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Posts posted by baliktad

  1. You should not be copying files from the SoftwareDistribution folder from one machine to another. That's a totally hacky solution and will break if you are using a new operating system, service pack, language, or architecture. Instead, use the following method:

    1) Install the latest Windows Update Agent. For assistance downloading the most recent version, please refer to this Technet Article. Depending on your usage, you will probably want to automate the installation by adding the parameters "/quiet /norestart"

    2) Opt-in to Microsoft Update with this simple script (source: MSDN Article):

    Set ServiceManager = CreateObject("Microsoft.Update.ServiceManager")
    ServiceManager.ClientApplicationID = "My App"

    'add the Microsoft Update Service, GUID
    Set NewUpdateService = ServiceManager.AddService2("7971f918-a847-4430-9279-4a52d1efe18d",7,"")

    Just save that text as "muoptin.vbs" and then you can run cscript muoptin.vbs for an unattended setup.

  2. If you have a [Components] section in your winnt.sif you must specify the Media Center components in order for them to be installed. ...
    This statement is patently false. If you don't know what you're talking about, don't proclaim to be authoritative. Media Center will install just fine as long you have all MCE source files (need both disc 1 and disc 2, but these can be combined on one DVD or network install point) and a MCE key. There is no need to modify anything in the [Components] section of your unattend.txt/winnt.sif
    If you are doing a network install you must use the switch /makelocalsource:all.
    Well at least you got that part right.
  3. For some license types, Microsoft disallows internet activation completely. They publically admitted to doing this early last year. This affects you if you have an OEM machine and you're using the key from the sticker on the side of the box. You'll just have to call every time, as internet activation is simply not available. However, if you do have an OEM machine, use the oembios.* files and the SLP key your OEM used - this also disables activation on machines from that manufacturer.

    I also suspect, but cannot confirm, that Microsoft has the capability to flag suspect keys as "potentially shared" if you attempt to activate too many times via the internet. If you cross that threshold, they will only allow phone activations for that key - to prevent against those people who share retail keys amongst friends or multiple computers without realizing this is not allowed. Again, this is all speculation and I have no confirmed proof this is the case, but it's why I advocate method #1 below - only activate when absolutely necessary!

  4. There is no "magic" way to get out of activation. Here are the possible solutions:

    1. Only activate when absolutely necessary. Microsoft gives retail users a 30-day grace period after you install to use Windows and change all the hardware you want. No questions asked. Take advantage of it and use Windows until day 29 or 30. You'll probably want to suppress Windows Activation notices so you don't get pestered all the time. Note that this script does NOT get you out of activating! Your grace period still ends after 30 days - the script just ensures Windows won't annoy you in the meantime.

    2. Use Sysprep for images. This lets you install Windows XP once, make an image and store it as long as you want. When you restore the image to disk, your 30 day counter starts over. Useful for lots of hardware testing without the pain of reinstalling Windows. Note: this is also not a way to get around activation, Microsoft only lets Sysprep reset the activation counter 3 times.

    3. For longer periods of testing, consider getting an MSDN subscription. Prices are very reasonable considering all the software you get: $700 gets you perpetual (valid forever) licenses to every Microsoft operating system ever made, plus monthly updates for a year. Look for better deals on ebay, etc. MSDN OS licenses allow you 60 days before you must activate.

    4. If MSDN is too expensive and you only care about Windows XP, you can buy a volume licensed copy of Windows XP for under $200. Note it's an upgrade only, so you still need some other licensed copy of Windows to qualify for this price. This is a completely legitimate way to acquire a copy of Windows that will never require activation. (Note: Volume license agreements require purchases of 5 or more licenses to start, but not necessarily all Windows. Media and license fees charged by the reseller are not included.)

    5. Lastly, exercise your rights! If you do indeed honestly own a validly-licensed, genuine copy of Windows XP, you are entitled to activate as much as you want. Understand the license terms first though: Remember OEM copies of Windows are forever married to the box on which they're first installed or distributed with - no borrowing unused copies from work or swapping licenses amongst machines! Retail versions of Windows XP can be transferred to a new machine, but are only ever licensed for a single machine at a time, so be sure to uninstall or format if you're using on a new machine. As long as you are legit, Microsoft will activate you via internet or phone. You can also automate internet activation if you don't like clicking buttons. Again, this is not a way to get out of activation, just a way to simplify the process.

