Deploy Windows installation to many machines

Posted on 2011-05-03
Last Modified: 2012-05-11

I need to deploy a Windows Vista Enterprise installation to five machines, currently my machine is a virtual machine in VMWare Workstation and I need to deploy to five machines in hosts or other virtual machines.

I was used the sysprep -generalize but whe two machines are in network at same time the Active Directory blocks the second one to start up.

How can I deploy these five machines.

Question by:jbernier_aio
    LVL 6

    Accepted Solution

    You shouldn't have run sysprep while it was on the domain.  Sysprep and then take the image.  Once the image is deployed the machine can then be joined to the domain.

    Technically it is possible to sysprep a domain joined machine, but Microsoft does not support this probably for the same reason you are running in to a problem with it.

    According to Microsoft you should be using WAIK (Windows Automated Installation Kit) tools to do this if you only have 5 machines.  Personally I prefer a more automated solution like MDT (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit), but I already have MDT setup in my environment.  Probably not worth the time to setup MDT and learn for just 5 machines in your case.  So here's my recommendation for you:

    Start up a VM with that image, take it off the domain, and redo sysprep from a command line:
    c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /shutdown

    Download and install WAIK to a technician computer from

    Once you install WAIK it will have a folder for it in your start menu.  Look for the documenation folder and open the file "Step-by-Step - Basic Windows Deployment for IT Pros".  Skip to Step 3: Creating Bootable Windows PE Media.  Follow the instructions from there to boot up the reference VM in WinPE and capture an image of it with imagex /capture to a network share.  Then on each of the 5 VMs boot them using your WinPE media. run diskpart,  and deploy that image from the network share with imagex /apply.  Then use Bcdboot to copy the boot files to your windows directory of the image.  That Step-by-Step document will detail the process.
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    If you have already deployed your image to all the other VMs you might be able to just disable their network interfaces, boot them up, remove them from the domain, and sysprep each of them.  Then enable the network interfaces,  boot them up, and rejoin to the domain for each one.

    Keep in mind either method is flawed because you will end up with an image that will probably work, but because you initially joined it to the domain before sysprep then you may have group policy that was applied to that initial image.

    Ideally you should rebuild the image and this time sysprep it before you join the reference image to the domain.
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    I mispoke in that last sentence.  What I should have said was:

    Ideally you should rebuild the image and this time sysprep it before you deploy the image to the other VMs and THEN join the domain.

    Author Comment

    Thanks, but no one method works

    I was recovered the original machine, join out from domain and run sysprep sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /shutdown and next deploy my five virtual machines with VMWare tools.

    The machines start and reconfigure again asking for host name, user name and next join in to domain and creates machines in domain, but problems begin with share folder, share files and printers. Its impossible add printer, when can access share folder and open files its impossible to save them.

    Thanks for any additional help.
    LVL 6

    Expert Comment

    The only other thing you could do from an imaging standpoint is rebuild the image, sysprep it, and copy the image to the VMs.

    With that said, I'm kind of surprised it didn't work.  You may have something else going on.  Did you have the reference machine fully configured in production before you started this process?  I'm inclinded not to trust that reference image.  Microsoft recommends reference images get built fully automated partly for this reason.  In other words the OS gets installed with an unattend.xml, applications installed, Windows updates installed, and sysprep completed all automated and hands off.  This ensures consistency in the image and takes out the element of human error as much as possible.  MDT would allow you to automate the reference image build.

    If you don't have experience with MDT then you should probably redo the reference image manually.

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