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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sysprep - Tutorial

Sysprep is a handy tool, with this tool you can install the Windows OS and any applications where you want, such client and/or server machines. Windows XP installation can last for 90 minutes or even more, considering all the hotfixes, service packs and applications you need to install. This can make OS installations extremely time consuming operation for the IT administrator.
One way to save this time is to deploy the OS using an image-based installation and you can do that with Sysprep.
I let here a tutorial how to do that, check it out!

1. First Setup your Client Image
Install all programs you want, A/V, updates, etc. Go ahead and add the computer to the domain and any other configurations you need for your network. Also, don't forget to install all the drivers you need for your various client hardware.

2. Remove proprietary drivers
This step is very important to remember. If you ever want to use your images for hardware besides the one your installing for.

1. Open up your device manager and expand the "IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers" section
2. For each device listed go to the properties and select the driver tab.
3. Select "Update Driver..." button and chance the driver to a "Standard" type driver (see reference picture)

3. Install the Sysprep Files
Next you will want to grab your Windows XP CD. Make sure you have explorer set so you can see hidden files.

Navigate through the "Support" directory to the "Tools" directory. From there you will see a file marked "Deploy.cab". Open this file and copy the contents to a directory on your machine. For example you can create a directory C:\Sysprep and copy the files there or you can create a subdirectory C:\Windows\Sysprep and place the files in there. Its up to you.

4. Launch Sysprep
Now that you copied the necessary files down, launch sysprep by double clicking on "Setupmgr.exe"

Since we are creating a new image in this how-to select the "Create new" bullet and click next.

5. Define what type of Sysprep setup you wish to make
Here you will want to specify what type of setup your wanting to do. To make things simple lets just create a standard "Sysprep setup" and we will want to make this for a "Windows XP Professional" client.

6. Do not fully automate the installation... yet
For this how-to we will not fully automate stuff just yet. Since this is the first time we have done Sysprep lets just go through the steps.

7. Go through each selection and configure your client/image
Now you want to go through each section on the left pane and configure your image. Remember, your not just configuring this for a single client, we want to take this image and use it as much as we can, so be sure to stick to defaults.

Some things to remember is if you don't have a single windows key that you can use for all your clients, leave the "Product Key" section blank so you can enter the key later when you boot up the image.
Another thing to keep in mind is the computer name. You can set it to randomize or you can specify a single name. Depending on how many computers you roll this image out to will depend on your choices.

8. Configure your Identification String
Here you will want to specify your sysprep image. What sysprep does is takes what you type in this field and puts it in the windows registry which you can reference later if you need to figure out what image you originally put on this client.

Be sure to put in something specifc. Here is an example:
Upstairs Office [XP Pro SP3_IE8_Office 07 Pro_Business App ABC123] Org Sysprep Image 12-15-10

Be sure to be descriptive. You'll thank yourself later. :-D

9. Have Sysprep create your answer file
Here in our example I placed the sysprep files under C:\Sysprep so I had the answer file placed in this directory.

10. Now hit Cancel!
Say What!!! I don't want to cancel!

Actually you do once you see this window. Yes yes yes I know its confusing but thats the way Microsoft made this tool. Think of the cancel button as your Finish button.

11. Now go back into your Sysprep folder and launch Syprep.exe
Click "OK" on the window that pops up.

The next window you will want to select "Use Mini-Setup" then click the "Factory" button.

12. Your computer will shutdown
You are now ready for imaging your client. You can use your Ghost, Fog, Clonezilla, etc, or you can take a look at my other how-to on ntfsclone and clone the hard drive.


13. First Boot After Sysprep
The first time you boot this image (this will happen each time you load it on a new computer and boot it for the first time). You will need to login and you will get the same window as you got in step 11. This time you will want to check the "Use Mini-Setup" box just as you did in step 11 and then you will want to click the "Reseal" button.

What this does is configures your client to the specifications you set and reginerates your SIDs so you don't mess up your AD environment.

14. You're Done!
After step 13 your client will shutdown and you will need to restart it. Your PC should now be ready for deployment, however, you may want to take a moment to go back into Device manager and reset the "Standard" drivers back to the specific ones that you changed back in step 2. You don't have to do this but you may want to since the hardware specific drivers are much more efficient for the hardware then the "Standard" drivers we originally specified.

If this is a client with completely different hardware then you may also need to install any other special drivers to get everything working. After you have done this go back through the how-to to recreate the image (remember to set the "Standard" controllers).

Thank you Steve for this tutorial!

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