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Duplicate PCs in console Windows 7 Imaging

Created: 24 Oct 2013 • Updated: 04 Nov 2013 | 4 comments
This issue has been solved. See solution.

After imaging a PC, a duplicate PC or at least a PC with the same name/ip address appears in the console.  This only happens when imaging a PC with a Windows 7 image.  If you were to image that same PC again, but with our XP image, the duplicate PC goes away and the XP PC remains in the console.  If you reimage the Windows 7 PC with a windows 7 image, another duplicate PC appears.

The Altiris Agent is in the image, but it was manually installed on the reference PC with no network access and the service was stopped, prior to any network connection to that PC in the image building process, so it did not get a GUID.

It has been brought to my attention that it could be our answer file.  For new PCs (unknown to Altiris) we have a custom answer file with a computer name of BASEIMAGE.  While still in WinPE we run a script to prompt for computer name and OU that then edits the unattend.xml file, replacing BASEIMAGE with the computer name we enter.  For Existing PCs (known to Altiris) we also use a custom answer file with @compName for the computer name.  I found this token/variable in an unattend.xml file on the NS.  I have opened the unattend.xml file in the Panther folder on a imaged PC still in WinPE and the proper computer name is replacing @compName.

As well as duplicate computers appearing, our Duplicate GUID report shows newly Windows 7 imaged PCs as having the same GUID as a PC named

"Win-*********" which does not exist in the console.  These PCs have the same GUID as the same Win-********** PC, yet they have different GUIDs from each other.

Operating Systems:

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resendesw's picture

Couple of questions.  What version of DS are you using?  What tasks are you using when you build your Create Image job?

JuniorDS's picture

Console says 7.1.8400.  We have been using a manual process in the past with great success.  Manual sysprep, capture with ghost, import into altiris.

After further investigation, the Win-******* name is the same name Windows gives our reference PC in Audit Mode.  So for some reason, Altiris is picking up both that name and the name we give it and treating the PC like it is a duplicate of itself.  If we delete the PC from Altiris and then update the agent, it gets a different GUID and all is well.

I am assuming the Agent is getting the computer name during image configuration.  We are using the same process we used with XP, so I guess this needs to change for Windows 7. Sysprep gets rid of the computer name, so the agent must be storing that info somewhere.  I have tried clearing the Primary User value in the registry, but we get the same result (HKLM\Software\Altiris\Altiris Agent\Inventory).  I will continue looking for other entries.

The Note of this article:

Refers to a KB about installing the Agent with the Answer File (unattend.xml).  I can't seem to locate this KB and would like to try this method.  Any help locating this KB would be appreciated.

Thomas Baird's picture

The @compname isn't automatically replaced by us, so you'd have to replace it yourself.  You found that file and that token, but it's replaced at task scheduling, not at run-time on the client, so using it in a custom unattend file wont work.  We already have a feature request to support tokens in custom unattend files.  Currently, we can not.  IF you happen to replace it manually and IF this is working for you, then great.

You should seriously consider though puting in Rollup V6 or V7 for DS.  We've made a handful of adjustments about when the NS agent launches post imaging that might also be causing your problem.  One of those was to NOT start the agent before MiniSetup finished.  The problem with starting before MiniSetup was done is at least 2 or 3 fold: 1) MiniSetup would reboot the system while we were running tasks.  2) you'd report up a name to the console before the system was renamed by MiniSetup.  3) - I forget, but I got tired of it and we changed it.

So get the V6 or V7 rollup from us (call in to get it) and see if that helps reduce your problems.  That one fix made a pretty big difference for a lot of people.

Thomas Baird
Enthusiast for making things better!

JuniorDS's picture

I beg to differ.  I am using @compName, @domainou, and @timezone in our custom unattend.xml file.  All of these are being automatically replaced by Altiris as part of our Image Existing PC Job.  I have tested this over and over and it works wonderfully.

I have solved my issue by including the AeXNSC.exe in the image and running an install command from the Specialize Pass in our unattend.xml file, which also works wonderfully.  No more duplicates and the agent starts doing its thing without having to login.