The hard drive on my email and web server was beginning to fail. Once the system was running, the hard drive appeared to be fine, but sometimes it failed to boot and the drive wasn’t spinning up. So, what could I do.
The old system was running on a Celeron 450, 128 MB of RAM and a 17 GB HDD. In other words, a very small system. I used g4u to create an image of the hard drive, including partition tables and MBR. I then used g4u to restore the drive image under VMware Server running on an AMD64, 1 GB of RAM and a 1 TB RAID5 array (my primary mythtv backend). I told vmware to create a 20 GB HDD, and the transfer went smooothly. It did, however, take a VERY long time; g4u did it’s imaging and restoring via ftp. The 17 GB HDD took about 5.5 hours to image across a 100 mbit network.
I powered up the VMware Server with the newly created image, and voila. The system boot immediately and ran perfectly. So now, the email and web server believe they are running on an AMD64 3500, 128 MB of RAM and a 20 GB HDD. Speed has gone way up, and hopefully so has reliability.
One test I did when I switched the server was to make a copy of the hard drive image and boot another email and web server under a different IP address. I then upgraded the Gentoo 2005.0 based system to a 2006.1 based system using a script I found on the Gentoo forums. The upgrade went flawlessly. I would have simply changed the IP addresses to start running on the upgraded server, but I had received email on the old server. So, I upgraded the old server, as it was running and live. Gotta love Gentoo!