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Mixed-system deployment suggestions


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I'm looking for suggestions on how to speed the deployment of systems in an environment where there are all different kinds of systems. AMD systems, Intel systems, new systems, old systems.

We're using Windows XP Pro on the systems. I've used Microsoft's "Sysprep" tool to prepare a system for imaging. I've even tried without using Sysprep.

What happens is that we can make a Ghost image that works on identical systems (chipset, etc). If the image is taken to any other machine, even those that would appear to be identical, the system will not boot. Even in safe mode, they appear to stop on MUP.sys, whatever that is.

If I do a repair install of Windows, it removes all the Windows Updates, meaning you have to apply those all over again, defeating the purpose of imaging.

Is there some kind of fail-safe way to image them, even safer than safe mode? As it stands, it can take 8 hours to get a system ready to deploy. Argh!

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If never liked software imaging solutions. If I have a large number of computers that I need to get running all with the same software (OS and APPs) then use a hard drive cloner.

Then all that is required is a small script that will change hostname and a number of other things to make the system individual.

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If you have a large number of computers with a wide varaity of hardware, what I surgest you so is the following:

Create a unatended install CD (as you do) then on the computer you are going to create the image on only run the first stage of the setup. Meaning just run windows setup right up to the first restart, then when it tries to restart insted of letting windows continue the instalation, simply make a image of the hard drive. Then just push that image on to all the computers.

This obviusly means that you do have to wait for the instalation to finish, but since it#s a unatended install, it shouldn't matter. This method (usualy) garentees maximum hardware compatability.

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I usually use Symantec Ghost on my networks for imaging.

Although it's a pain to do, if I've got more than one type of hardware on a network: I make a master image for the most common hardware configuration (installing all needed software etc) and then ghost down from the server to one of each type of hardware configuration, preform a windows system repair on each one, and then ghost up to the server from each one.

So what I end up with is an image for each type of hardware configuration on the network.

This is fine if you've got a max of 3 or 4 different hardware configurations, and your image isn't massive, but if you've got loads of different hardware configs, and very big images... This could cause you problems.

Updates aren't too bad when you've got WSUS running on your server, either.

If you don't have much software to install, look into doing unattended installs with RIS :)

Come to think of it... You could do a modification on Sparda's method using the windows repair... Take your master image, with all the software etc that you want on it, and use a windows cd with all the updates integrated into it (using n-lite or something similar), and set up to be automated etc, and do the first part of a windows reapair. Then when it does it's first re-start, boot it into ghost and upload the hdd image to the server.

You can then ghost down to all your machines and let them do the unattended install. When they're done, just re-name them and you're on your way!

While this is ok... You WILL need a copy of the windows cd for every machine. Which just isn't practical if you have lots of machines :(

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That means I have to do research... such as how to make an unatended install CD. While I know it's posible, but I'v never looked in to doing it my self. Then of course there is the problem of creating the image. There are tens if not hundrads of diffrent ways of creating a image of the hard drive.

A quick Google returns: http://www.hytekcomputer.com/Articles/XPInstall/1.shtml

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Is there a way to strip Windows dependence on particular hardware? One thought that crossed my mind was to get everything installed and patched and then delete as many entries as possible from Device Manager. That would force a re-detect upon restart. But the basic files that get Windows going are still customized to that computer, such as the flavor of the chipset and IDE controller.

I was actually expecting Windows to complain about a bad NTLDR. Instead it freezes on MUP.sys, so I'll also investigate what that is. Maybe it's something small and Windows can continue.

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My workaround so far is to use the Image that I made, then repair and redownload the Windows Updates. This saves the time of installing Office 2000, InfoPath 2003, misc junk applets and all their updates. :P

As I mentioned earlier, that's what I do :)

I'm always working on a way to make a universal image though.

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Here we re-image laptops, not pc's.

We currently use Symantec Ghost 8.1 which serves it's purpose just OK. I've setup sysprep to reset certain parameters, load a batch script at first login, etc. It's works fine since the systems are similar enough.

The problem really begins when you have a different HAL. Windows gets confused, even when you say to find all new hardware. In theory you should be able to image it then do a system repair option in xp boot.

The best way in my opinion is to use Acronis True Image, http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/products/ . It has a really nice plugin called Universal Restore, http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/products...al-restore.html , which allows you to image onto almost any hardware. A real life saver.

Acronis True Image Enterprise 9.1 is $1,000 US. Universal restore is $300 US. For servers only.

Acronis True Image Workstation 9.1 is $80 plus Universal Restore of $30. For Workstations Only.

This in conjunction with Autopatcher, http://www.autopatcher.com/ , and Sysprep.

If you want I can share our Sysprep INI file in PM.

I would also check out these places... (all places I go and apps I use)








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