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RIS functionality

jdff asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Does anyone knows how RIS works, I would like to learn a bit about, how to use it, when to use it, etc...

Please be clear.
Thank you all
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Hi jdff,

Better post what you don't understand from RIS ... subject is extremly vast.

Happy reading!

Good article here:-

 http://www.mcpmag.com/columns/article.asp?EditorialsID=509 -  "Installation With RIS"

Fatal_ExceptionSystems Engineer
Top Expert 2005

When I was studying for my MCSE, I took some notes on RIS...   Maybe these will help, maybe not..  but you are welcome to them..


Windows 2000 Server based installation      

RipPrep Based or Cloning Method

  Active Directory      
  RIS must be installed on NON-SYSTEM partition      
      Hotfix's must be installed for XP OS      
      Q308508 for CD Based Installations
      Q301069 for RIPPREP Installations

      Working Model (How RIS Works:            
            1      Client contacts DHCP to get IP address for itself and for RIS Server
            2      DHCP gives Client above information
            3      Client contacts RIS Server
            4      RIS uses BINL and TFTP to contact AD to see if computer has been
                        pre-staged (computer account has been created)
            5      RIS BINL and TFTP downloads Client Installation Wizard (CIW)      
                        Used to log into AD and authenticate
                        Shows user the choices available on RIS server
            6      RIS repartitions (ONE) the client computer HD and formats with NTFS

Setup of RIS is through RUN line command:  RISETUP                  
   Use wizard to complete install            
   Single Instance Storage Groveler -  creates a folder to house all the identical files from like kind OS installations      
  Installs Folder Structure and shares the folder            
  Folder name: Remote Install      
  Sharename: REMINST      
  Installs or creates an original CD based image during setup            
  Copies CD based installation files            
Rogue Server Protection                  
  Authorize DHCP server to prevent rogue DHCP servers from handing out addresses            
  Logon as Enterprise Administrator (Must have Enterprise Admin Rights)            
  Open DHCP console            
  Focus on DHCP, context menu, Manage Authorized Servers            
  Click to authorize            
  Type in IP address of RIS server            
DHCP and Routers  (RIS may be on a different subnet)                  
  Routers usually block BootP Broadcast            
  Fix:      Put DHCP Server on same subnet      
  Enable Forwarding of BootP Broadcasts on Router      
  Cisco:  Enable IP Helper
  W2000 Server with DHCP Agent installed      
Part 2            
RIS is installed and the Services started (BINL/TFTP/SISG)      
Folder Structure is Installed and shared      
CD based installation files copied      

Because this was originally a W2000 based service (RIS), you need to drill down to I386 folder:      
   then replace (move all files but RBFG) to subfolder
   Run the patch in the folder (Q313069)
   (new RIPREP will allow installation of XP)
   RBFG tool generates floppy disk for supported NICs that emulates the PXE boot      

Actual (original and all riprep clone) Images are stored in:      
   Good idea to create a folder for each type of image that you create
        Ex:  Sales, Marketing, etc.
        Also:  Set permissions on the folders via NTFS permissions
        Or:  Use answer files

Answer Files allow you to use One (1) cd based image and install different setups depending on the answer file            
Location:        /RemoteInstall/Setup/English/Images/Winxp.pro/i386/Templates/ristndrd.sif
      Then change the permissions on the answer file      

RIS Server Administration            
   Go to Active Directory Users and Computers      
   Locate the computer RIS is installed on      
       Note that Properties page has Remote Install tab
   Go to Remote Install tab      
   Check box Respond to client computers requesting service      
   Check box  Do not respond to unknown computers      
   Prestage Computer       
       (must create computer account in AD)            
   In OU or computer account, create new computer account            
        Fill in boxes ex: computer name, etc      
        Ck box for GUID (32 character)      
   Found when booting off PXE or in DHCP broadcast with Sniffer
      Also:  can use MAC with 20 leading zeros (0's)
On RIS server computer in AD                  
    Click 'show clients' to bring up all known clients            
    On Advanced tab:      New Clients tab for non-prestaged computers      
         If you do not prestage computer (above) it will generate a name configured here      
           Image Tab            
Associate Answer files with "add" button      
Tools Tab            
For other maintence (flashing the bios)      

Other features using Group Policy            
   Open Group Policy      
   User Configuration > Windows Settings > RIS      
        Click on CHOICE options      

To allow users to setup these computers, give the user the appropriate permissions            
    Must grant users (or group) at Domain or OU level      
    EX:  At domain level      
    Right click on Domain
    Click Delegate Control
    Follow Wizard

USE SYMANTEC GHOST and avoid headaches with risk!
Fatal_ExceptionSystems Engineer
Top Expert 2005

RIS has its uses and its place, as Sysprep (ghost) has its place too...   RIS can install, without issues, to different hardware, where ghosting can cause problems...  

It depends on what you want to do, and the objectives of your setup...

Her is some info on Riprep

Remote OS Installation
RIPrep images allow a network administrator to clone a standard corporate desktop configuration, complete with operating system configurations, desktop customizations, and locally-installed applications. After installing and configuring the Windows 2000 Professional operating system, its services, and any standard applications on a computer, the network administrator runs a wizard that prepares the installation image, and replicates it to an available RIS server on the network for installation on other clients.
The benefits of using RIPrep.exe are as follows:
•      Allows for the creation of standard environment images including the operating system, standard desktop applications, and settings.
•      Faster overall install times than CD-based images.
The limitations of using RIPrep.exe are as follows:
•      Does not support multiple disks or multiple partitions on the source computer used to create the RIPrep image.
•      Works only with the Windows 2000 Professional operating system.
•      The destination client must have a hard disk that is the same size or larger than the system partition on the hard disk of the source computer used to create the RIPrep image.
•      Target system must also have the same hardware abstraction layer (HAL).
•      A CD-based image of the same version and language as the RIPrep source computer must also be installed on the RIS server.
RIPrep Considerations
If you plan to use RIPrep to create operating systems in your organization, keep the following considerations in mind:
•      RIPrep supports replication of a single disk, single partition (the boot partition, which is usually drive C) of Windows 2000 Professional. Because of this, the operating system and all of the applications that make up the standard installation must reside on the boot partition prior to running the RIPrep wizard. By creating a RIPrep image, you can install and configure the operating system, locally-installed applications and configuration settings once for deployment to many clients.
•      RIPrep-based images generally use more hard disk space than CD-based images because they contain an uncompressed copy of the client system's hard disk stored on the server. CD-based flat images still contain the compressed installation files that the CD contains.
•      To store a RIPrep image on a server, you must also have a CD-based image that is the same version and default language stored on the same RIS server. This is because the answer file used for the RIPrep image also refers the client to the CD-based image for access to network adapter and text-mode boot drivers, in case the drivers required for the client installing the RIPrep image are different from those in the system used to create the RIPrep image. The text-mode setup then does an advanced Xcopy of the client's image to the client's hard disk drive. (Text-mode setup is the normal blue screen you see when installing Windows 2000 Professional that moves or copies all the files over before the graphical user interface setup begins.)
•      One of the beneficial features of the RIPrep wizard is that the destination client, that is, the computer that is installing the RIPrep image, does not need to contain identical hardware as that of the source computer used to create the image. However, the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) drivers must be the same. The RIPrep wizard uses the new Plug and Play support that is included with Windows 2000 for detecting any differences between the source and the client hardware during image installation.
•      To create a RIPrep image, a source computer is required. The source computer contains the Windows 2000 Professional operating system, locally-installed applications, and any configured system settings that represent a standard client configuration you want to deploy to the specific clients. Carefully configure and test this image before running the RIPrep wizard to create the RIPrep image. After the image is replicated to the RIS server, you cannot alter its configuration without rerunning the RIPrep wizard against the existing image.
Configuring a RIPrep Source Computer
To prepare and configure a source computer for a RIPrep image, use the following general steps:
1.      Install Windows 2000 Professional on the boot drive of a newly formatted computer. Any of the common methods of performing a standard installation can be used.
2.      During setup, create a single partition, and then set the partition to the minimum size required for support of the base operating system and any required applications. The size of the partition used on the RIPrep source computer determines the minimum disk size required on computers installing the resulting RIPrep image.
3.      Configure all components and settings that represent the standard client configuration for this image, including:
o      Network settings
o      Security settings
o      User settings
o      Desktop settings
Configure the source computer to adhere to any company configuration policies. For example, you might choose to define specific screen colors, set the background bitmap to a company-based logo, and set intranet proxy server settings in Microsoft® Internet Explorer 5.
4.      Install all applications that you want to be a part of this image. If you have applications that are Windows Installer (.msi) packages and you want the applications to be installed in a managed state, see the following section. Install all the applications from the location that should be used when looking for updates or additional files, rather than a temporary location such as a local CD-ROM drive that is not available on clients installing the RIPrep image. For example, you can install Microsoft® Office 2000 and virus protection software for all users who require these applications on the computer.
5.      Test the source computer to ensure that the configuration is exactly how you want it to be for the group of users who will access this image. RIPrep images cannot be modified after they are created, so if your image fails your test process, you must recreate the image or restore the existing RIPrep image, make the necessary adjustments, and run the RIPrep wizard again to create a new image that contains the additional changes. If it is appropriate, you can overwrite the existing image on the RIS server when you create the new image
6.      Run the RIPrep wizard to create the RIPrep image on the server.
7.      Configure user access to the image by setting permissions in the ristnrd.sif file in the Templates folder of the new RIPrep image. For more information, see "Setting Security Permissions in Answer Files" later in this chapter.
Using Software Installation and Maintenance with RIPrep
By using the Windows 2000 Software Installation and Maintenance features, you can install and manage key software in a RIPrep image by using the same methods you use to install the software on other computers in the organization.
Consider an organization that wants to bring in new computers and customize both the Windows 2000 operating system and the Office 2000 suite of applications. The organization has existing Group Policy objects to manage the computers in the organization, and the administrator has assigned Office 2000 to the computers in the appropriate Group Policy objects.

