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RIS - Remote Installation Services configuration OSC/SIF file trail

Hey experts
I'm being thrown into the RIS environment with no RIS experience.
We've already got RIS server set up and existing images available.. but here's the issue. The people who used to do the scripting for RIS left. So it's up to me to take responsibility. I understand the basic concepts of RIS however, I need to fully understand the "file trail" that RIS goes thru. I need to be able go into the source to configure it. I need to be able to create new images and configure the set up menu.

From what I understand, you boot a machine and hit F12 and the BIOS initiates a PXE boot and then you magically get the blue installation screen with all the options. My question is not creating the image itself, but modifying the RIS interface. I need to know what file gets accessed first and how the "variables" are getting accessed and called from. I want to eventually edit the OSC and SIF files, but first I need to understand when it's being called and how it's being used.

Can someone take a look at this...
This is what I figure for how the OSC files is called...
welcome->login->choice-> osauto or custom or restart ->(suppose we pick custom)-> oscust->x8664->oschoice->warning->install->reboot

What I am guessing is that the oschooser.exe is called first and runs the OSC files and somewhere along the line the SIF files and STARTROM.COM is called.. But when is this being accessed/called? Or I am completely wrong about this?

Also.. how are the variables defined ( %MACHINENAME%, %MACHINETYPE%, etc)? Is this from the SIF file and how does it grab it? Or is it dependent on how you structure the REMINST folder?

For instance... in OSCHOICE.OSC we have something like:

<OSCML>
<META KEY=F3 ACTION="REBOOT">
<META KEY=ESC HREF="CHOICE">
<META SERVER ACTION="ENUM IMAGES">
<TITLE>  Client Installation Wizard                                        OS Choices</TITLE>
<FOOTER>  [ENTER] continue            [ESC] go back             [F3] restart computer</FOOTER>
<BODY left=5 right=75>
<BR>
<BR>
Use the arrow keys to select one of the following operating systems:
<P left=8>
<FORM ACTION="WARNING">
<SELECT NAME="SIF" SIZE=12>
%OPTIONS%          <------------------- where is this from?
</SELECT>
</FORM>
</P>
<BOLD>Description:</BOLD>&nbsp&nbsp
<TIPAREA>
</BODY>
</OSCML>

Where is it getting the OPTIONS from???
Can someone please clarify this for me?
0
ThinkPaper
Asked:
ThinkPaper
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1 Solution
 
sow56091Commented:
I used RIS once for a testing environment of over 400 laptops. It was a NIGHTMARE--and, sorry, I'm not trying to discourage your efforts here, but my experience was very negative. What you might consider doing, after receiving input from other experts to resolve SIF formatting confusing, is migrating away from RIS and move toward Ghost or Acronis True Image (when I used RIS, there was a way to deploy Ghost images via RIS but was not broadly accepted so Ghost and others created their own RIS-like installation methods), where you could deploy images in a much simpler way (with better worldwide support, since RIS was not very well supported / deployed and has even been replaced by Windows Deployment Services in 2003 / Vista), not only for yourself but for your end-users. If budget concerns are an issue, then you might lobby for a test group and get user buy-in. Why RIS, by the way? Why not DeepFreeze from Faronics?
0
 
gvlobCommented:
Sorry for your bad experiences with RIS, but my experience is the exact opposite. You can find some good information on RIS at the following two sites:

http://www.microsoft.com/technet/prodtechnol/windows2000serv/deploy/depopt/remoteos.mspx
or
http://labmice.techtarget.com/windows2000/install/RIS.htm

The labmice link has multiple resources for RIS.

Some variables come from the osc files, some come from the Remote-Installation properties pages, and some come from the sif file. The selection of images comes from the Image tab of the RI properties page. If I remember correctly, that's the %options% variable (it's been a while). The variables that come from the sif file are only used during the installation process, so I don't think they are available during the oschoice stage.

I hope this helps a little.
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ThinkPaperAuthor Commented:
Thanks. it does help. I wanted to basically figure out how it worked without having to run the RIS install. I don't have a "test machine" to play with.. and I'm hesitant to run/test any RIS programs on my machine since it's my desktop machine and it's connected to the network. They're supposed to set up a test machine for me, but who knows how long it takes for them to get around to it.. =/
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gvlobCommented:
It would be much easier to test using a virtual server with MS Virtual Server or VMWare. You can find more info on this here:

Mircosoft:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserversystem/virtualserver/default.mspx

VMWare:
http://www.vmware.com/products/server/
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ThinkPaperAuthor Commented:
FYI For anyone who wanted to know about the OSCHOICE.OSC:

The %OPTIONS% are being called from any SIF file you have in your REMINST\Setup\English\Images\ folder. The SIF file has a [OSChooser] Section which specifies the titles, which are then listed in the OSCHOICE page. This way you can have different OS installs to choose from when you run a new RIS.

So for example suppose you have 2 SIF files:

Inside winXPpro.SIF file:
[OSChooser]
Description ="Windows XP Pro"

Inside win2003server.SIF
[OSChooser]
Description ="Windows 2003 Server Baseline Install"

So in the OSCHOICE file:

<OSCML>
<META KEY=F3 ACTION="REBOOT">
<META KEY=ESC HREF="CHOICE">
<META SERVER ACTION="ENUM IMAGES">
<TITLE>  Client Installation Wizard                                        OS Choices</TITLE>
<FOOTER>  [ENTER] continue            [ESC] go back             [F3] restart computer</FOOTER>
<BODY left=5 right=75>
<BR>
<BR>
Use the arrow keys to select one of the following operating systems:
<P left=8>
<FORM ACTION="WARNING">
<SELECT NAME="SIF" SIZE=12>
%OPTIONS%  now show:  
-----------------------------
Windows XP Pro
Windows 2003 Server Baseline Install
-----------------------------
</SELECT>
</FORM>
</P>
<BOLD>Description:</BOLD>&nbsp&nbsp
<TIPAREA>
</BODY>
</OSCML>
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gvlobCommented:
Thanks for posting your findings! I'm sure this will help someone.
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