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From what an end user might experience, what are the differences between cloning to a new PC/Laptop an already installed, configured and updated system or doing a fresh installation assuming that the installation settings are the same, for example:

  • The user name is the same
  • The computer name is the same
  • The timezone is the same
  • What will be configure is the same (VLC will be installed, the restricted extras will be installed, all the same packages will be installed)

Are there any drawbacks/problems in cloning in comparison to freshly installing and vice versa. What advantages does one have over the other.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are advantages and disadvantages of both cloning and a fresh install.

If a computer is running fine, there is no need to go to all the trouble of installing everything on new ones, you can just clone.

Cloning: Is a Fast, Easy Way to Set Up Multiple Computers. Disadvantages of cloning, Propagating Existing Issues, Hardware Incompatibility Issues. The advantages are, Extremely Short Downtime, and Simplicity.

Fresh install gives you a clean copy of the operating system, and gives you control over how to partition the drive. Also you will have to install any software applications that you may need, and that can take a long time.

Now, if you are using an SSD You should install fresh to make sure you get all of the benefits of the SSD.

On a personal note, I would choose a fresh install over cloning, just because I have control of what gets installed.

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When you say "get all the benefits of the SSD", does installing ubuntu on an SDD add some additional options to fstab of some sort to make use of the performance. –  Luis Alvarado Jun 3 '12 at 17:37
    
@Luis Alvarado I do not have an SSD to try hands on, but from what I have read, and heard from fellow techs, there are some changes that have to be done to fstab. Such as Eschewing Access Times, Enabling TRIM, and Tmpfs. As far as benefits of using an SSD, some are: Start up speed, No moving parts, Temperature, Battery Life (laptop), Data Integrity, and Environmental Factors. –  Mitch Jun 3 '12 at 18:42
    
Thank you mitch, will create an additional question about this since 12.04 received many changes. –  Luis Alvarado Jun 3 '12 at 18:43
    
@Luis Alvarado, Thank you, I will have an SSD in my hands next month, and I`ll let you know for sure what the advantages are over a regular HD. –  Mitch Jun 3 '12 at 18:45

Depending on what you are doing, you can clone an OEM install

How to make an OEM Install?

At first boot, the new user is asked to configure the first (admin) user.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Ubuntu_OEM_Installer_Overview

Cloning can also help if you have a custom install you wish to reproduce on similar hardware as it is going to be faster to deploy 1,000 clones on 1,000 laptops then manually install and configure the laptops post install.

IMO, OEM/ cloning sort of makes sense if you are distributing the machines to others.

As pointed out by Mitch, a standard install is going to give you more flexibility (partitioning, encryption, encrypt home, etc).

You other option would be a custom live CD.

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