Be sure you configure the RIPrep source computer with applications from the same Group Policy objects that apply to the destination computers (those that install the RIPrep image) when they are deployed. The applications might be removed, or removed and reinstalled, if a different policy is applied to the computer when it is deployed.
The administrator installs the Windows 2000 operating system on a computer (that has the same HAL as the wanted target systems), and then configures the operating system the way that they want it. When Windows 2000 is installed and configured, the administrator adds it to the same Active Directory container where it stays after it is deployed. This container has a Group Policy object with Office 2000 assigned to the computer.

When you install Office 2000 as part of an RIPrep image, you must turn off 8.3 name creation. Change the value of the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation registry entry from 0 (default) to 1 in order to turn off 8.3 name creation. NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation is located in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem. See the following procedure.
To turn off 8.3 name creation
1.      From the Start menu, click Run.
2.      Type regedt32.exe or regedit.exe, and then click OK.
3.      In the registry editor, navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\FileSystem
4.      Select the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation entry.
5.      To turn off 8.3 name creation, change the value of the NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation registry entry from 0 (default) to 1. In Regedit.exe, right-click the entry, and then click Modify.
In Regedt32.exe, click the entry, click Edit, and then click the appropriate menu choice.

Do not use a registry editor to edit the registry directly unless you have no alternative. The registry editors bypass the standard safeguards provided by administrative tools. These safeguards prevent you from entering conflicting settings or settings that are likely to degrade performance or damage your system. Editing the registry directly can have serious, unexpected consequences that can prevent the system from starting and require that you reinstall Windows 2000. To configure or customize Windows 2000, use the programs in Control Panel or Microsoft Management Console (MMC) whenever possible.
The administrator restarts the computer, and Software Installation and Maintenance installs Office 2000 (applications assigned to a computer install when the computer starts). After Office 2000 installation is complete, the administrator can take the computer running Windows 2000 with Office 2000 installed, and use RIPrep to build a Remote OS Installation image and put the image on a RIS server.
When the resulting RIPrep image is installed on destination clients, as long as the same Group Policy objects are applied to the destination computers, the applications remain in a managed state and can be managed, updated, or patched using the Software Installation and Maintenance features. It is recommended that you use Software Installation and Maintenance to install, update, and manage all applications that you install in RIPrep images.
For more information about software installation, see "Software Installation and Maintenance" in this book.
RIPrep and User Profiles
When creating RIPrep images, it is important to understand the relationship of user profiles, the changes made to a RIPrep source computer, and the wanted result for users who log on to computers that are installed by using the RIPrep image. Windows 2000 Logo–compliant applications properly separate user-specific and computer-specific configuration settings and data. Installing such applications for all users of the computer as part of a RIPrep source computer allows the applications to then be available to all users of clients that have the resulting RIPrep image installed later. Non-Windows 2000–compliant applications might perform or rely on per-user configurations that are specific to the profile of the user actually installing the application prior to running RIPrep (typically a local administrator), rather than to all users of the client. Such configurations remain specific to that user, which can result in the application or configuration setting not being available or not functioning properly for users of computers installed with the RIPrep image. In addition, some non-application configuration changes, such as the wallpaper specified for the user desktop, are applied only to the current user's profile by default, and are not applied to users of systems installed with the RIPrep image.
Thoroughly test any applications or configuration settings that you want to use in a RIPrep image to ensure that they will work properly with your organization's implementation of user profiles. To perform the test, make the change as one user (typically a local administrator of the computer), log off, and log on as a user account that is representative of your organization. If the changes you made are applied to the second user, the changes should also apply to users who log on to systems installed with an RIPrep image that contains the same change. To complete the test, create an RIPrep image, restore it to a different computer, and log on as a different representative user. Verify that the changes are applied and fully functional.
Some configuration settings can be copied directly from the profile to which they were applied (the local administrator in the previous example, for instance) to the All Users profile (such as the desktop wallpaper) some Start menu options, and shortcuts. However, all such changes must be tested carefully to verify that the profile copy process does not affect their functionality.
To copy the Administrator's profile to the Default User profile on the source computer
1.      Log on to the source computer as Administrator. Right-click My Computer, and then click Properties.
2.      In the System Properties property page, click the User Profiles tab, select the local Administrator profile from the list of profiles on the computer, and then click Copy To.
3.      In the Copy To dialog box, enter the path to the All Users profile folder (typically C:\Documents and Settings\All Users), and then click Change.
4.      Select the appropriate group from the User or Group dialog box, typically the Everyone group, and then click OK.
5.      Click OK, and then click OK again to exit the System Properties property page.
Running the RIPrep Wizard
After the client source computer is configured and fully tested, you are ready to run the Remote Installation Preparation Wizard (RIPrep.exe) from the RIS server that you want to receive this RIPrep image.
To run the RIPrep wizard, from the source client computer's Start menu, click Run, and then type:
Then click OK.
The RIPrep wizard does the following:
•      Asks for the name of the RIS server on which to store the image. If none is selected, it defaults to the server name from which RIPrep.exe was run. If RIPrep.exe is run from \\Server\Reminst\Admin\i386\Riprep, server becomes the default location.
•      Prompts for a subdirectory name to which the new image is created. The directory specified is created under the \RemoteInstall\Setup\OS Language\Images directory on the specified RIS server.
•      Prompts for a description and Help display text. These values are written to the answer file for the RIPrep image and used for display to users in the Client Installation Wizard.
•      Prompts you to stop services and close applications on the client that RIPrep does not recognize. (This page does not prevent you from continuing, but you need to attempt to stop any services that RIPrep does not recognize as well as close any open applications.)
•      Removes unique security identifier and other unique registry settings to prevent conflict between clients.
•      Replicates the source client's system partition to a folder on the RIS server.
•      Creates a default answer file named Riprep.sif. This associates a specialized unattended answer file with the image to ensure that the user is not prompted during image installation.
To create an image on the server, you must be logged on to the source client with an account that has backup privileges on the source computer. (If you are a member of the domain administrators group, you have this privilege.) Otherwise you need to log on as the local administrator.
Figure 24.4 shows the directory structure that exists after the RIPrep image is copied to the server. You can define the name of the root folder (imagename) where the RIPrep images are stored.
Figure 24.4 RIPrep Image Directory Structure
After creating the new image, the important files to note are RIPrep.log, Bootcode.dat, and Imirror.dat. These files contain the following information about the RIPrep image:
RIPrep.log   This file contains log information about RIPrep.exe. RIPrep.log contains any errors that occur, such as encrypted files encountered or files in use. It also notes other information such as server name and description. This file resides in the \i386 directory on the server.
Bootcode.dat   This file contains the boot sector for the system. Bootcode.dat resides in the \i386\Mirror1 directory.
Imirror.dat   This file contains information, such as the drive letter, installation directory, and hardware abstraction layer (HAL) type, about the system that was cloned by using RIPrep. Imirror.dat resides in the \i386\Mirror1 directory.
These files contain some binary data, and therefore cannot be completely read by using a simple text editor or word processing application. After RIPrep is run, the source computer is shut down. If the source client is restarted, a mini-wizard runs and prompts the user for the unique configuration items that were removed when RIPrep was run.
After the replication of the image is complete, any DHCP PXE–based remote boot–enabled client, including those clients using the RIS boot floppy disk, can be used to access this image through RIS.

