun 2017 16:26:34 +0200 (CEST)
From: Hubert Feyrer <hubert%feyrer.de@localhost>
Cc: g4u-help%feyrer.de@localhost, Hubert Feyrer <hubert%feyrer.de@localhost>
Subject: g4u 2.6 released
After a five-year period for beta-testing and updating, I have finally released
g4u 2.6. With its origins in 1999, I'd like to say:
Happy 18th Birthday, g4u!
g4u ("ghosting for unix") is a NetBSD-based bootfloppy/CD-ROM that allows easy
cloning of PC harddisks to deploy a common setup on a number of PCs using FTP.
The floppy/CD offers two functions. The first is to upload the compressed image
of a local harddisk to a FTP server, the other is to restore that image via
FTP, uncompress it and write it back to disk. Network configuration is fetched
via DHCP. As the harddisk is processed as an image, any filesystem and
operating system can be deployed using g4u. Easy cloning of local disks as well
as partitions is also supported.
When I started g4u, I had the task to install a number of lab machines with a
dual-boot of Windows NT and NetBSD. The hype was about Microsoft's "Zero
Administration Kit" (ZAK) then, but that did barely work for the Windows part -
file transfers were slow, depended on the clients' hardware a lot (requiring
fiddling with MS DOS network driver disks), and on the ZAK server the files for
installing happened do disappear for no good reason every now and then. Not
working well, and leaving out NetBSD (and everything elase), I created g4u.
This gave me the (relative) pain of getting things working once, but with the
option to easily add network drivers as they appeared in NetBSD (and oh they
did!), plus allowed me to install any operating system.
We've used g4u successfully in our labs then, booting from CDROM. I also got
many donations from public and private instituations plus comanies from many
sectors, indicating that g4u does make a difference.
In the mean time, the world has changed, and CDROMs aren't used that much any
more. Network boot and USB sticks are today's devices of choice, cloning of a
full disk without knowing its structure has both advantages but also
disadvantages, and g4u's user interface is still command-line based with not
much space for automation. For storage, FTP servers are nice and fast, but
alternatives like SSH/SFTP, NFS, iSCSI and SMB for remote storage plus local
storage (back to fun with filesystems, anyone? avoiding this was why g4u was
created in the first place!) should be considered these days. Further aspects
include integrity (checksums), confidentiality (encryption). This leaves a
number of open points to address either by future releases, or by other
At this point, my time budget for g4u is very limited. I welcome people to
contribute to g4u - g4u is Open Source for a reason. Feel free to get back to
me for any changes that you want to contribute!
Major changes in g4u 2.6 include:
* Make this build with NetBSD-current sources as of 2017-04-17 (shortly
before netbsd-8 release branch), binaries were cross-compiled from Mac
OS X 10.10
* Many new drivers, bugfixes and improvements from NetBSD-current (see
beta1 and beta2 announcements)
* Go back to keeping the disk image inside the kernel as ramdisk, do not
load it as separate module. Less error prone, and allows to boot the
g4u (NetBSD) kernel from a single file e.g. via PXE (Testing and
documentation updates welcome!)
* Actually DO provide the g4u (NetBSD) kernel with the embedded g4u disk
image from now on, as separate file, g4u-kernel.gz
* In addition to MD5, add SHA512 checksums
Please see the g4u homepage's download section on how to get and use g4u.
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