    That said, I have found through nearly 5 years of experience that those that complain about activation fall into 2 categories:

    1) Those who dislike it on a theoretical level. They may or may not own a copy of Windows, but they dislike the very idea of having to activate with Microsoft. Once they try it and see how simple it is, they're satisfied. Activation really is easy, and Microsoft has no problems activating you multiple times. The hardware changing algorithms are also very lenient. If all else fails, you can always call up the activation center (free call 24/7 from anywhere in the world) and explain your situation. They always activate validly licensed users.

    2) Those who do not actually own a validly licensed copy of Windows. This may be an intentional pirate (knowingly downloaded Windows illegally on a p2p service, etc.), an innocent victim (corrupt reseller sold a computer with a pirate copy of Windows), or mis-licensed user (using an OEM license on a different computer, for example). For these people: you're not legit. You have no room to complain. Microsoft hasn't changed its OS licensing rules in a decade, but is now choosing to enforce those rules via activation. Either buy a legit copy of Windows or use something else.

  5. You'd think if they rollup all the hotfixes; they would rollup ALL the hotfixes. After I slipstreamed the rollup package. I still find that the majority (if not all) of the June critical updates, and some "optional components" still need to be installed. This is really disappointing. I'm sure SP5 will come along when MS caves from demand, or at least a Rollup 2.  :}

    You'd think if they release a rollup, users would read ALL the documentation. Or heck, even the summary. Right there at the very top of the page Microsoft explains exactly what this rollup contains, and why:

    This update rollup contains a list of security-related updates produced for Windows 2000 between the release of Windows 2000 SP4 and April 30, 2005. April 30, 2005 is the date when the contents for Update Rollup 1 were locked down for final testing by Microsoft, external beta testing sites, and customer sites.

    Software engineering is an extremely complex process, and it's highly unlikely Microsoft will "cave" to "demand" because there just isn't any. Companies have spoken: they're not interested in distributing another service pack. No SP5 will be released, and an Rollup 2 isn't on the horizon either. Look at the history of NT4, it's about to repeat.

  6. Being that you have the same hardware accross the board you should be able to get by with three images as you suggested, tho you'll still probably get new hardware detected on the first reboot after cloning. As for deploying images, I implemented Ghost Solution Suite 1.0 (Ghost 8.x) a few months ago and it has performed well (and yes, the Corporate/Enterprises releases of Ghost can reset SID's... sysprep is not required for this). Solution Suite also allows you to clone workstations remotely through the use of a win32 client - no need to visit each workstation. As for sysprep, it really shines in it's ability to migrate an install accross various hardware configs. This isn't so much of an issue in your case, but it would provide your users will a cleaner first login after cloning. I use sysprep in my images as i've got 6 "standard" workstation models to maintain (P4 i845/ i865/i915 machines w/ various hardware differences). One sysprep image goes accross all.

    Hey there.

    We have a solution at work using Barts Network Boot Disk and Ghost 8.0 Corporate - on a USB Key that we boot from.  That connects to a shared folder on a server and the .GHO image gets pulled, takes like 5 minutes on 100Mb.

    Basically, we are in the same boat as you, we use Dell machines, and have two different sets of users to prep for.

    The imaging works perfect, all you do in the beginning is name your first machine (with all the updates and programs and a million configuration settings you always need to make) something like Setup or Config, whatever, you can see it in DNS, join it to the domain, give it an IP or DHCP and then that becomes your base image.  Forget SysPrep or anything else, Ghost 8/9 will do the job for you just fine, you just need Barts network boot disk, although with that, finding the right DOS NDIS drivers can be a task.

    You might also have to manually re-CAB them, something we do ourselves.

    Then one -by one, just rename & Re-IP each machine as you go and Bob's your uncle.  (British saying).