Now for Sysprep

The Microsoft® Windows® 2000 System Preparation (Sysprep) Utility is included on the Windows 2000 operating system CD in the \Support\Tools\Deploy.cab folder. This document discusses how to prepare for and use Sysprep in the rapid deployment of the Windows 2000 operating system on many computers with compatible configurations. (The discussion that follows takes into account the changes introduced with version 1.1 of the utility, which is an update to version 1.0 found on the operating system CD.)
NOTE: The recommended and current version of Sysprep (version 1.1 as of April 2000) can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/deployment/sysprep.
Sysprep for Windows 2000 is a simple utility that prepares a system on a hard disk for duplication (or cloning) and customization. It does not in itself perform the actual duplication of the master image onto target machines (third-party utilities are required for this purpose), but ensures that the security identifiers (SIDs) are unique for each target system. Further, Sysprep invokes the Mini-Setup Wizard, which can be used to customize duplicated images with computer-specific information such as user name, computer name, time zone, and domain membership.
Once a workstation’s or server’s disk is prepared, administrators can easily deploy Windows 2000 by duplicating it on computers throughout their organization, reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) by reducing the cost of deployment. And by combining Sysprep with Microsoft management technologies, such as Systems Management Server or IntelliMirror™, companies benefit from better disaster recovery, easier operating system and application management, and an improved lifecycle of hardware and software inventory.
This document assumes familiarity with the installation process for both Windows 2000 Professional and Server. If you are planning to use Sysprep for automating server deployment, then it is recommended that you have an understanding of the process of enabling a Windows 2000 Server–based server to become a domain controller (by invoking the Active Directory™ Installation Wizard), and knowledge of Windows 2000 SIDs.
Purpose of Disk Duplication
Corporate customers deploying thousands of Windows-based computers on similar hardware in homogeneous computing environments want the ability to customize a single computer and duplicate its hard disk (or ‘image’) onto other corporate computers. Also, network administrators want the ability to replace computers in time-critical environments very quickly when necessary.
Sysprep is designed to reduce the costs incurred by organizations whose system administrators would normally either preinstall their client computers or physically visit each client to install the operating system. It enables the administrator (or third-party integrator) to duplicate a single workstation configuration onto multiple clients, thus saving considerably on administrative time and resources. The administrator needs only to make a set of assumptions about the computer setup, thereby eliminating much of the overhead of a standard Windows installation.
Requirements & Prerequisites
To use Sysprep as part of the disk duplication process, the following requirements must be met:
•      The master and destination computers must have compatible hardware abstraction layers (HALs)—that is, the HALs supported on each of the computers must be in the same general family. For example, an Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) multiprocessor HAL is not compatible with a non-ACPI multiprocessor HAL. (To determine the type of HAL on a computer running Windows 2000, open Device Manager and expand the Computer object.)
•      With Sysprep 1.0, the mass storage controller on the master computer must be identical to the controllers on the destination computers. Version 1.1 of the tool, however, makes it possible to get around this requirement: The administrator must identify the different mass storage controllers that may be installed on each destination computer in the Sysprep.inf file (see below) before creating the master image. This allows Sysprep to pre-populate the necessary driver information so that Windows 2000 can load the correct drivers when it boots on a computer that has one of the predefined mass storage controllers. This method is ideal for the following situations:
o      IDE to IDE. The master image is created on a computer that uses a different IDE controller than the destination computers. For example, the master computer uses a PCI IDE controller; the destination computers use an Intel IDE controller.
o      IDE to SCSI. The master image is created on a computer that uses an IDE controller, and the destination computers use SCSI controllers. For example, the master computer uses a PCI IDE controller; some of the destination computers start from a SCSI controller such as an Adaptec 7800.
o      SCSI to SCSI. The master image is created on a computer that uses a different SCSI controller than the destination computers. For example, the master computer uses an Adaptec 7800 controller; the destination computers use a Qlogic controller.
o      SCSI to IDE. The master image is created on a computer that uses a SCSI controller, and the destination computers use IDE controllers. For example, the master computer uses an Adaptec 7800 controller; some of the destination computers start from an IDE controller.
•      Plug and Play devices such as modems, sound cards, network cards, video cards, and so forth do not have to be the same, but drivers for those devices should be signed and available on the computer. (For more information, see the “Preinstalling Plug and Play Devices” section below.)
•      Third-party software or disk-duplicating hardware devices are required. These products create binary images of a computer’s hard disk, and they either duplicate the image to another hard disk or store the image in a file on a separate disk. (A list of companies that supply Windows 2000 deployment tools, and specifically disk-imaging software, can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/Windows2000/guide/server/partners/deploymentisvs.asp.)
•      The size of the destination computer’s hard disk must be at least the same size as the master computer’s hard disk. If the destination computer has a larger hard disk, the partition size on the destination hard disk will be the same as that of the master computer. However, you can use the ExtendOemPartition key in the Sysprep.inf file (see below) to extend the primary partition provided that it is formatted with the Windows NT® file system (NTFS).
•      You must have licenses for all the copies of both the operating system and the applications you want to duplicate onto multiple machines. Using Sysprep does not grant you any rights to duplicate software without the permission of the software vendors whose software may be installed on the computer.
NOTE: If your deployment situation does not fulfill these requirements—for example, if the HALs are incompatible—you can still benefit from automated deployment methods for Windows 2000. For more information, see the Windows 2000 Deployment Planning Guide at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/library/resources/reskit/dpg.
Before starting the disk duplication process, you should have a master computer on which to install and configure your software as it will appear on the destination computers. You should also have a good understanding of your computing environment and how it affects hardware and software. For example:
•      Identify applications that are not profile-aware. A profile-aware application creates required application settings in a common location, so those settings are accessible to any user logged on. An application that needs to be installed under individual user profiles is not profile-aware.
•      Determine in what instances new installations (or “clean installs”), preinstallations, or upgrades will work best in your environment. A new installation is typically where an existing computer is ‘refreshed’ and has a completely new operating system installed on a clean hard drive. A preinstallation is where a computer is supplied with at least the operating system already installed. The major alternative for existing computers is to perform an upgrade, where the existing operating system (such as Windows 95 or Windows NT Workstation) is upgraded in situ, without any reformatting of the hard drive.
•      Understand how software is used at different locations, such as branch locations and international offices.
•      Understand how the use of laptops can affect software location and installation.
Furthermore, you should understand fundamental deployment issues and strategies, such as hardware compatibility and basic input/output system (BIOS) updates, which are not treated in any detail here.
NOTE: For detailed information on hardware and software compatibility issues, please refer to http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/upgrade/default.asp.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, assure that all of the software, including the operating system, is being copied in accordance with the licensing agreement with the software manufacturers. The strategies described in this document do not confer any right to duplicate software not expressly permitted by the terms of its licensing agreement.
Overview of the Computer Duplication Process
There are five basic steps to follow in the disk duplication process:
1.      Install Windows 2000. Install Windows 2000 Professional or Server on a computer with hardware similar to the intended destination computers. For more information about hardware requirements, see the “Prerequisites & Requirements” section above. When building the computer, do not join a domain, and keep the local Administrator password blank (if it is not left blank, it will be impossible to change it later in the process when the Mini-Setup Wizard prompts you to specify an Administrator password). Also, be sure to create your master image on a dedicated, rather than production, machine.
2.      Configure the computer. Create a local user account with Administrator privileges, and log on as that user to install and customize applications, such as Office 2000, business-specific applications, and other applications or settings that will be common for all workstations created from this image. For servers, you may wish to install Internet Information Services (IIS) or other standard Windows 2000 services (however, do not at this point make the computer a domain controller by running the Active Directory Installation Wizard). Once you have customized the system, log off as that user and log back on as Administrator. Then, copy that user profile to the Default Users folder.
3.      Validate the image. Run a computer audit based on your criteria in order to verify the image configuration is correct. After the audit is complete, remove residual information such as any mapped drives, persistent connections, event logs, and history before duplicating the master workstation.
4.      Prepare the computer for duplication. Once you are confident that the computer is exactly the way you want it to be, you’re ready to prepare the computer for duplication. Run the Sysprep utility, optionally with Sysprep.inf, to prepare the computer for duplication. When Sysprep is complete, the computer will either shut down automatically or indicate that it is safe to shut it down. For more information about Sysprep.inf, see the “Components of Sysprep” section below.
5.      Duplicate. At this point, the master computer’s hard disk has been triggered to run Plug and Play detection, create new SIDs, and run the Mini-Setup Wizard the next time the system is started. The system is now ready to be duplicated or imaged. The next time Windows 2000 is booted from this hard disk, or any duplicated hard disk created from this image, the duplication process will complete.
A graphic representation of the duplication process can be found below in Appendix A: Schematic Diagram of the Disk Duplication Process.
Components of Sysprep
There are three files that make up the Windows 2000 Sysprep Utility:
•      Sysprep.exe, a command-line tool that prepares the hard disk on the master computer for duplication.
•      Setupcl.exe, a tool that regenerates new SIDs for the computer. (This tool cannot be invoked directly and must reside in the same folder as Sysprep.exe.)
•      Sysprep.inf, an optional answer file that is used to automate the Mini-Setup process of an imaged computer.
Sysprep.exe and Setupcl.exe are required files, and are dependent on each other. Both can be found on the Windows 2000 CD in the Deploy.cab file; their latest versions can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/downloads/deployment/sysprep. (Sample Sysprep.inf answer files can be found below in “Example 1: Building a Standard Departmental Workstation” and “Example 2: Deploying Remote Office Servers.”)
Sysprep and Setupcl
Once the master computer is configured with applications and settings and is ready to be duplicated, run Sysprep, which is a simple program that:
•      Configures the installation to start the Mini-Setup Wizard upon next reboot; Mini-Setup includes the re-enumeration of any Plug and Play devices.
•      Copies Setupcl.exe to %SystemRoot%\SYSTEM32 and arranges for Setupcl to run at the next boot.
•      Pre-processes sections of Sysprep.inf before the computer shuts down. (If, for example, you are using Sysprep 1.1 and have specified different mass storage controllers in the SysprepMassStorage section of the answer file, this section will be processed at this time.)
•      Issues a shutdown command to Windows.
When Sysprep completes and the computer shuts down, the hard disk is ready to be duplicated. At this point, you can use imaging hardware or software to duplicate the disk.
NOTE: For a listing of third-party vendors that provide Windows 2000 deployment tools, including disk-imaging software, please refer to http://www.microsoft.com/Windows2000/guide/server/partners/deploymentisvs.asp.
The next time the master computer or any drive duplicated from the master computer starts, Setupcl runs, Plug and Play detection begins, and the Mini-Setup Wizard starts. The Mini-Setup Wizard looks for a Sysprep.inf file to supply information that the user must otherwise provide. If Sysprep.inf is found in %WinDir%\Sysprep or on the primary floppy disk, Mini-Setup will parse the information contained therein and determine if additional information needs to be collected from the computer. The computer is then restarted and the computer is ready for use. The settings of the destination computer will be based on the duplicated image, plus any changes made during Mini-Setup.
NOTE: If the master computer is connected to a domain, it is silently removed from it when Sysprep.exe runs. Sysprep.inf can be used to (re-)connect the computer to a domain when the Mini-Setup Wizard executes.
Sysprep Syntax
This is the syntax for Sysprep:
Sysprep [/nosidgen | /quiet | /reboot | /pnp | /forceshutdown]
This tool prepares the computer for duplication and then shuts down the computer. Sysprep can be started using the following command line options:
•      /quiet. Prevents confirmation dialog boxes from being displayed to the user while Sysprep runs on the master computer. This is useful for the administrator who wants to automate Sysprep by adding it to the GuiRunOnce key of the Unattend.txt file.
•      /nosidgen. Notifies Sysprep not to generate new SIDs on the reboot (note that the disk cannot be duplicated if this switch is used). This is useful for the administrator who doesn’t intend to clone the computer on which Sysprep is running or who wishes to preinstall domain controllers.
•      /reboot. Forces Sysprep to reboot the computer at completion instead of shutting down, and then start Mini-Setup. This is useful for auditing the system and verifying that Mini-Setup is operating correctly.
•      /pnp. Forces a complete re-enumeration of all devices in the system. This will add about 5 to 10 minutes to the duration of the Mini-Setup Wizard. For Plug and Play devices, this switch is not required; it is only useful when ISA or other non–Plug and Play devices that cannot be dynamically detected exist on the target systems.  
•      /forceshutdown. Forces the system to shutdown in the case where the system will not do so normally after running Sysprep.exe (with or without using the /reboot switch). This option is available only in Sysprep 1.1.
The Sysprep and Setupcl files can exist either on a floppy disk, or placed in the %SystemDrive%\Sysprep folder on the hard disk; this folder and its contents are automatically deleted once Sysprep is finished.
As part of the process of building and then deploying a standard image, you will likely need to customize minor settings and parameters for individual destination machines. For example, every Windows 2000–based computer needs to have a unique computer name. The Mini-Setup Wizard usually prompts users for remaining information. However, in many cases you may want to use Sysprep.inf, an optional answer file, to automate this input if you know the necessary information and do not want the user to be prompted for it. By using a Sysprep.inf file, you can have the Mini-Setup Wizard prompt for certain pieces of information, or create a completely automated installation.
To use Sysprep.inf, there are two basic criteria:
•      It must exist with Sysprep and Setupcl in the %SystemDrive%\Sysprep folder on the local hard disk, or on the primary floppy disk.
•      It cannot be named anything other than Sysprep.inf.
NOTE: You can use Setup Manager, a tool available on the Windows 2000 CD, to help create the Sysprep.inf file. For more information about Setup Manager, see the relevant sections of Chapters 13 and 25 of the Deployment Planning Guide available online at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/library/resources/reskit/dpg/default.asp
The Sysprep.inf file uses the same INF syntax and key names as the Setup answer file, Unattend.txt, and supports most of the same values as well. Specifically, Sysprep.inf consists of a subset of the Windows 2000 Unattended Setup Mode parameters. For a list of all parameters, see the Windows 2000 Guide to Unattended Setup in the Deploy.cab file on the Windows 2000 CD. Note the two parameters that apply only to Sysprep.inf: KeepPageFile and InstallFilesPath.
      A sample Sysprep.inf answer file may include the following parameters:
    TimeZone = 20
    OemSkipWelcome = 1

