provides a great service but it was time to retire an old node. After archiving all the data using rsync, I decided that I wanted to make a copy of the disk over ssh so I could mount it locally or re-upload it if I ever needed to restore. This process was really overkill for my application but I wanted an extra back up after last months event.

Step 1. I resized the disk image to make it smaller and get rid of the unneeded free space.
Step 2. I rebooted the Linode in ‘restore’ mode which basically loads a small instance of Finnix (Debian based – really tiny distro). You can use apt-get to install packages to Finnix but your space is limited. On Linode, ssh is not running and root does not have a password, so you will have to use the following commands through the console to get you up and running.

passwd #sets the root password
/etc/init.d/ssh start

Step 3. Now you should be able to go over to your local machine and start the command to copy.
ssh -C [email protected] "dd if=/dev/xvda " | dd of=/home/whereyourwantit/linode.img

What this does is it creates a ssh connection with compression enabled to start sending your hard drive over to the local computer. Depending on the size of the drive, this could talk a little while.
One important note – in your .know_host file you might already have a key associated with the the ip/domain combination. You will need to delete that out of ~/.ssh/.known_hosts before being able to proceed.
Step 4. Wow you have your image and you are probably on a mac. Fantastic – since the filesystems are different. But no stress, load up your virtual box, mount your shared folder (if you can get guest additions to not be a pain) and then mount your image as the link linode suggests.
mkdir linode # creating the mount point
mount -o loop linode.img linode
### Once it is mounted you should be able to traverse it like a normal file system.
ls linode/ #exposes it all

Tomorrow I will try to upload the img back to Linode. Help me compile linux tips.

Update: Uploading the image back to Linode was a success

This process would be different if you were using a non-Linode image or you were trying to make the image work in a different virtual environment.

I started by creating a fresh Linode instance and then I created 2 disks (one for image and one for swap) after picking the datacenter.

Next, I created a new configuration profile. I set xvda to my primary disc and xvdb to my swap.

Now I start the Linode in recovery mode and basically repeat the steps above including setting the password and starting ssh in Finnix.

To copy the image to Linode:

dd if=/directoryto/linode.img | ssh -C [email protected] "dd of=/dev/xvda"

Then I reboot and I have a cloned version of the Linode I deleted yesterday up and running.

***Again disclaimer – this is probably not the best/most efficient way to back up your server.


  1. Petros Mikos -

    I suppose while downloading the image to your local computer, piping the dd to gzip could save on bandwidth and time?

    • Thomas -

      You bring up a good point. I would be interested to see the difference in transfer size with ssh compression, gzip/bzip2 compression, and the combination of both ssh and gzip or bzip2 encryption.

  2. AP -

    Hey, can you help us restore our img to linode. We have been at it for few days but no dice. It somehow just fails.

    • Thomas -

      I am glad I was able to help get the vdi transferred and working but I am sorry Linode turned out to not be a good solution for your custom kernel. In a few days, I will type up what I did to get it running.

  3. dangarthwaite -

    There are lots of classic tricks to speed this up.
    ssh [email protected] “dd if=/dev/xvda | bzip2 | dd bs=1M” | dd of=/home/whereyourwantit/linode.img.bz2

    Let the remote idle server do better-than-ssh compression. You could even opt to use xz instead of bzip2. The extra dd creates a buffer between the stream and the network pipe. I also like to use ‘pv’ in there to get some throughput stats, but that is just bling.

    This processes could take a long time if you don’t have good bandwidth – in that case don’t trust your laptop not to got to sleep on you.


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