When you install Windows XP Professional on several computers with identical hardware configurations, the most efficient installation method to use is disk duplication. By creating a disk image of a Windows XP Professional installation and copying that image onto multiple destination computers, you save time in the rollout of Windows XP Professional. This method also creates a convenient baseline that you can easily recopy onto a computer that is experiencing significant problems.
One of the tools that you will use for disk duplication is the System Preparation tool (SYSPREP.EXE) that ships with Windows XP Professional. Knowing how to use the System Preparation tool can help you prepare master disk images for efficient mass installations. There are a number of third-party disk-imaging tools that you can use to copy the image to other computers. This lesson explains how to use the System Preparation tool to prepare the master image.
To install Windows XP Professional using disk duplication, you first need to install and configure Windows XP Professional on a test computer. You then need to install and configure any applications and application update packs on the test computer. Next, run SYSPREP.EXE on the test computer to prepare it for duplication.
Before you can use the Windows System Preparation tool, you must copy the necessary files onto the computer you are using to create the master image. To copy the System Preparation tool, you must extract the files from \Support\Tools\DEPLOY.CAB on the Windows XP Professional CD-ROM. For the steps to do this, see Exercise 1, "Extracting the Windows XP Professional Deployment Tools," in Lesson 1 of this chapter.
The System Preparation tool was developed to eliminate problems encountered in disk copying. First of all, every computer must have a unique security identifer (SID). If you copied an existing disk image to other computers, every computer on which the image was copied would have the same SID. To prevent this problem, the System Preparation tool adds a system service to the master image that creates a unique local domain SID the first time the computer to which the master image is copied is started.
The System Preparation tool also allows you to add a Mini-Setup Wizard to the master copy. This Mini-Setup Wizard runs the first time the computer to which the master image is copied is started. The Mini-Setup Wizard guides the user through entering the user-specific information such as the following:
The Mini-Setup Wizard can be scripted so that this user-specific information can be entered automatically.
The System Preparation tool causes the master image to force the computer on which the master image is copied to run a full Plug and Play device detection. The hard drive controller device driver and the hardware abstraction layer (HAL) on the computer on which the disk image was generated and on the computer to which the disk image was copied must be identical. The other peripherals, such as the network adapter, the video adapter, and sound cards on the computer on which the disk image was copied need not be identical to the ones on the computer on which the image was generated.
The System Preparation tool can also be customized. Table 19.1 describes some of the switches you can use to customize SYSPREP.EXE.
Table 19.1 Switches for SYSPREP.EXE
Runs with no user interaction because it does not show the user confirmation dialog boxes
Does not regenerate SID on reboot
Forces Setup to detect Plug and Play devices on the destination computers on the next reboot
Restarts the source computer after SYSPREP.EXE has completed
Shuts down without a reboot
Forces a shutdown instead of powering off
For a complete list of the switches for SYSPREP.EXE, start a command prompt, change to the Deploy folder or the folder where you installed SYSPREP.EXE, type sysprep.exe /? and press Enter.
In this practice, you use the Windows System Preparation tool to prepare a master image for disk duplication.
If you haven't completed Exercise 1 of Lesson 1 in this chapter, you must complete that exercise and extract the System Preparation tool from the Windows XP Professional CD-ROM before you can complete the following exercise.
If you complete the following exercise, you will have to reinstall Windows XP Professional on your computer.
If you did not extract the deployment tools to C:\Deploy, use the correct path to Sysprep.
A Windows System Preparation Tool dialog box appears, warning you that running Sysprep version 2.0 might modify some of the security parameters of this system.
You should run Sysprep only if you are preparing your computer for duplication.
Sysprep displays a System Preparation Tool dialog box allowing you to configure Sysprep.
To quit Sysprep, in the Flags box, click the down-pointing arrow in the Shutdown box, select Quit, and then click Reseal to stop System Preparation from running on your computer.
Sysprep displays a Windows System Preparation Tool message box, telling you that you have chosen to regenerate the SIDs on the next reboot. You only need to regenerate SIDs if you plan on imaging after shutdown.
If you did not want to regenerate SIDs, you would click Cancel, select the NoSIDGEN check box in the Flags box, and then click Reseal.
Sysprep displays a Sysprep Is Working message box telling you that the tool is removing the system-specific data on your computer.
You can run Setup Manager to create a SYSPREP.INF file, which provides answers to the Mini-Setup program on the destination computers. You can also use this file to specify customized drivers. Setup Manager creates a Sysprep folder at the root of the drive image and places SYSPREP.INF in this folder. The Mini-Setup program checks for SYSPREP.INF in the Sysprep folder at the root of the drive in which Windows XP Professional is being installed.
After running Sysprep on your test computer, you are ready to run a third-party disk image copying tool to create a master disk image. Save the new disk image on a shared folder or CD-ROM and then copy this image to the multiple destination computers.
End users can then start the destination computers. The Mini-Setup Wizard prompts the user for computer-specific variables, such as the administrator password for the computer and the computer name. If a SYSPREP.INF file was provided, the Mini-Setup Wizard is bypassed and the system loads Windows XP Professional without user intervention. You can also automate the completion of the Mini-Setup Wizard further by creating a SYSPREP.INF file.
When you use disk duplication, the mass storage controllers and HALs for the test computer and all destination computers must be identical.
In this practice, you use a master disk image, which you created earlier, to install Windows XP Professional. Normally you would use a third-party tool to copy this disk image to another computer. For the purposes of this practice, you reinstall using the master disk image as if it were a computer that had the disk image copied to it.
Setup displays the following message: Please Wait While Windows Prepares To Start.
After a few minutes, Setup displays the Welcome To The Windows XP Setup Wizard page.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the License Agreement page.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the Regional And Language Options page.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the Personalize Your Software page.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the Your Product Key page.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the Computer Name And Administrator Password page.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the Modem Dialing Information page.
If you don't have a modem, you might not get this page. If you do not get the Modem Dialing Information page, skip to step 13.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the Date And Time Settings page.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the Networking Settings page.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the Workgroup Or Computer Domain page.
The Windows XP Professional Setup Wizard displays the Performing Final Tasks page and then it displays the Completing The Windows XP Setup Wizard page.
The system will reboot and the Welcome screen appears.
The following questions will help you determine whether you have learned enough to move on to the next lesson. If you have difficulty answering these questions, review the material in this lesson before beginning the next lesson. The answers are in Appendix A, "Questions and Answers."