    If you need any more specific info, PM me.

    I'd just like to point out Microsoft's Support Policy concerning OS's deployed by disk duplication. Some choice words:

    "Microsoft does not provide support for computers that are set up by use of SID-duplicating tools other than the System Preparation tool. If an image was created without the use of sysprep, Microsoft does not support the running of Sysprep after the image is deployed as a way to bring the computer back into compliance."

    Some people may say, "I don't need Microsoft support, I'll just use this third-party tool that I like better." The issue is larger than just support. When Microsoft says something is supported, it's essentially a guarantee that it works. (And if it doesn't, Microsoft will work with you to make sure it does.) When Microsoft draws a line in the sand and says "This is not supported," they really do mean that. You have no guarantee. I don't know about you, but anecdotal evidence does not a support policy make, so I'm very reluctant to use unsupported software, even if there are many claims of "it's always worked for me." I strongly suggest everyone use Sysprep (and NOT some alternative SID-changing tool) for disk duplication. It's free and included on your XP CD.

  7. Jelorian, I recommend you start reading the deployment documentation that's included with every Windows CD. Look on your CD in the \SUPPORT\TOOLS directory and open the file deploy.cab. If you open the file deploy.chm, you'll find a topic heading entitled "Preparing the Installation for Deployment" that contains the information you are looking for.

    I'll summarize here: Sysprep is a tool provided by Microsoft to help when duplicating disk images via Ghost or another 3rd party tool. Its purpose is to 'generic-ify' a Windows installation so that (among other things) you don't have computer name or SID conflicts on your network. The process, briefly, is:

    1) Install Windows, patches, drivers, and applications, and customize to your liking.

    2) Run Sysprep. This cleans out some machine-specific information and shuts down the computer.

    3) Image the hard drive. Usually this involves booting up with another OS (floppy boot, CD boot, network, etc.) and executing your imaging software (Ghost, etc.) to make an exact copy of the hard drive.

    4) Deploy that image to multiple computers. The sysprep process tells Windows to start up in a special setup mode at next boot, which will prompt for information like computer name and cd key (this can be automated as well). This ensures that each copy of Windows is unique with a minimum amount of effort.

    Extensive documentation is availabe in deploy.chm and ref.chm. Any further questions can be posted here.

  8. First things first. You cannot mix licenses, license types, cds, cd keys, admin install points, activation codes, or ANYTHING having to do with licensing. Period.

    Let's start with what you have:

    1) An Office 2003 Professional OEM license for each computer. You didn't say otherwise, so I'll assume that you have a hologram CD and valid cd key for each license.

    2) An MSDN subscription that includes one copy of Office 2003 Professional Enterprise Edition.

    OEM Office licenses are tied to the original computer they came with. MSDN licenses can be installed on any number of computers but can only be used by a single user. I'm going to assume that you want to get your OEM copies installed on each computer, so get rid of your MSDN media, network install point, and cd keys. Forget you even own an MSDN copy.

    OEM copies of Office support the following:

    - Custom Installation Wizard (transforms)

    - Quiet Install (/q)

    OEM copies of Office do NOT support the following:

    - Custom Maintenance Wizard

    - Admin Install Points

    Armed with this knowledge, what you should do is use the Custom Installation Wizard to create a transform with your customizations. You can COPY the OEM Office CD to a network share (literally copy, do not create an admin install point) and run your installs directly from the network like so:

    \\server\share\Off2003\setup.exe TRANSFORMS=\\server\share\Off2003\Custom.mst /qb

    If you have access to the OEM Preinstallation Kit, it includes a tool to reset the cd key after you've done your deployment, so you can type each machine's unique key in order to activate. If you don't have access to the OPK, you'll need to specify each computer's unique key at install time by using a command line parameter like so:

    \\server\share\Off2003\setup.exe TRANSFORMS=\\server\share\Off2003\Custom.mst PIDKEY=XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX /qb

    Please run the command line exactly as specified; do not include dashes in your cd key.

    I hope this helps, feel free to read the online copy of the Office Resource Kit for lots more information.

