We got another Compaq Proliant DL320 in at work. This one’s a Windows 2000 print server (grumble grumble–we’ve been playing with HP’s Linux-based print appliances and so far I really like them).

But anyway, since rebuilding a Windows server is a much bigger deal than rebuilding a Linux server (all our other DL320s run Debian Linux), we tried building a recovery image with Ghost.

Only one problem: Ghost 7.5 doesn’t see the DL320’s IDE drives. DOS sees them just fine. But Ghost 7.5 doesn’t see them, and neither did MBRWork, a freeware partition-recovery tool that’s saved my bacon a few times. There’s something odd going on here.

In desperation, I dug out an old copy of Ghost 5.1c I found on our network. It’s from mid-1999. Oddly enough, 5.1c sees the Proliant’s CMD 649-based UDMA controller just fine. The only problem is, Ghost 5.1c doesn’t handle the changes Windows 2000 made to NTFS. It’ll make the image just fine, but when I went to try to restore it, Ghost crashed.

So I pulled out an unused copy of PowerQuest Drive Image. Drive Image worked fine. Mostly. It made the image at least. One thing I noticed was that Drive Image’s compression was a whole lot less effective than Ghost’s. The other thing I noticed was that Drive Image’s partition resizing didn’t work right. I’d re-size the partitions so they’d fit on another drive I had (I wanted to test the backup to make sure it worked, but not on the live, production drive) but no matter what I did, it reported there wasn’t enough room on the drive.

“Ghost would be so much better in every way, if it worked,” I said in frustration.

“Isn’t that true of everything?” Charlie asked. I guess he didn’t think that was the most brilliant observation I ever made. Not that I did either.

We’ve got support with both Symantec and HP, so we really ought to call them and see if they have a resolution. HP talks out of both sides of its mouth; on the one hand, I found statements on its Web site that Ghost is unsupported on Proliant hardware, and on the other I found some tools that claim to help with system deployment using Ghost.

But since this DL320 is being used to drive a printer that costs about as much as any of us make in a year, and it’s being set up by a guy who’s being flown in early this week at $2,000 a day, I’m not positive that we’re going to get a good resolution to this. I suspect we’ll just end up using Drive Image and keeping an identical drive on hand in case Windows 2000 gets suicidal on us. The price of an IDE drive is pocket change on top of all this.

But when you’re running Linux and GNU tar is a legitimate option as a backup and recovery tool, I love the DL320. It’s small, fast, and cheap. It’s funny when tools allegedly written by college students as a hobby work better and more consistently than commercial tools you have to pay for.

Well, I guess I should say it’s funny when that happens and it’s someone else who has to deal with it.