Unique Environment Variables in 98
Posted on 1998-12-14
This question is going to require some thought folks, but if you come up with the right answer, it will be well worth it. Please read carefully.
This question involves NT login scripts, but knowledge of NT is not necessary to solve the problem, since the answer, I believe, lies within Windows 98.
I have 33 machines in a room and each is an exact duplicate of the other (via. drive cloning software). Each logs into an NT domain with the same user id and password. Each machine has a unique machine name. The machine name is the ONLY unique identifier that is manually configured after cloning. For ease of administration, there will be no other uniqueness, other than that which is required to participate in networking (mac address, machine name, ip address via. dhcp).
Now the tough part. I would like each machine to retain a unique file. Previously, every machine had a copy of each of 33 unique files on the hard drive and each user could pick the file appropriate to them. This is no longer acceptable. It is also not acceptable to place the files on the server since each user must log in with the same network id, which would give them access to all of the same files. I need each machine to contain only the file that is appropriate to that machine.
My proposed solution:
In Windows NT, I could have the login script check for a unique environment variable, such as the computername.
If %COMPUTERNAME% == Student-1 Goto Unique1
If %COMPUTERNAME% == Student-2 Goto Unique2
Copy \\server\unique_file.001 C:\ /Y
Copy \\server\unique_file.002 C:\ /Y
This login script(for those unfamiliar with NT, this is really just a batch file that runs whenever the user logs in), would check the computername, then copy the appropriate file from a location on the server to the local machine. This works for NT Workstation clients, but not for Windows 98 clients. The reason is that Windows 98 does not create an environment variable for "computername" by default. Adding the variable via. the "set" command, would mean that each machine would have to be unique and if that were the case, I might as well manually copy the appropriate file to each machine after cloning.
I am looking for either an environment variable that 98 adds by default (I have used the set command to check them and found nothing) or an acceptable alternative. An acceptable solution will be worth 500 points provided:
1. It does not require manual configuration of any PC. Everything must either be done from the login script (batch file), or some other automated process.
2. The solution cannot be machine specific as the PC images are wiped and "re-cloned" on a frequent basis.
3. The solution cannot be login specific since each PC must login with the same username and password.
4. The solution must be simple enough that it can be implemented each time after cloning. Prefferably this would be something in the login script that could run each time.
5. Premature answers will be immediately rejected in order to keep this question unlocked. I will request an answer from an Expert once an acceptable solution, given via. comment, has been implemented and tested.
6. While the answer of "It cannot be done . . ." may be the correct answer, it will not be worth 500 points. I know it cannot be done as I have tried to do it (i.e. the computername environment variable) but I am looking for similar alternatives. If a similar alternative cannot be found, the closest workable solution will be accepted as an answer and I will adjust the point value as I see fit.
I will try to respond quickly to your questions.
Thank you and good luck.