    FullName = "<Authorized User>"
    OrgName = "<Company Name, Inc.>"
    ComputerName = W2B32054

    JoinWorkgroup = <WorkgroupName>

The entire contents of the %SystemDrive%\Sysprep folder on the hard disk is deleted after Sysprep is run. If desired, you can place other things in this folder, such as a BIOS flash utility or custom scripts you want to run, to be deleted after the disk duplication process is complete.
Mini-Setup Wizard
The Mini-Setup Wizard launches the first time a computer is booted from a disk that has been duplicated. It gathers any information that is needed for the newly duplicated destination computer. If Sysprep.inf is not used, the Mini-Setup Wizard will display the following screens:
•      Welcome
•      Microsoft License Agreement
•      Product ID
•      Regional settings
•      User name and company
•      Computer name and administrator password
•      TAPI settings (only if a modem is present)
•      Network configuration
•      Join workgroup or domain (workstation only)
•      Server licensing (server only)
•      Time-zone selection
•      Finish/Restart
      To bypass these pages and have Sysprep completely automate an installation, you can specify, at a minimum, the following keys in Sysprep.inf:
Dialog Box Prompt
From Mini-Setup      Key and Value Required
To Bypass Dialog Box
Welcome      [GuiUnattended]
      OEMSkipWelcome = 1
Microsoft License Agreement       [Unattended]
      OemSkipEula = Yes
Regional settings       [GuiUnattended]
      OemSkipRegional = Yes
User name and company       [UserData]
      FullName = <Authorized User>
      OrgName = <CompanyName, Inc.>
Computer name and administrator password      [UserData]
      ComputerName = <ComputerName>
      AdminPassword = *
Domain membership      [Identification]
      JoinWorkgroup = <WorkgroupName>
Network settings      [Networking]
      InstallDefaultComponents = Yes
Server licensing (server only)       [LicenseFilePrintData]
      AutoMode = PerServer
      AutoUsers = 5
Time-zone selection       [GuiUnattended]
      TimeZone = 4
Product identification number      [UserData]
      ProductID = <ProductIDNumber>
      The Mini-Setup Wizard is a very powerful and flexible tool for customizing a Sysprep installation. By specifying options in Sysprep.inf, you can have Mini-Setup further configure and customize your Sysprep image. For example, you can have the Mini-Setup Wizard run commands when a user first logs on at the end of Mini-Setup.
NOTE: Refer to the Windows 2000 Guide to Unattended Setup in the Deploy.cab file on the Windows 2000 CD for a complete listing of all options.
Preinstalling Plug and Play Devices
By default, drivers for hardware are located in the Drivers.cab file on the Windows 2000 CD. When a Windows 2000–based computer starts up, it initiates automatic Plug and Play detection and derives drivers for any new hardware it detects from this file
Adding New Drivers to Sysprep Setup
When creating your deployment image, if you have Plug and Play drivers that are not included on the Windows 2000 CD, you need to specify an alternate path in the OemPnPDriversPath key in the Unattended section of the Sysprep.inf answer file. The folders named in the path must contain not only the drivers but the catalog and INF files as well. If, in the course of starting up, a computer detects a hardware device for which there are no drivers in the default Drivers.cab, it will then check in the location specified in the OemPnpDriversPath key.
The procedure for adding drivers to a Sysprep setup has three basic steps:
1.      On the root of the volume where the %WinDir% folder is located, create a folder structure to hold the new drivers.
2.      Copy the new drivers into their appropriate subfolders.
3.      Add the OemPnPDriversPath = <DriverPaths> entry in the Unattended section of the answer file, where DriverPaths represents the folder(s) where the drivers are located. You can list multiple paths in this key by separating them with a semicolon (;), as shown in the following example:
    OemPnPDriversPath = Drivers\NIC;Drivers\Video
If you do not want the new drivers to remain on the volume after the Mini-Setup Wizard is finished, you can place the folder structure you created in the previous step underneath the Sysprep folder. You need to adjust the OemPnPDriversPath key appropriately. The Sysprep folder (along with all its subfolders) is automatically removed after Setup is finished.
Save the Sysprep.inf file in the Sysprep folder and run Sysprep.exe. Any Plug and Play devices (including those found using the OEM driver .inf files) are automatically installed during the Mini-Setup on the target computers. Note that you do not need to specify the /pnp command-line switch unless there are legacy (ISA) devices on the target computers. If you use the /pnp command-line switch, a full Plug and Play re-enumeration of all devices is performed, which adds 5-10 minutes to the Sysprep mini-wizard process. Also, when you specify additional mass-storage controllers using Sysprep version 1.1, the /pnp command-line switch may cause some additional hard disk controllers to appear in Device Manager (this is a cosmetic side-effect and will not affect the system in any way).
If the new drivers are not digitally signed, the Mini-Setup Wizard postpones the installation of the device until an administrator logs on to the computer. This is referred to as client-side versus server-side installation, which occurs during Mini-Setup.
NOTE: To add third-party mass-storage drivers to the Sysprep image that you will also use to start the computer, you need version 1.1 of Sysprep.

