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Need advice with imaging Dell laptops

Posted on 2008-10-07
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I just started with a company the uses Dell laptops and I have been tasked with making the deployment easier with imaging.  Currently the take the Dells out of the box and customize them for the network and load all the software needed.  

I need to be able to have a software that would allow me to roll out different images based on mulptiple software profiles for various departments.

I have 2 standard types of laptops and 2 standard types of desktops so I will be dealing with a few different hardware profiles.

I am not really sure how to handle imaging with Dell's that are already preloaded with XP with the XP key already loaded.  Any advice on the best practice with this?

Thanks!
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Question by:trsman
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Expert Comment

by:JSoup
ID: 22659554
The Best image software is Acronis True Image.  http://www.acronis.com/
Since you only have two hardware plateform  and two version of these. you could use the Home version over the workstation version.  you wont heed to recover from a  bare mettal (diferant motherboard change).
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79.99
 
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by:amac81
ID: 22660079
If you use Sysprep in the sysprep.inf file that you have to create you can specify for the installation to prompt the end user (or technician) for the license key.  That way you can use each laptop/desktop's XP key that is on the case already.  Windows Deployment Services is awesome.  Works great and is free.

One thing to keep in mind about Dell equipment is that they utilize a small partition at the beginning of the disk (40 megs or so) that is used as a diagnostic partition.  If you're not careful once you re-image the computers you'll end up needing to fix the MBR to point to the correct partition for the OS.  You can always just delete it if you're relying on in-house technical staff.
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by:trsman
ID: 22661355
I was looking at Acronis Snap deploy 3.0.  What are your thoughts with that?  If I image a Dell notebook and want to load it on a new laptop what happenes with the windows activation key?
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veedar earned 1000 total points
ID: 22694226
If you use sysprep you will be asked to enter a key. For a good free ghost like cloning tool check out
http://clonezilla.org/
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by:amac81
ID: 22694240
Not necessarily.  You can program a volume key in the sysprep.inf.  If you dont have one of those but have just a few machines that you're wanting to use the keys that are on the laptop's then you can set the sysprep.inf to ask for the key.  It really is simple.  I have the key set in my sysprep.inf and have yet to have it ask me for the key on any installation except those that we specifically set to ask.
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by:trsman
ID: 22713122
Acronis is telling me that for True Image it would be $49.00 per machine that i image.  That is alot.
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by:JSoup
ID: 22713224
http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/holidays/2006/
Two copies for $69.99   Plus other sales
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by:amac81
amac81 earned 1000 total points
ID: 22713260
This really defeats the purpose of what trsman is attempting to accomplish.  The easiest method is SYSPREP.  It really is.  Before settling on sysprep we used Ghost.  What a nightmare.  Sysprep will automatically create new SID's, prompt you for the computer name should you so choose, allow you to set the admin password among many other things as well as fully automating the entire process if that's what you want.  I'd recommend giving it a look.
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Author Comment

by:trsman
ID: 22724403
Ok well I am now using Clonezilla to image the Dell Partition.  I discovered that Dell uses the same Microsoft Key for the 3 new Latitudes I have right now, so imaging is not an issue.  Once they boot up I use the Microsoft SID change app.  Now I just need to figure out how to deal with mulitple hardware platforms??
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