Best methods for image delivery : Ghosting about 80 PC's

Hello All,

I will soon be in charge of the task to ghost about 80 new users desktops.  I have been charged with trying to estimate about how long this will take and what is the best method for deploying the images to the computers.

Can anyone lend some help by telling about  what they know, experiance, etc.  Thanks!
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I don't do this myself, but I have heard people use Sysprep to manage this task.
If you are deploying Windows - Check into RIS (Remote Installation Services)  - This is a microsoft service that will run on a win2k or 2k3 server - You can network boot your client PC's, create an image, and then deploy that image very easily. We've tried everything from hard drive copying to ghost and powerquest images - this is by far the most convenient method.

read more here:
saidweintraubAuthor Commented:
All machines will be indentical and will be using Windows XP, and getting certain applications such as adobe reader, etc.

So i do not think this is a  job for RIS as I am pretty much looking to make 1 master, image it and deploy that image to all the other machines.
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That is a PERFECT job for RIS. MAke one XP image the way you like it - send it back up to the RIS server, then go out and network boot your client boxes. Install the image and done. They will even be named properly in your active directory, instead of for example, ghost - where all the machines will have the same name and you'd have to go change each one manually.
The Problem with Norton Ghost is you will need the Enterprise version and all the computers that will have the new image will have the same SID. You will have to change the SID on the cloned computers.
by syspreping a drive before you ghost the image you ensure that the new clones will have different SIDs... and different names.

I say use ghost.  I do it all the time with 50 network machines here.  Only problem with this is that each computer would need a bootup disk and that means creating 80 boot-up disks.  You could also create a boot-up image and use PXE to boot each machine.  Ghost also allows you to download and install the image from a commandline, so that the autoexec.bat can begin the installation without any user-intervention.

sysprep requires you to run setup manager to create sysprep.inf files to fully automate the installation, and you can create Uniqueness Databases to specify computer names if you do not want them to be random.  This can be a process in itself.

it may take you awhile to fully tweak an image... then it may take you awhile to create the right sysprep.inf... then it may take you awhile to configure the right PXE bootup, etc....

I would also recommend that you refrain from installing anything that can be installed with an .MSI file.  it will go much quicker and smoother if you keep the image barebones, and handle software installation through group policy.  Office is great to install through group policy and isn't on my Ghost Image.  But guess what?  you have to configure setup files so that you can install it through group policy with no user intervention possible.

Basically, to do it right and save you time in the future, you will proboably have to spend 1 week with just 1 computer and some software getting everything ready.  Then depending on your image size, I would recommend reserving 1-2 days for the deployment and final testing.  The downloading of the image and the mini-wizard on reboot.. depends on your collision domain and your network bandwidth, but shouldn't take more than an hour or so.  When i do 3-4 machines at a time it takes about 15 minutes for a 2GB partition.

If this is your first time and you are not familiar with PXE, RIS, Ghost, Sysprep, MSI, Group Policy, etc... then I really couldn't tell you how long it will take to do all this, but as someone who is somewhat familiar with the process, I would tell my boss about a week just to be on the safe side.  This includes creating automation files, testing, patching, syspreping, deployment, creating GPOs, UDBs, configuring of remote booting, etc...  You may need more.

This is a great way to create an image and deploy it.  It will make hardware failure and new computers a snap, not to mention upgrades and services packs if you go the GPO route for software.

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saidweintraubAuthor Commented:
Great thanks so much for the info.  I myself am very excited to get started on this massive project.
saidweintraubAuthor Commented:
Can I do it by just having a switch or hub connecting all the computers to the ghost server?
saidweintraubAuthor Commented:
Do I need to use a corporate edition of Ghost for this or can I use something like Norton ghost 2002?

Also if I do need to use the corporate ediition how does the licensing work for it, how can i determine how many licenses I will need.

You will have to get the corporate edition.
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