Stanford University Residential Computing

A department of Academic Computing, Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources

For Staff: Manuals: Tech

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PC Ghosting

What is "Ghosting"?

"Ghost" is a program owned by Symantec, the people that bring you Norton Utilities and Norton Antivirus.  It's a hard disk maintenance program.  When you initiate a "Ghost" session, you re-boot the computer to a special set of files which imitate a bootable partition. After rebooting, the ghost client pulls the machines IP address from a DHCP server. Once that''s done, TCP/IP network connectivity can start. The client attempts to connect to a Ghost "session" on a ghost server, and if it can find the session, the session will start.

A Ghost session is an event where the ghost client totally overwrites the target partition on the target/client machines hard drive with data that is streamed from the ghost server. The bit-by-bit stream of data transfers an "image" of the image development machines hard drive. That "image" is stored on the Ghost server.  The image includes applications like MS Office as well as the operating system, device drivers and so on. Everything, every single bit that is stored on the image file is transferred to the target machines hard drive, and every single bit that exists on the image developments hard drive is stored in the image file(s) that are maintained on the server.  The image development computers are mostly located in Meyer 240.  Don't mess with them!

Developing ghost "images" take a lot of time and it is hardware specific because of driver issues.  A Ghost image developed for a Dell GX 240 tower computer will not work on a Dell GX 280 slimline computer.

Ghost, for now, is PC only.

Ghosting  a  PC

We are having significant issues with client machines being able to maintain connections to the Ghost server over the Stanford Network, so until further notice you won't be able to run Ghost "tasks" from the control bar of computers in the field. You will have to initiate Ghost sessions by booting the computer with a Ghost Client CD.

  • Open the CD-DVD drive and drop the Ghost Boot CD in the drive. Close the Drive.
  • Re-start the PC. As it is booting up press F-12 key to enter the BIOS's boot menu
  • Select the IDE-ATA CD ROM for your boot device
  • At the next screen choose "Ghost Boot"
  • The computer will now go through the boot process and you will arrive at the Ghost application screen. 
  • Choose Ghost, Unicast.
  • Enter in the name of the ghost session on the Ghost server that you want to connect to
  • click through the rest of the screens and the session should start
  • once the session has started, you may remove the CD and move on to your next job.
Ghost Sessions

Ghost sessions are maintained on the Ghost server by Staff and Techs. During Fall quarter we will maintain between 4-6 sessions which have standard names that you can connect to.  If you fail to connect to one session, try the next name until you connect.

Ghost session speed is strongly affected by the number of concurrent sessions that are running, and the network path that the packets must take. For example, a single session, ghosting a PC in the main Meyer Cluster on the 2nd floor, may complete in as little as 25 minutes.  On the other hand, this summer it took over three hours to ghost 8 machines, simultaneously in the Tresidder LaIR.

Ghost CD Roms

The image for the Ghost Boot CD is kept on the CD/DVD Duplicator in the tech area of Meyer 240. You can burn a new Ghost boot CD if you lose the one we gave you during training.

Common Problems

PC won't boot off of the CD
Get into the PC's bios by pressing F2 when you see the Dell Optiplex screen that first comes up. Go in and make sure that in the boot order, the CD Rom is checked.  You can also move it up in the hierarchy so that the computer checks the CD before it checks the hard drive.   If this is already the case and it still isn't booting, there may be some more serious hardware issues on the system to worry about.

PC Boots, but TCP/IP doesn't start

Somehow the machine is not able to get a valid IP address. Check the following.

  • The NetDB entry for the machine my be wrong.  Look it up by name or hardware address
  • Is the network cable plugged in?
  • Is the jack it's plugged into, hot?
  • Are other machines in this subnet not able to get an IP address?  That sounds ugly, doesn't it?
PC Boots, TCP/IP starts, but can't find any valid sessions

The machine is not contacting the ghost server, or the sessions that you thought were available, aren't.  You can call in on the tech cell phone to a staff member and have one of us check the available sessions for useable ones.  It seems that if more than four or six sessions are running, some machines are not able to find other, available sessions. You will have to wait until the current sessions are done, and try connecting again.

Everything runs just fine, but when I get back to Meyer, the entire building is mad at me

You ran a session that you set up as "multicast" in the "options" section, rather than "unicast". Multicast is the default choice, so if you don't change it when you set up a session, that's what will happen.    As of right now, some of our building switches are not able to deal with the multicast protocol, so that running one can bring the entire building network to a halt. Do NOT DO THIS.

PC-Leland won't let me in
Check the PC-Leland troubleshooting guide.

Related Issues


Standard Procedures

NetRestoring Macs
Radminding Macs
PC Ghosting
Going to MicroDisk
Moving Equipment



Web Tools

NetDB (IP/ENet Admin)
Print Queue Utilities
Printer Page Count

Printer Status