If you were a Windows NT pioneer, or handled deployment on systems with different hardware, you might remember that before we had the luxury of imaging all of our identical systems, we could take the time to create an unattended installation. After all, an installation was only a series of questions to be answered, right? The problem was creating those darn
unattend.txt files, and those who had a fear of anything without a GUI avoided them like the plague. Well, Microsoft came up with a solution called Setup
Manager. While this tool also existed in on the NT 4.0 CD, it is now a little friendlier and has other uses.
Setupmgr.exe (also part of deploy.cab) is a GUI-based program that allows you to create new or edit existing answer files. All you do is plug in the ‘answers’ and Setup Manager pumps out the text file for you – no more worrying about whether your format is good or not. Setup Manager is also important because it can also create a
Sysprep.inf file, which can be used to answer the questions asked by the mini-setup program after using Sysprep with an image. Finally, Setup Manager can also be used to create answer files for a RIS-based installation. Initiating an unattended installation isn’t much different than in the past. It is worth reviewing the syntax to the
/u and /unattend switches for winnt.exe and winnt32.exe respectively. And yes, UDF (uniqueness database files) files and records still exist.
Remote Installation Services
Another new feature in W2K is the ability to deploy Windows 2000 Professional (and only W2K Pro!) using a Windows 2000 Server service called Remote Installation Services or RIS. RIS is Microsoft’s answer to remote automation of OS deployment. A number of services must be on the network and client prerequisites be met in order for RIS to function correctly. Necessary network services include:
– DHCP (gives client an IP address)
– DNS (to allow client to query Active Directory)
– Active Directory (tells client where to find RIS server)
If the DHCP server is running on Windows 2000, note that the server must first be ‘authorized’ as a valid server in Active Directory or it will not function.
The DHCP server is authorized via the DHCP Manager tool.
Of course, Remote Installation Services must also be installed on a Windows 2000 server in the network. Important things you need to know about
– RIS requires its own dedicated NTFS partition to function correctly, and it cannot be the Windows 2000 System or Boot partition. Microsoft recommends a minimum of 800MB to 1 GB of space on this partition, since it will hold the Windows 2000 Professional images.