Extending the Use of Sysprep
While Sysprep was initially created for the purpose of facilitating the speedy duplication of workstations, it has other uses in Windows 2000, as described in what follows.
Invoking Mini-Setup Wizard as a Configuration Tool
The Mini-Setup Wizard is responsible for collecting configuration information about a workstation, and making necessary customizations as a final part of the overall setup process. However, it can also be invoked by Sysprep and used as a separate tool in situations where the computer has been almost completely built and only the final configuration remains.
To prevent a user from having to complete the entire setup process in order to customize the computer, run Sysprep to re-enable the Mini-Setup Wizard. The user will then answer a minimal set of questions to configure the computer to their needs; for example, if the user needs to join a domain, provide a computer name, or supply telephony information. Also, if you need to reconfigure a computer, you can avoid rebuilding it by running the Mini-Setup Wizard again; the /nosidgen switch prevents the pertinent step in Sysprep from creating a new computer SID.
Duplicating Servers & Creating Domain Controllers
An important feature of Windows 2000 Sysprep is its ability to duplicate member servers. The process for duplicating servers is identical to that of duplicating workstations. Install the operating system, configure and install any applications or services, and run Sysprep on the master computer.
While you cannot duplicate servers that are domain controllers, or have services installed that depend on configuration information in Active Directory, you can duplicate member servers and then run dcpromo on a destination computer, which completely automates the deployment of a new domain controller. (dcpromo invokes the Active Directory Installation Wizard, which is used to create or demote domain controllers on computers running Windows 2000 Server, Advanced Server, or Datacenter Server.)
To automate the installation of a domain controller after the initial setup of Windows 2000 is complete, specify the values in the DCInstall section of the answer file. You can create an answer file that contains only the DCInstall section. If you do not specify a value for an option, the default value is used. The command line is dcpromo /answer:<answerfile>, where <answerfile> is the name of the answer file to be used.
NOTE: For the complete contents of the DCInstall section, see the Windows 2000 Guide to Unattended Setup in the Deploy.cab file on the Windows 2000 CD.
Recommended Practices
This section discusses some common strategies when planning and developing deployments, and integrating Sysprep with them.
Use a Distribution Folder for Your Builds
      When creating a master workstation, you may be using Sysprep for the creation of several slightly different iterations of the workstation image. In addition, you may be creating images for several computers that require different types of hardware drivers not included on the Windows 2000 CD. Therefore, creating a distribution folder for your workstation builds provides two major benefits:
•      Testing will be streamlined because all pertinent files can be easily found and accessed from a central location.
•      A centralized location for files and drivers that should be applied to the system provides assurance that required files will be copied and consistent across multiple builds.
Note that a central build location is required if you need to add drivers to the build. Also, when you begin to build your master workstation, start with an installation from this distribution folder; this will make it easier to generate and manage updated images in the future.
NOTE: You can use Setup Manager, a tool available on the Windows 2000 CD, to help create the distribution folder. For more information about Setup Manager and distribution folders, see the relevant sections of Chapters 13 and 25 of the Deployment Planning Guide available online at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/library/resources/reskit/dpg/default.asp.
Automate Builds with an Answer File
As mentioned earlier, Sysprep.inf is an answer file that can be used to automate the final setup of imaged machines. You can also use an answer file to automate the creation of your builds before running Sysprep. When installing Windows 2000 from the CD, a user would normally be required to go through a series of screens and manually enter essential system setup information. The Unattend.txt answer file can automate this process and thus eliminate the need for user input during installation. The answer file also tells Setup how to interact with the distribution folder, if used.  
There are important advantages to using Unattend.txt to automate your deployments. An answer file makes testing easier because the configurations will already be scripted and should reduce the chances for human error. Additionally, an answer file makes it much easier to maintain the source and rebuild the system from scratch, should the need ever arise.
NOTE: For more information on the Unattend.txt answer file, refer to the “Windows 2000 Guide to Unattended Setup” (Unattend.doc) found on the Windows 2000 CD (the Unattend.doc file is part of the Deploy.cab file in the \Support\Tools folder), as well as to the relevant sections of Chapters 13, 25, and Appendix C of the Deployment Planning Guide available online at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/library/resources/reskit/dpg/default.asp.
Configure Default User Profiles
Create a local user account with Administrator privileges when configuring your workstation and installing applications. By performing application installations as a member of the Administrator group, you can customize the environment the end user will experience and prevent the loss of settings from applications that are not profile-aware. Once you have completed installing applications, enable the profile as the default user profile on the workstation by following these steps:
1.      In Control Panel, click System.
2.      Click the User Profiles tab.
3.      Select the user profile you created from Profiles stored on this computer.
4.      Click Copy To.
5.      Click Browse. Expand the folder list to show: %SystemDrive%\Documents and Setttings\Default User. (The %SystemDrive% location is typically your C:\ drive, or the drive on which Windows 2000 is installed.)
6.      Select to highlight the Default User folder then click OK.
7.       Under Permitted to use, click Change.
8.       In the Select User or Group dialog box, click Everyone.
Focus on the Foundation
If you determine that you need to create multiple images, try to limit their composition to core tools and applications commonly used in your environment. With multiple images come multiple permutations of testing and maintenance—a main contributor to increased TCO. Try to keep the number of base workstation images small and customize the resulting installations by using Sysprep.inf.
You can also use the Change and Configuration Management features of Windows 2000, such as Group Policy and IntelliMirror management technologies, to manage the distribution of applications after an image-based deployment of the operating system. It is helpful to compare the benefits of using policies rather than deploying applications to a workstation as part of an image. Here are some general guidelines for the use of each method:
•      Use policies and IntelliMirror to advertise tools and applications used by only certain groups of users.
•      Use disk-image-based deployment of applications that are frequently or widely used to the individual computers.
•      Use disk-image-based deployment of applications to workstations to alleviate dependency on network resources.
NOTE: For more information on Group Policy and IntelliMirror, refer to the Introduction to Windows 2000 Group Policy at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/library/howitworks/management/grouppolicyintro.asp and Chapter 23 of the Deployment Planning Guide available at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000/library/resources/reskit/dpg/default.asp.
Determining the Core Image Components
It is important to decide at the planning stage what components of a build belong in the base image, and what components should be set during actual deployment.
In general, if a software component is needed and intended for all workstations, it belongs in the image. Examples of this include:
•      Virus scanning software
•      Core productivity software
•      For laptops that dial into the same corporate remote access number or that use the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) to access the same authentication server, an appropriate connectoid on the desktop
On the other hand, if there is a setting that changes depending on the type of workstation being deployed, add custom settings of this sort to the Sysprep.inf answer file. Examples of this include:
•      RunOnce items that serve to preinstall department-specific applications at the time the operating system is installed on the user’s computer.
•      Printers defined at the building or workgroup level.
•      Static Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) addresses.
In general, if a software component or setting is meant to be uniform throughout the organization, then it should be included in the image. If, however, it is meant to be customized at the district or department level, then it should be included in the image with a default value that can be changed later using Sysprep.inf and the Mini-Setup Wizard.
Add Multilingual Support
Windows 2000 has excellent multilingual support, which extends to the creation of images that contain multiple languages for an organization. It is now possible to maintain a single image that supports many languages.
You can use one of two methods to add multilingual support (if desired) to a Sysprep-facilitated installation:
•      Use Setup Manager to create the Sysprep folder and copy the required language files into it. Setup Manager copies the language files by default to the Sysprep folder, so they are removed after Sysprep has finished.  
•      Copy the \i386 directory (including the Lang subdirectories) to the Sysprep folder and set the InstallFilesPath key to point to it: %SystemDrive%\Sysprep\i386. These files will be removed after Sysprep has finished.
Minimize the Size of the Image
There are several strategies you can use to reduce the size of the Sysprep image, and thus save on the time needed for deployment:
•      Run the Disk Cleanup Tool (Cleanmgr.exe). This will remove any Windows 2000 temporary files, Recycle Bin files, and temporary Internet files, ActiveX® controls, and so forth on the system.
•      If you plan to make use of the Hibernate power management option, enable this option as the last thing you do before running Sysprep, or remove the Hibernate file when you create your image. Since the size of the Hibernate file is proportional to the amount of system memory, this file could occupy a significant portion of your image. The file is called Hiberfil.sys (hidden and system file) and is located on %SystemDrive%.
