How to dd to a NFS server

I bought a new hard drive for my laptop and just wanted to copy the old disk to the new one because I didn't feel like installing everything again. On a desktop box that's pretty easy, just put the new disk in together with the old one and use dd to copy it across. Most laptops can only take one disk so that won't work. I have a NFS server with enough space to hold the laptop disk but NFS won't allow root to write on a NFS mounted directory and dd won't work as a normal user. This is how I did it.

Boot from the *ubuntu Live CD with the old disk in the laptop.

If portmap is not installed the NFS mount will take a while. You will also need nfs-client to be able to mount NFS filesystems. To install portmap type

sudo aptitude install portmap nfs-client

Mount the NFS directory to /mnt .

sudo mount /mnt

Check the permissions on the NFS directory to make sure you can write to it

ls -l /mnt

It might show something like this

-rw-r--r--  1 1000 1000      108 2007-09-07 01:35 myfile.txt

That means only the user with user id 1000 can write to the directory. The user id for the ubuntu user on the live CD is 999.

So lets add a user with uid 1000 that can write to the NFS directory...

sudo adduser diskuser --uid 1000

To see the uid of a user type

sudo cat /etc/passwd | grep diskuser

Now we have a user with write permission on the mounted NFS directory. The other problem is that to read from /dev/ you need to be root. Lets take a look at /dev/hda

sudo ls -l /dev/hda

That shows

brw-rw---- 1 root disk 3, 0 2007-10-08 20:21 /dev/hda

which means only user "root" and group "disk" can read from it. Sudo to the NFS directory won't work because sudo will dd as root. To fix this we have to add "diskuser" to the "disk" group like this

sudo adduser diskuser disk

Now we can dd as a normal user. Log on as the "diskuser" with

su diskuser

Then to copy the whole disk to a disk image on the NFS server type

dd if=/dev/hda of=/mnt/disk_image.img

When it is done it will go back to the prompt and you'll see


Exit "diskuser" by typing


Unmount the NFS directory

sudo umount /mnt

Shut down the laptop and put the new hard drive in. Boot from the *ubuntu Live CD and mount the NFS directory on /mnt as shown above. Now you have to copy the disk image back to the new hard drive.

sudo dd if=/mnt/disk_image.img of=/dev/hda

When it's done you'll have a copy of your old disk on the new one. Shutdown the laptop and boot from the hard drive. Please note that if the new disk is bigger than the old one you'll have to resize the partitions to be able to use all the space. The UUID of the disk might change as well. If that happens just boot from the *ubuntu Live CD again, mount the hard drive and edit the UUID's in /etc/fstab and /boot/grub/menu.list . To get the UUID of a partition or disk run

ls -l /dev/disk/by-uuid/

I hope this will be helpful to someone.

PS: Thanks to all the guys in #kubuntu on freenode for their help in understanding NFS permissions.

Have fun!

DDtoNFS (last edited 2008-06-27 10:14:46 by localhost)