I tried to use KNOPPIX to prepare an image for a Dell Inspiron 530S machine the other day. When I booted the machine up using the KNOPPIX CD, I got this message “Can’t find KNOPPIX filesystem, sorry. Dropping you to a (very limited) shell.”. Usually, if I use the failsafe option, it would run, but not this time. I found some suggestions that using nodma option to boot the system might help. It didn’t work either. Actually, I should have known that it’s not gonna work because the failsafe boot option already includes nodma option.
The CD/DVD drive of the system is SATA, not IDE. I suspected this is the cause of the problem. This can be fixed by using an up to date version of boot disc with new dirvers. The version of KNOPPIX I have is 5.1.1 which is the latest, but it has not been updated for over a year. The new version is coming out this year in June, but I need one now. I then started looking for other LiveCD to do imaging.
I found this SystemRescueCd page. The project has been updated recently and it has GParted and Partimage that I need. The NTFS support is experimental for Partimage, but it worked perfectly for me. The trick is to defrag your NTFS partition before imaging. The saving process of the 150 GB(8 GB used) image took about 15 minutes. The restoring process only took about 4 minutes! When I used Norton Ghost, I had the problems that a lot of time some devices are not recognize by the boot disc and the restoring process takes a long time. Not to mention, I had to buy the program.