•      You can use the ExtendOEMPartition key to minimize the size of the imaged disk partition. ExtendOEMPartition can extend the system partition to a set size or fill the whole disk very quickly. (Note that this option is valid only for NTFS partitions.)
•      If you want to reduce the Sysprep image size by removing the pagefile, you need to:
1.      Ensure that the file system for the drive is FAT or FAT32.
2.      Run Sysprep.exe and then shut down the system.
3.      Boot with a Windows 95, Windows 98, or MS-DOS boot disk (if FAT32, it must be a Windows 98 boot disk).
4.      Delete Pagefile.sys at the root of the volume C:\.
Sysprep will then generate a pagefile for you automatically when Mini-Setup starts.
NOTE: If the file system for the partition is NTFS, the method outlined above is not supported; currently the only way to delete Pagefile.sys on an NTFS partition is by temporarily installing the drive into another system and using the second system to execute the deletion (a method which can also be used for FAT or FAT32 partitions).
•      Run Chkdsk and the disk defragmentation tool contained with Windows 2000 or similar third-party tools supported by Windows 2000. This will make sure there are no problems with the system disk before duplication.
Consider Using Installation Centers
Some corporations outsource computer builds to integration centers for pre-installations. By providing a CD or network-based installation and a properly scripted Sysprep.inf, you can deploy mass numbers of computers in short periods of time. By using the Mini-Setup Wizard to complete the final gathering of information, much of the workstation creation tasks can be outsourced with higher degrees of reliability than manual installations.
Distribution Techniques
Once you have created a Windows 2000–based image, there are several ways to distribute it: over the network with an unattended answer file; by physically installing newly imaged hard drives in target machines; or by using a bootable CD.
NOTE: Before deployment, it is recommended that you evaluate the BIOS on all the target computers (consult the computer vendors’ Web sites for information on their recommended BIOS for Windows 2000). Also, consider whether you need to repartition any hard disks on workstations as part of your comprehensive plan.
Downloading from the Network
Windows NT 4.0 gave system administrators the ability to deploy the operating system over a network by means of an unattended answer file. This feature has been extended for Windows 2000 to include the distribution of duplicated images. If you intend to distribute a duplicated image over the network, you first need to:
1.      Create a distribution point on a server that contains a library of images.
2.      Create a network boot floppy disk that contains an operating system with network capabilities; this is used to start the destination computer.
Once logged onto the network by means of the boot disk, the destination computer connects to the network share, and begins the image restoration based on the drive-imaging solution. The process from the point of log on can be automated, or the user can be prompted to choose from a list of available images on the server, invoke BIOS flash utilities, and create or manage partitions before the image restoration begins.
Typically, network installations are the slowest method of deployment, and are of course heavily dependent on the network. If you are considering this deployment method and have Windows 2000–based servers, you may wish to consider using Remote Installation Services (RIS) for over-the-network installations (see the “Sysprep vs. Remote Installation Services” section below for further information).
Installing New Hard Disks
Many large corporations take advantage of integration centers for new workstation deployments. Essentially, the master computer’s hard disk is removed and duplicated by a second computer onto disks, which are then installed into the destination computers.
This solution involves opening cases to workstations, which, in many cases, takes longer than a CD-based or network-based deployment.
Using a Bootable CD
Using a bootable CD can provide a complete Windows 2000 deployment, including applications, in minutes. The easiest method for creating a bootable CD is by means of CD-creation tools that permit a floppy-emulation boot. In short, you need to provide a boot floppy disk capable of reading the CD and a Windows 2000–based image. The boot floppy disk must load the appropriate CD drivers, and have the syntax in place to start the image restore created by the drive-imaging software.
The destination computers need a version of the BIOS that enables the CD drive as a boot device. Once the build process is complete, a user inserts the CD into a computer, boots from the CD, and initiates a restore of the partition. The restore itself is based on a scripted facility provided by the imaging software.
NOTE: The target computer must have El Torito No Emulation support for bootable CDs.
One of the benefits of a CD-based deployment is that it does not depend upon the sometimes limited resources of a network (which can produce slow downloads). The obvious drawback is the limited space on a CD—approximately 640 megabytes (MB) of usable space. However, current software permits spanning images across multiple CDs.
Sysprep Compared to RIS & Unattended Installation
Sysprep vs. Remote Installation Services
In Windows 2000, there are several methods for deploying the base operating system and, optionally, applications and specific settings on the workstation. Remote Installation Services (RIS) is similar to Sysprep in that you can use it to install an administrator-configured Windows 2000 image on a workstation, except that it takes advantage of many abilities of the network hardware in the destination computer, such as the ability to boot the workstation from the network adapter. Therefore, it relies heavily on the network infrastructure, including the Active Directory service.
NOTE: For further information on Remote Installation Services, please refer to the Step-by-Step Guide to Remote OS Installation at http://www.microsoft.com/WINDOWS2000/library/planning/management/remotesteps.asp and the “Remote Operating System Installation” white paper available for download at http://www.microsoft.com/WINDOWS2000/library/planning/management/remoteos.asp
Recall that there are Sysprep-based deployment methods, such as the use of a bootable CD, that are not dependent on the network. Such methods are more suitable for deployments to client machines not connected to a network, or whose access to a central server is slow. In addition, Sysprep can enable deployment in environments where Active Directory is not yet implemented. Finally, Sysprep is a more appropriate tool for mass deployment scenarios where hundreds of computers are deployed in a staging area and whose keyboards, mouse devices, and monitors may never be hooked up during the computer deployment.
Sysprep vs. Unattended Installation
Sysprep and unattended installation are similar in that they are both automated deployment methods designed to reduce the need for end-user input in the setup process. Further, the Sysprep.inf answer file, which serves to automate client installation post-imaging, is based on the same syntax as that of an answer file often used in unattended installation, Unattend.txt (Sysprep, however, supports only a subset of the parameters used in the Unattend.txt file).
The differences between the two methods are more informative. With Sysprep, you construct an image that includes the operating system, basic settings, and core applications. You then use that image as a master for duplication in a new installation process on multiple machines with compatible hardware configurations. With unattended installation, you install only the operating system on target machines, each separately. Accordingly, this means that you must install any applications separately after the fact. The advantage of this method is that you are not constrained by the hardware requirements of the Sysprep method and you can thus use it for a variety of hardware configurations. The main disadvantage of this method is that the process is more time-consuming (especially if done over a network) and involves many more steps, and would therefore be of less benefit to large organizations with massive deployments.
Example 1: Building a Standard Departmental Workstation
Assume a corporation has a customer service department with 500 representatives. All workstations are configured to run a business application used to retrieve customer records, in addition to running e-mail and some other office applications. The department has grown over time, so while the computer types are the same, the peripherals (network adapters, amount of memory, and so on) and versions of operating systems and applications differ from computer to computer. The department has agreed to update the workstations with Windows 2000 Professional to reduce the TCO for maintaining several different operating systems and applications.
All documents are stored on a file server, and all workstations share a single Microsoft Exchange server. This means there will be no issues with erasing the hard disks, as no information is stored on an individual user’s computer.
Workstation names match the representative’s physical location, a combination of floor number and office number, and their user name.
During the redeployment, the corporate IT staff only has access to the workstation for a short period of time, because the department receives calls 24 hours a day. Staff members decide to use disk duplication to deploy the new standard image, since all software configurations should be identical. Also, they determine that upgrading the existing configurations may increase risk and deployment time without any extra benefit. Two methods of installation will be used—a CD-based deployment to keep network traffic low, and a network-based method for computers that do not have a CD-ROM drive.
The IT administrator begins creating a standard image by installing Windows 2000 Professional, Office 2000, and the customer service application onto a computer that closely resembles those used by the representatives. In addition, drivers for hardware known to exist in some computers but not on the Windows 2000 CD are also copied to the computer. The central shared printer is installed, and a favorite URL for the company intranet is added to Internet Explorer.
Once the computer configuration is tested and approved by the customer service department lead, the administrator is ready to prepare the master computer for duplication. The administrator uses Setup Manager to create a Sysprep.inf answer file that will completely automate the installation except for providing the computer name. The administrator creates a Sysprep folder on hard drive C:\ and copies Sysprep.inf, Sysprep.exe, and Setupcl.exe into the directory. The Sysprep.inf file has the following parameters:
    OemSkipEula = Yes

