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szwicker

New WinPE Windows XP Deployment question(s).

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I think I've seen some people here in the past post some GUI based "front ends" to these installations. At this point, I'm able to fire off an install from PE in RIS but I'd like to get my hands on a GUI so I can basically put the relevant info right away and then let it go on its own.

Any ideas?

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Remove all un needed drivers to speed up the boot time.

You can speed up the entire process but scrapping the unattend setup and using imaging.  Takes half the time if done correctly. 

Ok, I've done some imaging in the past with RIPREP, etc but that only works where you have identical machines, correct?

Whenever I use WinPE, I perform an unattend by hitting a share on my server that contains the installation files, etc. What would be an example of performing an installaing based on "imaging" rather than setup?

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Regarding a GUI front end, you could use either Visual Basic or HTA if you want to do a full-screen GUI - both will require some work (see buildoptionalcomponents.vbs for HTA). Once that's running making an HTA is the same as an HTML page, without the security framework of IE. You could obviously also do a UI in VC(++) if you can code it.

RIPrep = Sysprep for RIS. The requirements are the same for both, the source and destination systems must share the same HAL. They don't have to be identical. The scenario would be almost identical to what you are doing. Start the system with WinPE, identify it (HAL is most important - WMI in WinPE 2004/1.5 will give you that) and then install the image from the UNC. That make sense? Best place to start is the sysprep documentation in the deploy.cab on the Windows product CD (or check to see if the Windows XP SP2 deployment tools documentation is available yet on Microsoft.com).

HTH.

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I suppose if I were to use WinPE to deploy an IMAGE rather then use it to start a fresh WIN32.exe based setup, it would be faster, correct?

I'm trying to find some proper procedures here for doing all this using WinPE but I haven't found anything yet. Most are centered around new setups.

Would this be the proper procedure?

1. Fresh install of XP on a workstation

2. Install service packs & hotfixes, etc.

3. Use Ghost or Winimage to create the image.

4. Create new WinPE CD or RIS install containing Ghost32 or some sort of WinPE friendly "imaging program" and add the new image.

5. Copy the new image to the C: drive, etc and reboot to the image.

I've been doing some other reading and it looks like the only thing I have to worry about in terms of hardware would be whether the workstation is ACPI or non ACPI and that I have the proper drivers, etc. Correct? I deal primarily with Dell workstations which (I assume) are all of a type.

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Generally, yes, it will be significanty faster. Also allows you to remove some of the infinite variables present in regular Windows setup by starting with one common image.

Ghost, PQDI, or Winimage would all work from within WinPE. The only step(s) missing in your list below are "2.5" which is run Sysprep on the "source" system, and then an aspect in 5 that will run the other half of Sysprep with a sysprep.inf file to complete Mini-Setup.

The one catch you have to also watch out for recently with HALs is systems with Intel HyperThreading. They will be "ACPI Multi-Processor", which isn't compatible with an image of an ACPI system with a single processor and no HT.

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So, I would be covered with 3 images: ACPI, non-ACPI, & ACPI-Muli. Between those 3, I would be able to cover any workstation, correct?

Also, in my previous methods I had basically performed unattended installs with scripts & reg files that run towards the end of the installation or during the first reboot, etc. What's the best way to proceed here? Should I install the apps & reg files on the source system and then sysprep & image it? Or, should I keep the source extrmeley bare and put all that stuff in later doing the "installation part?"

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Yes, those three should have you covered. As far as I know, WinImage should just work - unless it has any weird dependencies that aren't in WinPE.

Check the documentatin in the Windows deploy.cab, or the Internet. You are looking for sysprep.inf, and GUIRunOnce. Best practice is to install as much of your image as goes to all users, including the OS, applications, service packs and patches for both. This is a huge benefit to images instead of scripted installs - they don't have to be patched immediately on application if you do it right.

HTH

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So far so good. I've managed to successfully ghost an image using sysprep and then Ghost32. The issue I'm having now is on reboot, I'm faced with the "mini-setup" screens where it demands a CD key, etc. In my RIS days, this wouldn't be much of an issue with sif files, etc but I'm not sure how to deal with it here.

Any suggestions?

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I have to smile a bit - most people I deal with are familiar with Sysprep.inf files, and unattend.txt - but not usually SIF files. :-)

Take a look in the deploy.cab (on your Windows CD, under \support\tools\) for setup manager. Use it to create a baseline sysprep.inf file. Using that you can basically use some of the same entries you have used in the past for SIF files to provide the product key, set an admin password, machine name, etc. Note that the machine naming isn't as capable as RIS - you can't provide a template for machine names like you can with RIS.

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For the record these are the HALS supported by default XP

GENDEV_MFG = "(Standard computers)"
E_ISA_UP.DeviceDesc       = "Standard PC"
ACPIPIC_UP.DeviceDesc     = "Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) PC"
ACPIAPIC_UP.DeviceDesc    = "ACPI Uniprocessor PC"
ACPIAPIC_MP.DeviceDesc    = "ACPI Multiprocessor PC"
MPS_UP.DeviceDesc         = "MPS Uniprocessor PC"
MPS_MP.DeviceDesc         = "MPS Multiprocessor PC"

(note that there is non-acpi MP Hal here, etc) You won't see the first two very often any more.

For the most part you need to keep your images on identical systems. The exception to this rule is in the MP/UP pairs (both ACPI and MPS); with these systems you can create an image on an MP machine and have it automatically downgrade to UP during sysprep. Take a look in the help file shipping in your deploy.cab -- it will talk about an "MPTOUP" setting in sysprep.inf

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Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving.

I think I'm in good shape on the PE/Imaging/Sysprep front.

Here's the other front that's been plaguing me. I want to have an automated XP installation CD that's WINPE based where I can enter the system name, etc. at the outset of the installation. I know that people have posted some of the tools to do this in .hta form etc but they all seem to be built around containing the installation files on a networked server. I'd like to have it all on one self contained CD that I can take everywhere.

Does anyone have anything they can post or files that might fly?

Thanks again in advance.

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If you take a look at some of my first posts I have files that are configured for installing the OS from a CD. I would need to look around here for it but the post is there.

Mike

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Hmm, no luck in finding those old posts so far.

Just so I'm making myself clear: I don't want to kick off an automated installation. I can already do that well enough. I'm looking for the ability to enter in the machine name, company name, etc at the beginning of installation. I've seen some stuff that alludes to this but it's been poorly documented at best. Also, they are based on having the imaged on a network whereas I'm looking to create a purely self contained CD.

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I created a VBS that would prompt for the username, machine name, etc. save it as the new unattended file and then send it to a %temp% locale to be called later by the setup. Just a thought.

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