I finally got one of the appliances to boot into a Ghostzilla instance and I was able to dump its cloned image via NFS to a storage unit that is available for this sort of thing. It was all great and working up to this point, but the next step was to test out the actual use of that cloned image. So I made some changes to the appliance, updated some rpms, broke some dependencies, checked my kernel and stuff. Then I powered it off and got it started again into Clonezilla, this time I restored the image I had created earlier and after it was done the machine was back up and running as new. No problems.
The next step was for me to test this on one of the smaller appliances, unfortunately they don't seem to boot from the USB drive I used on the bigger appliances. This is a problem, I can't seem to boot these appliances at all without the kickstart process. I think I'll have to revisit the network boot stuff sooner than expected.
On a side note, I was trying to just kickstart a new appliance for a customer, and I came to find out our kickstart process was broken. Something happened over the past 2 days that made the kickstart process barf at numerous places. I and some of my co-workers could not figure this out, we were literally grasping at straws, trying new network cables, bypassing switches, changing sources from nfs to http, nothing seemed to be the single one problem, and thus we couldn't really solve the issue.
After about 6 hours of debugging, troubleshooting and changing of the kickstart config, turns out that the problem was one of our gig switches. The problem here obviously is the brand, we tried to enable certain features on this switch --just as they advertise them-- and these features worked, however the configuration broke a bunch of other things when it shouldn't have. Apparently we got this switch as opposed to a Cisco switch because of initial cost, what a joke. Next time, spend the extra bucks and get something that is rock solid and won't give you this kind of grief.
Next up I have to write the scripts that will replace the serial number when it is detected.