Saturday, March 14, 2015

Clone That Puppy

If you read my previous post on the Live USB Puppy for Python education, you may have noticed at least two problems with it. I will address them here.

The first is that the Python graphics package Tkinter is not designed to deal with animation. I tried anyway, it was awkward, and I abandonned the idea. I installed the Pygame package and have been working happily with that instead. Since I believe that writing simple games and animation are the best way to teach programming to youngsters, something like Pygame is essential. There's a .deb package available for download here. And there is a pretty good introductory tutorial here. Pygame can be installed on Puppy clicking on the .deb file, same as outlined for the other packages in the previous post.

The second problem lies in using the USB in the classroom rather than anything to do with the USB itself. It takes about 25 minutes at least to prepare a USB in the manner I outlined. For a class of 10 students, that means the teacher is facing hours of tedious and attention demanding time at the terminal, if each student is to get their own USB. Intuitively, I'd just like to simply copy whatever is on the Puppy and paste it onto an empty USB. However, this doesn't work. I have something else in mind. Something that works. I found that I can cut down the time it takes to reproduce a USB to around 7 minutes. Still tedious and attention demanding, and fraught with the dangers of destroying valuable data at just about every step, but I managed to get the hang of it after only a couple of false starts. What we want to do is called cloning a drive or partition. You can also make an image of the USB and go from there, but it seems cloning is a little easier and no slower than going down the image route.

Download Clonezilla, (~160MB) and put it on a USB following these instructions. I followed the GNU/Linux method B and found it surprisingly easy. Prepare a target USB stick, where you intend to put the cloned copy. The source will be the 'original' USB created following the instructions in the previous post. Once Clonezilla is booted, I inserted the other two sticks. It's important to know which is the source with your Puppy on it and which is the target which should be empty. You also need to know how to identify the USB with Clonezilla on it, and also the hard drive and the partitions on it. I'm leery about altering my hard drive in any way, so my method only involves USB sticks. On this Toshiba laptop, that means every USB slot (all 3) is in use. Still the possiblilty exists of doing damage to data on the hard drives, so take care to identify them when presented with the chance. Here is an accurate walk-through of the cloning process. As I say, it takes around 7 minutes. Good luck and take care.

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