Guide for creating XP Lab?

Russianblue used Ask the Experts™
I am creating 3 Virtual Windows XP machines for 3 developers who will be building a custom SQL db for us.   They need the machines to have Office 2007 installed so they can test the db with Access and other software.  

What i need to do is create a Virtual XP machine with all the relevant software and updates then clone it.  FWIW, I deployed a sysprep image last year for about 10 OEM Dell machines purchased simultaneously.  that seemed to work pretty well but there were a few hangups with user profiles etc.  again, i am wondering if there isn't an easier way to clone when you are working with Virtual PCs other than the obvious lack of need to use imaging software. I have only ever built one VPC at a time....including our BES Server 2003 that is currently running on our SBS 2008 with the Hyper-V role installed.

I'd love to see a walk through guide of some sort on creating the base image and sysprepping it etc.  if you can point me in the direction of a sysprep/virtual lab prep resource, i would greatly appreciate it.  FWIW, i am a member of Technet so if there is something Technet specific you know of, i can access it.
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For Hyper-V
XPSP3 ISO Download
NLITE (Slipstreaming a windows xp image with service packs, patches, drivers etc)

Now, If you are using Hyper-V on Windows 2008 or Windows 2008 R2 or SBS 2008 Hyper-V :
Tool to quickly create a vhd disk of any size :
a) Creat a VHD of your desired size via the tool QuickVhd (creates any size vhd in seconds)
b) Open Up Hyper-V Manager, create a virtual machine, attach the vhd you have created as the system disk
c) Rigth Click on your Newly created virtual machine (under Hyper-V) Manager, and select settings
d) attach the iso on the cd to boot from (XPSP3 slipstreamed or xpsp3 if you have downloaded already)
e) Install XPSP3, Once the install is completed, add Hyper-V Integration services which will give you network card etc
f) Apply any windows updates you wish to, install applications - then sysprep and shutdown
g)Once the VM is shutdown, copy the vhd over to any other storage / directory and then you can create as many xp vm's you like

This is if you are using Hyper-V.
I have done the same process with xp, windows 2003 server, 2008


i guess i need some elaboration on the end of parts F and G.  specifically, the sysprep part.

i have used nLite for a long time.  great program. i actually used AutoPatcher today.  Looks like it's back up and running.  however, i think i like nLite better.  either way, getting the windows machine configured is always time consuming.

so this base machine which is already created and up and running on SBS 2008 with Hyper V role installed along with Integration Services...i am logged in as tempuser.  

i have installed office 2007 and am configuring my 'perfect' user profile.  i will be joining these machines to a domain....likely the production domain, in an OU outside of the production desktops.

so, when i get this machine config'd, i want to be able to copy the VHD and join each VPC to the domain individually and have all of the user profile settings from the default image carry into the domain user profile.  i think the way to do that is to copy my tempUser1 profile to the "Default User" profile.  But this is where i am a little fuzzy.  last time i did this, every machine had a folder called tempUser1 and the profile folders did not take on the names of the new users.  it had something to do with the connect network wizard in SBS 03 and the way they let you assume a preconfigured profile. i have yet to join a new machine to the new SBS08 server so i am unsure of that ability is still there.

The thing to remember is that the VHD is, at the host computer's level, simply a single file. So you can copy it just like you would, say, a Word document. It will automatically be exactly identical on the new system to what it was on the old--all the internal system settings are within the VHD file, so there will be no difference between them. One minor complication of this is that they're all going to have the same computer name; you'll need to change that when you first start the virtual machine on a new computer, or the multiple VMs won't be able to be on the network at the same time. But the profiles within each VM will be exactly identical if you're copying all the VMs from a single installation VHD.
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i understand the VHD concept, portability etc.

i've already got a production BES that's virtual and i have been playing with VM's for a long time.

what i am trying to do is do the configuration ONCE.  then, by some automated means, avoid exactly the problems you bring up with conflicting computer names, etc, of which i am well aware and is at the core of my first question....which is why i made  the comment i did in the first sentence of my second post.

I think i've got this question in the wrong spot really.  it is really more of a deployment question.
OK, sorry, that's outside my area of expertise.
Sorry have been busy :

When you sysprep and restart the virtual machine of xp, it will release the sid
So basically you want to deploy the base image to your virtual environment, join them to a domain automatically ;

To create a base user profile :

SysPrep :

Sysprep -reseal the machines and you should be ok
If it is only 3 machines i would recommend the procedure I have mentioned in my reply above.
But what you can do is, you can build a windows deployment server (WDS) ; after creating your profile, office 2007, updates, sysprep and reboot the vm and press F-12 to contact the wds server and capture the install image that way. Once your captured image is successfully uploaded to your WDS ; you can then create an answer file for your specific requirements.
Now, you would have to use wds in legacy mode :
I haven't deployed xp via wds but the links above will guide you ; once you are all set up on wds and xp deployment you can customize the deployment via answer file, (for user profile, domain join etc)


i don't have time to go thru and rate the quality of your answer, but that appears to be exactly what i am looking for, and i don't like for these questions to string out.  thanks!

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