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Unattended hardware independed OS deployment (W7)

Created: 06 Jul 2010 | 5 comments

Helo,

I'm asked to do an study (educational, I'm a student) for an company with 1000 clients on 60 locations. This study should compare SCCM 2007 with Altiris, with the priority on the os deployment part.

I've explored the whole OS deployment with SCCM 2007 and now I'm looking in to Altiris, I won't test it in a test envirnoment due to the limited time but still want to gather as much information as possible and make a good study. My question is if there's some sort of guide that explains in detail how to make an hardware independed Windows 7 image as this is the main goal of the company? Can't really find any good information on that and it's essential to compare both products for me.

All arguments about the discussion sccm 2007 or altiris are welcome but got a feeling it will come down to the price and userfriendlyness.

Kind regards,

Frederik Foket

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kubasa's picture

Interesting topic.  I will be reviewing SCCM this fall as a cost savings measure for our organization as directed by my managers so I'm going to subscribe to this post.  Even though we can essentially get SCCM for free in our organization, I need to weigh this against the ease of use and general fit into our support model in our organization.  Right now as it stands, DS 6.9 sp3 works perfect for us.  We've heard all kind of rumblings about the 7.x series which has made us nervous about how it will work for us and that is what prompted the review of the two imaging products.  We simply need something to deploy images and software on an as needed basis.  We don't need workflow - just something simple to use.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to a few responses on this.

foket's picture

So if you create an hardware independed image folowing this guide : http://blog.brianleejackson.com/sysprep-a-windows-.... What's the next step you have to do to deploy the image, with the use of pxe ? And will the unattended.xml be concluded in the image? Any help/ information on how to do this would be great, trying to understand the different manual action that have to be done in altiris if you compare it with building/deploying hardware depended image, suppose that's with RapiDeploying?

kubasa's picture

Hi Frederik - you might want to check out this thread.  This is only what I do for our organization but there are many different possibilities with Altiris.

https://www-secure.symantec.com/connect/forums/win...

Licenses LCFIB's picture

Hi kubasa,

I've read your solution in the thread you mentioned and we have some questions.

If I've understand you, you do something like this:

- Setup a computer and install Windows 7
- Configure it like you want (profiles, software, etc.)
- Boot your WinPE USB (How do you create it? From DS? Using MS instructions?)
- Execute the script 1 by hand

(you have image pre-sysprep captured)

The script 2 is only executed, in the same way with WinPE USB, when you need to restore your image for modifying it (but, what about
if your hardware has changed? Would it be better to have it in VMware or similar?
).

After having your master image captured:

- Execute sysprep with the unattend.xml (the same that is copied to DS to copy back after restoring with variables, like %COMPNAME% for using ReplaceTokens)
- Boot your WinPE USB and execute the script 3 (is similar to 1 but with different target images)

(Now, I have a question: Do you have DAgent installed in your image? Or you install after deploying?)

I ask this because if you don't have the image your must use the "Initial Deployment" part of DS and have the computer predefined (virtual computer) in DS. But, what if the computer exists in DS and it needs a redeploy of Windows 7?

I'm too in the process of use DS to deploy Windows 7 but I want to use RDeploy (because I want to use deploy to multiple computers using Multicast) and I'm looking for information about how to do this. At this moment, I've setup a Windows 7 and sysprep it. This computer is know to DS but the image doesn't have the agent. I'm trying to use initial deployment for capturing the image but DS always boot in WinPE, then in Windows (destroying the sysprep) and finally it boots again in WinPE for capturing. I'm something lost ...

I'll continue trying ...

kubasa's picture

Lots of questions so I'll try to do the best I can.  First off, the core of all of my processes is that I use ImageX.  I no longer use rdeploy so if you are wanting to use redeploy, my instructions might not be of much help to you.  In any case, you can find instructions on creating a WinPE usb drive here:  http://4sysops.com/archives/build-a-bootable-windo...

As for my base image, I keep it truly basic.  I install the OS and all the updates and make a few configuration changes but that's about it.  I know a lot of people build really elaborate images that have lots of software and settings but I try to let Altiris and Group Policy take care of the software, settings and preference so that my image stays as simple as possible.  That's just a personal preference on my part.  Also, scripts 1 - 3 are done using my USB drive on the same computer each time so there is no need to run token scripts or captures.

As for the dagent, I install it on my computer before running script 3 to upload the sysprepped image.  With Vista, I didn't put the dagent on my image at all and then I would let it get installed during Windows Setup but I haven't been able to get this working with Windows 7 and so I just put it on right before I sysprep the computer. 

Like I've mentioned, this probably isn't Altiris's most ideal way of deploying Windows but there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of very detailed information on how it "should" work and so I've had to chart my own course and make things work.