In the Trenches: Using RIS to Deploy Windows 2000 Server
September 17, 2000
If you ask the average Windows 2000 "Joe" what operating systems you can install using the Remote Installation Service (RIS), he'll tell you authoritatively "You can only install Windows 2000 Professional using RIS". And if you were looking for the official party line, he'd be right. However, in the world of Windows 2000, it's the exceptions that are the rule.
Yes, Dorothy! Deploy Windows 2000 Using RIS
The fact is that you can deploy Windows 2000 Server using RIS. We encountered such a situation not too long ago where we needed to install 6 Windows 2000 Servers. Since I had some extra time to do some experimenting, I checked TechNet for any information that might allow me to use RIS and give me another opportunity to complain about the service.
Well, I didn't get another opportunity to complain, but I did find some information on how to use RIS to deploy Windows 2000 Server. The caveat here is that Microsoft does not support this, and if anything bad happens, the fingers are all going to point to you. Although Microsoft does not explicitly state what types of problems you might encounter by deploying Windows 2000 Server using RIS, I can imagine that the Single Instance Storage Service might be a leading culprit.
The Single Instance Storage Groveler Service
Before going into the specifics on how to use RIS to deploy Windows 2000 Server, let's take a look at the Single Instance Storage Groveler Service. The purpose of this service is to reduce the amount of disk space consumed by multiple RIS images stored on a RIS partition/volume.
When you install the Remote Installation Service, you also install the Groveler. This service searches the partition/volume that contains your RIS images hoping to find duplicate files. When the Groveler finds duplicate files on the RIS partition/volume, it will place a single copy of the duplicate file in the SIS Common Store folder on that partition/volume. It then deletes the original files and creates a reparse point, which is a pointer to the actual file located in the SIS Common Store folder. Bet you didn't know that.
An interesting thing about the Groveler is that it isn't biased toward just RIS images. The Groveler searches the entire partition/volume for duplicates and creates the appropriate reparse points. This might be useful if you have multiple users downloading the same Star Wars trailer into their home directories. If you place the home directories on the volume that also contains the RIS images, the 200 instances of that 50 MB file go from taking up 10 Gigs on your hard disk to 50 MBs. Pretty nice, eh?
Of course, there are other considerations you should make before considering such a thing. But perhaps Microsoft will let you take advantage of this feature on non-RIS partitions in the future.
After making these adjustments, you'll be able to perform a network boot-up using either a Pre-boot Execution Environment (PXE) NIC or the RIS Boot Floppy. Just like you do when you install Windows 2000 Professional using RIS.
For More Information:
For more information on how to use RIS to install Windows 2000 Server, click HERE.
For the Knowledge Base article that contains these instructions click HERE.
For more information about the Groveler, click HERE.
For more information on RIS in general, check out Syngress/Osborne Study Guides HERE.