    Lastly, your company may want to consider acquiring a copy of Office 2003 through standard volume licensing channels. When you purchase Microsoft software under a volume license, the Product Use Rights grant you the right to use the volume license software and keys in place of other identical products. This means that you would be able to use the volume license copy of Microsoft Office Professional in place of the OEM copies. Makes for much easier deployment all around.

  9. If you want to create .msi's from scratch, the Wix Toolset is what you need. It's for people who want total control of their MSI. Totally open source, free, and easy to use once you grasp some of the basics. Even has tools to "decompile" existing MSI's so you can then build them the way you want.

    If you just want to repackage or reauthor MSI's and can't be bothered to do a little reading, Installshield sells a very expensive 'point and click' product AdminStudio that can help you.

  10. What did you use to make your .iso (or burn directly, if you didn't make an .iso first)? If you use cdimage, add -d to the command line so it doesn't force all filenames uppercase on the media.

    Otherwise, please tell us a lot more about your situation: exactly how you created your setup share, what .iso-creation and cd burning software you're using, how you're initiating the the install, exactly what folders are capitalized, and anything else that changed since last week ("nothing" is not a valid answer - if the results changed, SOME part of the process changed, guaranteed).

  11. You don't need to do much of anything. I said "associate" when I meant "associated." Here's all you need:




    all of your .msp's

    Put them all in the same directory. Run ohotfix.exe. Done.

    The only change you might possibly want to make would be to get rid of the completion notice at the end that tells you you're done. I rather like it, but if you don't want it, open up ohotfix.ini, find the line that says "ShowSuccessDialog=1" and change it to "ShowSuccessDialog=0"

  12. Yes, copy the contents of your Office CD directly. Add your MST, and use setup.ini to point to it so that it's used by default when you run setup.exe

    Download all the patches you need, SP1 and any applicable post-SP1 hotfixes. Once you extract them, you should end up with an .msp for each one. Dump them all in the same director with ohotfix.exe (and associate ohotfix.ini and ohotfixr.dll). Ohotfix will take care of applying all the relevant patches in the right order. You shouldn't need any switches, as all options are specified in ohotfix.ini. Just open it up, each parameter is clearly explained.

    Client updates should be fine as long as you use Local Cache, no need to use the full file update unless you encounter a problem with a corrupted Local Cache or something.

  13. OK, a few points regarding this:

    1) Administrative install = uncompressed source. You can only slipstream patches to an administrative install.

    2) Administrative installs were introduced in Office 2000, and used to be the recommended way to deploy Office on a network. The idea was that the single source on the network could be easily patched and kept up to date by an administrator. In practice, this concept failed horribly as it was too easy for clients to get out of sync.

    3) The Office Local Cache (stored in the MsoCache dir) is the recommended way to deploy Office now, on a network or a standalone computer. Local Cache *requires* the compressed source (ie, the way the cd came, files still in cabs). Yes, this means you cannot slipstream patches if you want to use Local Cache.

    You should make every effort you can to use Local Cache, as it will save you umpteen hours later and you'll never be prompted for your CD later when using Office Update or patching manually. EVEN THOUGH you cannot slipstream patches, it is worth it, trust me.

    To deploy Office + patches, you should download the patches you want to apply. Extract each patch - you can dump all the .msp's together and simply run ohotfix once (should be included in each patch you download) to apply them "smartly." Refer to the ORK or post a response here if you have more questions.

  14. Of course my evidence is anecdotal, but I've seen it time and time again. DOS is the way of the past, WinPE is the way of the future. Ditch DOS and winnt.exe now, jump on the WinPE bandwagon and try it out.

    One of the reasons WinPE can take a long time to boot is if it's loading nic drivers unnecessarily. If you don't need network access, you shouldn't configure the network to auto start. This will save you as much as a minute from the boot time. Other than that, yes, WinPE will take longer to boot than a DOS disk, but look at what you're getting: native NTFS access, and a full 32 bit network stack. The net gain is worth it.

