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Ghost hardware independent image

Our company recently purchased symantec ghost solution suite 2.5 for imaging and I have been assigned the task of creating a universal/hardware independent image for all desktops/laptops. I dunno if its just me but nowhere can I find instructions on how to simply "just make" a universal image that I can then use with ghostcast to deploy out. The most I can come up with is injecting drivers to a machine that has already been added to the ghost console using a "deploy anywhere" task. But that does me no good because the machine has to already be on the network for that to work. Any tips, links, pointers  or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated, thanks.
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JordyBoy100
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JordyBoy100
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MYCUCommented:
If you need to create an image that will be deployed across computers with possibly different hardware types, I would suggest using sysprep. Here is a site that has a video of how to set up sysprep for ghosting.

http://www.vernalex.com/guides/sysprep/index.shtml

Hope this helps!
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SniperSheepCommented:
You might want to look into Universal Imaging Utility, an automatic driver management program that ties in with ghost. That should allow you to use single image on multiple diverse hardware platforms.

http://www.binaryresearch.net/products/the_universal_imaging_utility

Be aware that these folks are persistant salesmen and will hound you for quite some time if you decide not to buy their product.
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SniperSheepCommented:
Also, you might want to check out this guide:
http://adminbromo.blogspot.com/2006/10/universal-ghost-image-guide.html
It's pretty elaborate, but it'll give you a good jump-off point.
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LoxiasCommented:
You're going to be hard pressed to create something like this using just Ghost.  You didn't mention what OS your company runs, but if it's XP good luck.  Machines shipping with Intel's newest chipsets use AHCI to talk to the HDD.  Older machines use IDE emulation.  This will be a major source of contention.  You'll need at least two images due to this since AHCI is not natively supported in XP (you'll need to use Intel's drivers) and the older machines won't be using it anyway.

Your next problem will be your HAL.  While there are hacks to 'trick' XP to look at all computers as an ACPI machines, they tend to be hard to get to work.  My suggestion is to look at grouping your computers by processor families and try to narrow images down to include those machines.  You probably won't get down to one image, but you can certainly reduce it some.

No matter how it works out, you'll definitely want to Sysprep the machines.  Sysprep will remove machine specific identifiers for the image and will also allow setup to re-detect for devices and drivers.  Also, take a look at nLite to help with slipstreaming drivers into your windows installation media.

Final suggestion...start small.  Create a couple of images for similar machines and test.  Once the images work well, try to start combining them.  But if you truly want one image to rule them all, you're going to need to supplement Ghost with other utilities and be prepared to put in LOTS of time. :)
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JordyBoy100Author Commented:
Great suggestions and advice everyone, I defiantly have a better grasp on how this whole universal imaging thing works.  I do want to point out that our company is not interested in putting any more $$ into this so UIU will not be an option unfortuneatly. SniperSheep you had some great links there that I will probably use as my solution, however I am still curious/confused as to how Symantec claims to have the "hardware independent" imaging if it apparently doesn't work? I mean its their first key benefit listed on their website. I would just like to know if anyone has used Symantec's hardware independent imaging and if so how to even use it efficiently.
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LoxiasCommented:
Thanks ModernMatt!

Now on to our regularly scheduled programming...

You haven't listed what OSes you're running so this generalization may not apply properly but here goes...

Microsoft worked on Vista to allow a more seamless 'universal' image process.  While I haven't looked this up in a while, iirc the built in deployment tools for Vista support a universal configuration.

XP on the other hand is severely limited by HAL type.  If you have older machines or disparate machine/processor types it's hard to get a common HAL across the systems.  You'll find more success with ACPI Uniprocessor and ACPI Multiprocessor systems.  You can pretty much load these HALs vice versa but Microsoft recommends loading the Uniprocessor because XP setup will detect and load the Multiprocessor automatically.  Check out this link (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309283) for more info on this.

I brought that up because the Ghost Solution Suite specifically mentions Vista on it's front page.  Of course if you have mostly new machines with Vista running then this is probably all moot. :D  In that case, Deploy Anywhere should work fairly well for you.  Here's a link to using it with a boot cd (http://service1.symantec.com/SUPPORT/on-technology.nsf/docid/2008050913544860)

One last thing.  Here's a site (http://blog.hishamrana.com/2006/02/22/how-to-image-windows-xp-with-ghost-and-sysprep/) I found while researching the Deploy Anywhere (we use an older version of Ghost so no DA).  This is a good breakdown of the process but you'll find he's come to the same conclusion that I have... multiple HALs on XP just don't seem to work right.
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MYCUCommented:
The website I posted earlier shows an excellent video of how to set up sysprep on a master computer.

As far as the HAL's are concerned, you will want to set you master image with what is considered the generic HAL and that is ACPI PC. There is a tool out there called HalU2.0 found here (http://www.ef2006.nl/HALu.zip) that will allow you to change your HAL without the worry of hacving to reinstall the system.

Once Sysprep has been configured and the image has been created, you can deploy the image onto other machines. Then just run HALu and change the HAL.
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