Image Upload Problem and Windows no longer booting on Alienware x51

  • Server
    • FOG Version: 1.4.4
    • OS: Ubuntu 16.04.3 desktop
    • Service Version:
    • OS: Windows 8.1 Pro

    Just setup a new FOG server, and setup an Alienware X51 as a new host. I entered in the product key and created a new Host Image using the web server. I setup the image as Windows 8.1, and all the defaults; Image Enabled, and Replicate boxes checked, Compression at 6 and using Partclone Gzip. I did change the Image Type to Multiple Partition Image - Single Disk as I wanted, in this case, to also clone the recovery partitions. I scheduled a basic task to upload the image from the PC. The PC had secure boot disabled, UEFI disabled Legacy Boot enabled and PXE OpRom Policy Enabled to boot to the FOG server. After scheduling the image upload and rebooting, Partclone Gzip started, mentioned a disk size of only 500 MB then finished. The task showed up as finished on the FOG server and the image size showed up as 500 MB. I attempted to deploy the image to an identical Alienware X51 and it showed a message “The target partition size (368 MB) is smaller than the source (525 MB) Use option -C to disable size checking(Dangerous)” but then it said it would continue in a minute and it did a reboot and said the job was finished on the FOG server. I switched the PC host back to UEFI and secure boot and it failed to load Windows (no change as this HDD is wiped which is why I’m surprised it said the target partition was only 368 when there were no partitions on it).

    This is where my biggest problem begins, I change my boot options in the bios back to normal and Windows 8.1 boots to a recovery screen and I attempt the “troubleshoot startup problems”. Reboot and the bios does not even see a Windows Boot Manager. I am worried I have lost my data and reinstalling Windows without the Alienware recovery partition results in Windows never being able to activate again unless you buy new licenses.

    I am very new to FOG and desperately need some help as I’m trying everything I can but If I lost those recovery partitions I’m screwed.

    I have confirmed the partitions are still alive on the source PC but what could FOG have done to corrupt it’s boot manager if it was just supposed to be an upload…
    Picture of Partitions

  • Senior Developer

    @azureeyedtech Ok, let’s take this one step at a time.

    First off: If you’ve used the image type “Multiple Partition Image - Single Disk” only (are you sure about this ???) then it’s near to impossible that FOG has done anything harmful to your source disk! But if you’ve switched over to “Single Disk - Resizable” somewhere along the way then might have changed anything on disk, although we haven’t seen it do anything harmful on upload in a long time. So please tell us, have you ever run an upload task on this machine when image type was “Single Disk - Resizable”? We need to know.
    Keep in mind that you cannot switch image type between uploading and downloading the image. If you change the type you need to re-upload the image again!

    The PC had secure boot disabled, UEFI disabled Legacy Boot enabled […] I switched the PC host back to UEFI and secure boot and it failed to load Windows

    You cannot just switch from UEFI to legacy BIOS and back as you like. These setting needs to be set prior to installing an OS on disk hand have to be left alone after that. UEFI is looking for a FAT32 formated partition to find the boot loader file(s), while legacy BIOS on the other hand tries to find the boot loader code in the MBR. So again, you need to decide which way you wanna go UEFI or legacy BIOS and then leave things as is. In your case it sounds as if the OS was (pre-)installed in UEFI mode. Then you need to run FOG in UEFI mode for this client as well!! FOG can do this. On PXE boot the FOG DHCP server is handing out the correct boot binary to the client depending on it being set to UEFI or legacy BIOS. But if you use a different DHCP server then you need to set this up yourself: Instructions see here…
    Secure boot setting is different. You actually need to and should be able to disable secure boot as FOG is not able to handle this. Most people just leave it disabled but AFAIK you may enable it after having uploaded/downloaded an image from/to a client.

    So what to do now?

    • First and foremost find the image on your FOG server (hope you have not overwritten it by several uploads) and make a backup copy of the whole directory. Should find it in /images/<IMAGENAME>. Hope we never need it but you never know. Might be the last copy of your original partition layout we have.
    • While you are there, post the contents of the text file d1.partitions that you find in the image directory. Plus run ls -al /images/<IMAGENAME> and post listing here.
    • Change image type to “Multiple Partition Image - Single Disk” and leave it like that for now!
    • Set UEFI/legacy BIOS on your initial source machine to whatever it was before you played with it (I suspect UEFI) and see if it boots up Windows properly again.
    • Setup your DHCP server to serve both UEFI and legacy BIOS machines with different boot binaries (see the wiki article above).
    • To see if the UEFI boot partition is still there boot the machine up using a Linux live CD/DVD open a terminal window, become root/sudo and run the following commands:
    mkdir -p /mnt/boot
    mount -t ntfs -o ro /dev/sda1 /mnt/boot
    find /mnt/boot
    umount /mnt/boot
    gdisk -l /dev/sda

    Take a picture of the output on screen and post here.

    By the way, are you sure you can actually do what you are trying here? Cloning one image to several Alienware machines with a pre-installed OS that cannot be activated through normal windows keys. Maybe I get you wrong here but this sounds as if it is going to cause much trouble anyway.