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In computing, a system image is a copy of the entire state of a computer system stored in some non-volatile form such as a file. A system is said to be capable of using system images if it can be shut down and later restored to exactly the same state. In such cases, system images can be used for backup.

Hibernation is an example that uses an image of the entire machine's RAM.

Disk images[edit]

Main article: Disk image

If a system has all its state written to a disk, then a system image can be produced by simply copying that disk to a file elsewhere, often with disk cloning applications. On many systems a complete system image cannot be created by a disk cloning program running within that system because information can be held outside of disks and volatile memory, for example in non-volatile memory like boot ROMs.

Process images[edit]

A process image is a copy of its state at a given point in time. It is often used for persistence. A common example is a database management system (DBMS). Most DBMS can store the state of its database or databases to a file before being closed down (see database dump). The DBMS can then be restarted later with the information in the database intact and proceed as though the software had never stopped. Another example would be the hibernate feature of many operating systems. Here, the state of all RAM memory is stored to disk, the computer is brought into an energy saving mode, then later restored to normal operation.

Some emulators provide a facility to save an image of the system being emulated. This is often called a savestate.

Programming language support[edit]

Some programming languages provide a command to take a system image of a program. This is normally a standard feature in Smalltalk (inspired by FLEX) and Lisp, among other languages. Development in these languages is often quite different from many other programming languages. For example in Lisp the programmer may load packages or other code into a running Lisp implementation using the read-eval-print loop, which usually compiles the programs. Data is loaded into the running Lisp system. The programmer may then dump a system image, containing that pre-compiled and possibly customized code - and also all loaded application data. Often this image is an executable, and can be run on other machines. This system image can be the form in which executable programs are distributed — this method has often been used by programs (such as TeX and Emacs) largely implemented in Lisp, Smalltalk, or idiosyncratic languages to avoid spending time repeating the same initialization work every time they start up.

Similar, Lisp Machines were booted from Lisp images, called Worlds. The World contains the complete operating system, its applications and its data in a single file. It was also possible to save incremental Worlds, that contain only the changes from some base World. Before saving the World, the Lisp Machine operating system could optimize the contents of memory (better memory layout, compacting data structures, sorting data, ...).

Although its purpose is different, a "system image" is often similar in structure to a core dump.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_image — Please support Wikipedia.
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753 news items

Gotta Be Mobile

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Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:06:18 -0700

The Android 5.0 System Image is a download that contains all the files needed to install a stock version of Android 5.0 on the Nexus 7 and Nexus 5. This is essentially everything that you would download as an OTA update for regular Android updates.
Tom's Hardware
Thu, 02 Oct 2014 06:05:09 -0700

I have a 300 GB hard drive in my computer. I would like to upgrade to a SSD drive, but likely would use a 120 GB Drive....... My 300 GB hard drive has a 100 GB partion which is my C: boot drive. Can I make an windows 7 back up image of JUST the 100 GB ...

Yahoo News UK

Yahoo News UK
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 06:24:18 -0700

If you want you can try Google's latest Android mobile operating system on Windows or Mac system, via the Android 5.0 SDK and system image. Below is a guide to help you install Android 5.0 SDK on the Windows or Mac PC. This tutorial explains how to ...


Tue, 07 Oct 2014 10:24:29 -0700

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Gotta Be Mobile

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Fri, 17 Oct 2014 16:00:56 -0700

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Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows

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Use the system image backup feature in Windows 7/8.x to make a complete system image of your PC. Then you can boot it with the recovery media mentioned above and get your PC back to the way it was. Check out Windows 8 Tip: Use Windows 7 System ...

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