    AdminPassword = *
    TimeZone = 20
    OemSkipWelcome = 1

    FullName = "Customer Service Department"
    OrgName = "MyCompany, Inc."

    JoinDomain = CORPDOM
    DomainAdmin = CORPDOM\AcctAddID
    DomainAdminPassword = CORPDOM\good!pass3

    InstallDefaultComponents = Yes
Because the ComputerName parameter is not included in the UserData section, the Mini-Setup Wizard will prompt for the name of the computer.
The administrator runs Sysprep from the C:\Sysprep directory. When the computer shuts down, it is ready for duplication. The administrator then runs a software-based, disk-imaging utility to create an image file. To facilitate the network installation, the administrator places the image on several network servers, and creates a network boot disk to enable a computer to connect to the network server and start the installation. In addition, the administrator creates a bootable CD image from the master image using a CD-creation utility, and sends it to a facility for duplication.
In a phased approach, the administrator’s team begins to deploy the workstations. Hardware in the computers is automatically detected as the department-specific image is installed. When customer service representatives boot their computers from the image for the first time, the Mini-Setup Wizard prompts them to supply the computer name. At this point, the deployment process is complete. Since the department has a high rate of employee turnover, instead of redeploying the computer, the administrator needs merely run Sysprep to invoke the Mini-Setup Wizard and change the computer name for the new user.
Example 2: Deploying Remote Office Servers
The IT department of a large business will be deploying Windows 2000 based servers over the next several months. Many of these servers are in regional offices with no IT administrator.
Based on company requirements and the Windows 2000–based server infrastructure design, the regional server configuration consists of Windows 2000–based servers running file and printer sharing, Web services with COM+, and a Web-based order processing application. The regional servers will all have virtually identical configurations.
The IT department decides to use Sysprep to duplicate these regional servers. They plan on creating a Sysprep image together with bootable CDs, which will be sent to the regional offices with a simple set of instructions for the end users. All servers in this business have fixed Internet Protocol (IP) addresses; therefore, each server will have to be configured for its unique address when it is set up at a regional office.
Another element in this scenario is that some of these servers will need to run Active Directory and function as domain controllers. As mentioned previously, a domain controller cannot be duplicated, but a server can: Thus, once a newly configured server boots up for the first time, it can be converted to a domain controller by running dcpromo, which invokes the Active Directory Installation Wizard.
To create the master image, the administrator begins by building a Windows 2000–based server on hardware similar to the servers available at the regional offices. The administrator installs and configures Internet Information Services (IIS), the Web application, and Terminal Services in Remote Administration mode, so the central IT group can easily administer the remote server.
Once the server is built and configured, the administrator runs Sysprep, and then runs disk duplication software. The administrator uses CD-creation software to create a bootable CD. To prevent any local configuration problems and to reduce the risk of human error in entering information manually, the IT group decides to distribute unique Sysprep.inf files on floppy disks rather than rely on the Mini-Setup Wizard to prompt the local regional user to enter IP address information.
When a regional office employee is ready to build the Windows 2000–based server, the user boots from the CD to restore the image. After the image is restored and immediately when Windows 2000 starts to load from the hard disk, the regional user inserts the floppy disk, prompting the Mini-Setup Wizard to capture the information from the Sysprep.inf answer file.
The following Sysprep.inf answer file is used to completely automate the server installation and provide the IP address and computer name:
    UnattendMode = FullUnattended
    OemSkipEula = Yes
    OemPreInstall = No
    TargetPath = \WINNT

    AdminPassword = *
    AutoLogon = Yes
    OEMSkipRegional = 1
    TimeZone = 20
    OemSkipWelcome = 1

    FullName = "Corporate Server Name"
    OrgName = "Company Name, Inc."
    ComputerName = 005-REGSRV-1

    AutoMode = PerSeat

    Command0 = "dcpromo /answer:ansfile.txt"

    JoinDomain = REGDOM
    CreateComputerAccountInDomain = Yes
    DomainAdmin = CORPDOM\IDAcct
    DomainAdminPassword = password


    Adapter1 = params.Adapter1

    INFID = *

    MS_MSClient = params.MS_MSClient

    RPCSupportForBanyan = No

    MS_SERVER = params.MS_SERVER
For those servers designated to become domain controllers, once the Mini-Setup Wizard completes, the computer restarts and executes the instructions in the GuiRunOnce section of the answer file, which in this case executes the script that installs the server as a domain controller running Active Directory.
The following script promotes the server to a domain controller:
    Command0 = “dcpromo /answer:ansfile.txt”

where the answer file, Ansfile.txt, contains the following parameters:
    UserName = CorpAdminUser
    Password = SomeGoodPa$$word
    UserDomain = corpmaster
    ReplicaOrNewDomain = Domain
    TreeOrChild = Child
    ParentDomainDNSName = northamerica.myco.com
    ChildName = region1.northamerica.myco.com
    DomainNetbiosName = REGION1
    AutoConfigDNS = No
NOTE: For a complete list of parameters, see the Windows 2000 Guide to Unattended Setup in the Deploy.cab file on the Windows 2000 CD.

