Windows 2000 Professional is becoming the operating system of choice in the client environment of many organizations. But how should you go about deploying Windows 2000 Professional en masse in your organization? In this article, Windows 2000 expert Jeffrey Ferris discusses his preferred deployment mechanism, SYSPREP and disk cloning.
Now that Windows 2000 has been in the mainstream for the better part of a year, the early adopters have found the bugs, the TechNet articles have been updated, and the coveted Service Pack 1 for Windows 2000 has been released. I/T managers are running with this newfound sense of stability, and the mass corporate deployments are picking up speed. With the additional management and security features, Windows 2000 Professional is becoming the operating system of choice in the client environment of many organizations. But how should you go about deploying Windows 2000 Professional en masse in your organization?
In my book Windows 2000 Deployment and Desktop Management , I discuss a variety of different Windows 2000 deployment mechanisms, including these:
Bootable CD with answer files
Distribution share points with answer files
Remote Installation Server (RIS)
RIPREP and RIS
SYSPREP and disk cloning
By far, my preferred installation mechanism is SYSPREP and disk cloning.
SYSPREP, the System Preparation utility, is used to prepare a master image for mass deployment on various target systems using a disk-cloning utility. A master image consists of a system containing the OS, applications, and configuration settings that you want to deploy to multiple target systems. Using a disk-imaging utility, such as Norton Ghost or PowerQuest DiskImage, the administrator can take a snapshot of the master system, save it as a compressed file, and deploy it to other target client computers by expanding the compressed file over the target drives. SYSPREP allows a target system to generate the unique information required to prevent network conflicts from cloned systems. In addition, it allows the image to redetect different hardware between the master and target computers.
With SYSPREP, a base image including Windows 2000, Office 2000, an antivirus program, and a couple of common utilities can be completely installed and configured on an average system in less than 30 minutes. The entire image can be compressed with a disk-imaging utility, such as Norton Ghost or PowerQuest DiskImage, to install from a single bootable CD-ROM.
The steps involved in creating a SYSPREP image are fairly straightforward, but creating the initial image takes approximately five hours to complete. The bulk of this time is consumed by the manual installation of Windows 2000 Professional and the additional applications.