    Microsoft has already made it clear that Longhorn will not support winnt.exe anymore. In fact, WinPE was designed for Longhorn - everything we have now is officially classified as "Interim WinPE", meaning "you ain't seen nuthin' yet!"

  15. Dos boot disks were once the only way to kick off a network install. However, as many of you noticed, this involves a VERY slow file copy process. Smartdrive does speed things up significantly but still nowhere near optimal performance.

    Microsoft has listened to OEM requests (namely, that many systems don't ship with floppy drives anymore, and installs are slow and error-prone) and provided a new solution to replace Dos boot disks: Windows Preinstallation Environment, or WinPE for short.

    WinPE is the modern equivalent of a Dos boot disk. It's a stripped down version of Windows that boots from a CD-ROM into a windowed environment with a command prompt. I cannot express how fantastic WinPE is. First and foremost, you get a native 32 bit network stack and the same NTFS driver Windows uses. This means that installs are fast, fast, FAST. My unattended installs went from 45+ minutes to less than 15.

    Unfortunately, WinPE is not free, although Bart has made a toolset available that will allow you to create a functionally equivalent "BartPE" disc. I highly recommend checking it out and reading up on the WinPE forum here at MSFN.

  16. Please don't use worthless topic titles, as they don't help people searching for the same problem.

    The problem reading files in the asms directory results from burning your disc as "track at once." The correct option for Windows bootable discs is "disc at once."

  17. Let me save everyone the trouble. Slipstreaming in your "saved" activation via the wpa.dbl file is just not worth the trouble. Consider this: if you do have a working wpa.dbl file that stores your computer's hardware configuration post-activation, it stands to reason that 1) You've activated your computer and 2) Microsoft has stored your hardware information on their activation servers as a result. Now, if the wpa.dbl file you have is going to work, then the online activation is going to work as well. It's also quite possible that in certain cases where your saved wpa.dbl file will not work (changed volume label, etc.), an online activation will succeed (120 day rollover, hardware still in tolerance, etc).

    If you want to automate the activation process, activate.exe (included in support tools) can help you do this, or you can also accomplish it via a .vbs script.

  18. If you run winnt32.exe /? you can read the contents of winnt32.hlp. This help file documents a switch you can use to copy all source files locally:


    Instructs Setup to copy all installation source files to your local hard disk. Use /makelocalsource when installing from a CD to provide installation files when the CD is not available later in the installation.

    Sometimes the help files actually ARE useful after all.

  19. Hmm... I'm confused, adding /DisallowSystemRestore when I run wmcsetup.exe /Q:A /R:N doesnt start the installation at all.

    Don't be fooled. The /Q:A switch supresses all UI (except, of course, this nasty System Restore dialog), so there is most likely something going on. It may just notice that it's already installed and not do anything. Try using /Q:U to see some basic, unattended UI or look in your event log for MSI events.

  20. Some brief poking around in the MSI didn't yield anything useful. It's almost certainly a custom action that's invoking this "helpful" system restore prompt. Without some more dedicated MSI debugging, I'd say the simplest way to install this quietly would be to use a script to turn on system restore, install the package, and then turn off system restore. (The last step may or may not be necessary, depending on the initial state of the machine and how fancy you want your script to be.) Here's the scripts I use to control System Restore. Yes, they're blatantly plagiarized from TechNet.


    Set Args = wscript.Arguments
    If Args.Count() > 0 Then
       Drive = Args.item(0)
       Drive = ""
    End If

    Set obj = GetObject("winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!root/default:SystemRestore")

    If (obj.Disable(Drive)) = 0 Then
       wscript.Echo "Success"
       wscript.Echo "Failed"
    End If


    Set Args = wscript.Arguments
    If Args.Count() > 0 Then
       Drive = Args.item(0)
       Drive = ""
    End If

    Set obj = GetObject("winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!root/default:SystemRestore")
    If (obj.Enable(Drive)) = 0 Then
       wscript.Echo "Success"
       wscript.Echo "Failed"
    End If

    Astute observers will note there's extra logic for specifying a particular drive on the command line, some error checking, and verbose results. Feel free to customize to suit your liking.

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