The System Preparation (Sysprep) is a tool that prepares a master computer for duplication or cloning. Sysprep creates a unique SID for each cloned client, thereby making this process secure. Sysprep detects Plug and Play devices, and adjusts for systems with different devices. Sysprep runs a Mini-Setup Wizard to solicit user-specific information, such as user name or time-zone selection. Administrators can optionally use an answer file, Sysprep.inf, to provide these answers, making for a fully automated installation. Sysprep performs the preparation of the system image; a cloning utility from a third-party, such as Norton Ghost from Symantec or PowerQuest DriveImage, is required to perform the image-copying phase.
Sysprep is especially useful for deployments in large organizations when hundreds of computers need the same applications and desktop configurations. Use Sysprep if you have numerous computers on which to perform new installations, for example when deploying new machines. Use Sysprep if the computers in your organization have only a few standard hardware configurations, rather than many customized configurations (an unattended installation, for example, may be more appropriate for these).
Sysprep greatly reduces deployment time because nearly every component, including the operating system, applications and desktop settings, can be configured without any user interaction. The master image can be copied to a hard disk or CD-ROM and physically distributed to clients, saving the time and network capacity required to load files across the network. Deploying Windows 2000 to numerous desktops in a large organization with Sysprep provides an opportunity to implement “best management practices,” such as standardized desktops, administrative policies and restrictions. Finally, by saving time and resources in the deployment of Windows 2000, Sysprep is extremely helpful in lowering operating system TCO.
For More Information
For the latest information on Windows 2000, check out our Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/windows2000 and the Windows 2000/Windows NT Forum at http://computingcentral.msn.com/topics/windowsnt.

Frequently Asked Questions
Q:      If I have a variety of Plug and Play devices that are available, do I have to create separate distribution folders or images for them?
A:      No, you can place all the drivers for the Plug and Play devices for all computers on which the same operating system is being installed in the same location. For more information, see the “Preinstalling Plug and Play Devices” section of this paper.

Q:      I try to use a Sysprep.inf answer file on a floppy disk. Why doesn’t Mini-Setup find it?
A:      For Intel-based computers where the floppy disk boots before the hard disk, the disk must be inserted before the Mini-Setup Wizard starts.

Q:      When do I use the /nosidgen switch?
A:      Use /nosidgen for situations in which you want the Mini-Setup Wizard to run, but you do not want the SID to be regenerated—for example, if Setup and an answer file were used to install Windows 2000 on a computer and you want to run the Mini-Setup Wizard to join the workstation to a domain.

Q:       I created an image that included applications, but when the user logs on they don’t see them.
A:      When building your master computer and installing applications, verify that user-specific data is written to the default user registry. An easy way to verify this is to explore the Documents and Settings directory, under Default User. Also verify that the applications you install are available for all users, either by using profile-aware applications, or by installing to a user identifier and then making the profile available to all users. For more information, see the “Recommended Practices” section of the paper.

Q:      When the Mini-Setup Wizard prompts the user to enter the computer name, I don’t want them to change the password. How do I do that?
A:      Specify the Administrator password in Sysprep.inf. This way, when the user is prompted for the computer name, the Administrator password automatically appears in the correct box and cannot be changed.

Q:      After I run Sysprep on a computer, the Show icon in taskbar when connected option doesn’t appear on the task bar, but it is selected as an option in the master computer connection properties. Why doesn’t it work?
A:      Network settings need to be reset on the destination computer, and as a result this option is reset to its default. This is a known limitation of Sysprep for LAN connections. This does not affect remote access connections.

Q:      Will Disk Quotas be preserved after running Sysprep?
A:      Disk Quotas will be preserved for Domain Users. Disk Quotas will not be preserved for local user accounts.

Q.      I want to run a command at the end of Mini-Setup. How do I do that?
A.      Specify a Cmdlines.txt file to run at the end of Mini-Setup using this procedure:
1.      Create a Sysprep.inf file to be used by Sysprep. Note that this step is a requirement and cannot by bypassed. Also, the Sysprep.inf file must be named Sysprep.inf and must be located in a folder named Sysprep off of the root of the volume that contains the %SystemRoot% folder.
2.      Place the following entry in the Unattended section of the Sysprep.inf file: InstallFilesPath = drive:\path, where path is any folder you want to use. It is best to have drive be the volume containing the %SystemRoot% folder.
3.      Create the drive:\path folder. You can use any folder name you want, but it must match the location you specified in the Sysprep.inf file.
4.      In the drive:\path folder, create a folder named $OEM$. Place your Cmdlines.txt file in this folder.

Q.      Can I convert my file system to NTFS using Sysprep.exe?
A.      No. You need to convert your file system before running Sysprep—use the Convert.exe tool provided on the Windows 2000 CD.
Appendix A: Schematic Diagram of the Disk Duplication Process

Appendix B: Parameters in Unattend.txt Supported in Sysprep.inf
The answer file used with the System Preparation tool is named Sysprep.inf. It uses the same syntax and key names as the Windows 2000 Professional Setup answer file, Unattend.txt. Unattend.doc in the Windows 2000 Resource Kit provides additional information about using an answer file. The following are the sections and keys of the answer file that are supported:
      ExtendOemPartition      Only valid on Windows NT file system (NTFS) partitions. Used to extend the partition on which Windows 2000 is being installed; causes Setup to extend this destination partition into any available unpartitioned space that physically follows it on the disk.
      InstallFilesPath      Only valid for Sysprep.inf. Specifies the location of files that may be necessary for installation during Mini-Setup, such as the language files, so that the installation isn’t interrupted to prompt for user input.
      KeepPageFile      Only valid for Sysprep.inf. When Sysprep is run, the Mini-Setup Wizard automatically regenerates the system’s pagefile to accommodate differences in the amount of RAM between the master and destination computers.
      OemPnPDriversPath      Specifies the path to folders that contain Plug and Play (PnP) drivers that do not ship on the Windows 2000 CD. The folders must contain all the files necessary to install the particular devices—catalog files, INF files, and drivers.
      OemSkipEula      Determines whether the user should be prompted to accept the Microsoft License Agreement (previously known as the End User License Agreement or EULA) included with Windows 2000. Writing this key and setting it to Yes imply that the person performing the installation has read and agreed to the contents of the License Agreement included with the product. It also implies that the end user on whose behalf Windows 2000 is being installed has agreed to the License Agreement.
      UpdateHAL      Only valid for Sysprep.inf. Required if the administrator is using compatible hardware abstraction layers (HALs) that are based on an Asynchronous Processor Interrupt Controller (APIC) uni-processor (UP) master computer image that is to be placed on a compatible multi-processor (MP) destination computer.
      UpdateUPHAL      Only valid for Sysprep.inf. Required if the administrator is using compatible HALs that are based on an APIC MP master computer image that is to be placed on compatible APIC UP or MP destination computers.
[Oem_Ads]      All keys are supported.
      AdminPassword      Sets up the Administrator account password. This is only valid if the administrator password on the master computer was blank.
      AutoLogon      Sets up the computer to automatically log on once with the Administrator account if set to Yes. This key is not valid on upgrades.
      AutoLogonAccountCreation      Specifies whether a computer account should be created automatically for the user whose name is specified by FullName. AutoLogonAccountCreation also allows the generated user account to automatically logon to the computer.
      AutoLogonCount      Specifies the number of times that the computer automatically logs on using the Administrator account and password specified. The value decrements after each logon and the feature is disabled after the specified number of logon attempts.
      OemDuplicatorString      Only valid for Sysprep.inf. This string contains a description of the duplication utility used, as well as any other information an OEM or administrator wants to store in the registry. The value is stored in the HKLM\System\Setup\OemDuplicatorString registry key.
      OemSkipRegional      Allows unattended Setup to skip the Regional Options page in GUI-mode Setup and Mini-Setup.
      OemSkipWelcome      Allows unattended Setup to skip displaying the Welcome page in GUI-mode Setup and Mini-Setup.
      TimeZone      Specifies the time zone where the computer is located. If the key is not present, the user is prompted to select a time zone.
[UserData]      All keys are supported.
[LicenseFilePrintData]      All keys are supported.
[GuiRunOnce]      All keys are supported.
[Display]      All keys are supported.
[RegionalSettings]      All keys are supported, provided the files are available on the hard disk.
[TapiLocation]      All keys are supported. The values are only valid if a modem is present on the computer.
[Networking]      No keys are required.
[Identification]      All keys are supported.
[NetClients]      All keys are supported.


I don't remember the link to these kb articles but they are both courtesy of Microsoft.

Good luck.
Fatal_ExceptionSystems Engineer
Top Expert 2005

And I thought that my post was long..  :)

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