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Appendix A: Resources for Learning About Automated Installation and Deployment

Published: August 06, 2004


(Note: This topic describes not just Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, but also Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 3.)

On This Page

Overview: Automated Installation and Deployment
Procedures for Accessing Additional Information About Automated Setup Tools
Related Documentation and Links

Overview: Automated Installation and Deployment

In the enterprise environment, it is often not cost-effective to install Microsoft Windows Server 2003 or Microsoft Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 (SP2) using the standard interactive setup on each computer. To greatly lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) and ensure configuration uniformity, you can perform an automated installation of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP on multiple computers. By using an automated installation method, you can ensure that certain components and applications are not available on your organization’s computers, or that certain components and applications are preconfigured in such a way that helps prevent unwanted communication over the Internet.

Methods for Automating the Setup Process

There are several options for automating the setup process. Any or all of the following tools can help ensure that all of your client computers are configured to appropriately limit communication over the Internet:

  • Unattended setup using Setup (Winnt32.exe)

    Unattended setup enables you to simplify the process of setting up the operating system on multiple computers. To run an unattended setup, you can create and use an answer file, which is a customized script that answers Setup questions automatically. Then you can run Setup (Winnt32.exe) from the command line with the appropriate options for invoking unattended setup.

    Using Winnt32.exe, you can upgrade your previous version of the operating system using all user settings from the previous installation, or you can perform a fresh installation using the answer file that provides Setup with your custom specifications. The latter method is most likely the best option to limit component communication over the Internet, provided you use an appropriate answer file. Details about specific answer file entries are included in the respective component sections of this white paper.

  • Remote Installation Services (RIS)

    With RIS, you can install the operating system by itself or a complete computer configuration, including desktop settings and applications. RIS installations can be either CD-based (through the use of Risetup.exe) or image-based (through the use of Riprep.exe). You can also specify which RIS server will provide installations to a given client computer, or you can allow any RIS server to provide the installation.

  • Image-based installation using the System Preparation (Sysprep) tool.

    Image-based installation is also a good choice if you need to install an identical configuration on multiple computers. You typically use the Sysprep tool in conjunction with a non-Microsoft disk imaging tool or Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Automated Deployment Services (ADS) to perform image-based installations.

    On a master computer, you install the operating system and any applications that you want installed on all of the target computers. Then you run Sysprep and a disk imaging utility. Sysprep prepares the hard disk on the master computer so that the disk imaging utility can transfer an image of the hard disk to the other computers. This method decreases deployment time dramatically compared to standard or unattended installations. You can customize the images so that only the files required for a specific configuration appear on the image, such as additional Plug and Play drivers that might be needed on various systems. The image can also be copied to a CD and distributed to remote sites that have slow links.

  • System management software, such as Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS)

    This type of software assists with the many tasks that are involved when you apply automated procedures to multiple servers and client computers throughout your organization. These tasks include the following:

    • Selecting computers that are equipped for the operating system and that you are ready to support

    • Distributing the operating system source files to all sites, including remote sites and sites without technical support staff

    • Monitoring the distribution to all sites

    • Providing the appropriate user rights to do the upgrade

    • Automatically initiating the installation of the software package with the possibility of having the user control the timing

    • Resolving problems related to the distributions or installations

    • Reporting on the rate and success of deployment

Using system management software helps to further ensure that all computers within your organization have received the standardized operating system configuration that helps prevent unwanted communication over the Internet.

Using Scripts for Configuring Computers

In addition to the automated installation methods described here, another common method of controlling the configuration of computers in a domain is to use scripts. For more information about scripts, see “Related Documentation and Links," at the end of this section.

Procedures for Accessing Additional Information About Automated Setup Tools

Products in the Windows Server 2003 family have extensive documentation describing unattended installation, RIS, and image-based installation with Sysprep. You can view this documentation from any computer that has Internet access (regardless of the operating system running on that computer). You can also view Help for Windows Server 2003 from any computer running a product in the Windows Server 2003 family. The following procedure gives the details.

To Access Help for a Computer Running a Product in the Windows Server 2003 Family

  1. Open Help and Support by doing one of the following:

    • On any computer running a product in the Windows Server 2003 family, click Start, and then click Help and Support.

    • View product documentation on the Web at:

      http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29881

      On this site, click the link for the appropriate product.

  2. Locate the specific topics as follows:

    • For unattended installation: Navigate to Getting Started\Installing and upgrading the operating system\Concepts\Planning for unattended Setup

    • For RIS: Navigate to Software Deployment\Remote Installation Services

    • For Winnt32.exe: Navigate to Administration and scripting tools\Command-line reference\Command-line reference A-Z\Winnt32

      Note   Detailed information about unattended installation, RIS, and image-based installation with Sysprep is also available in the sources listed in "Related Documentation and Links."

Related Documentation and Links

You can also find additional information about all of the topics described earlier in this appendix in a variety of other locations:

  • On the CD for Windows XP with SP2, you can find additional information about unattended installations in the Microsoft Windows Corporate Deployment Tools User’s Guide, found in \Support\Tools\Deploy.cab. To view the guide and the associated reference information, make sure Deploy.chm and Ref.chm are in the same folder, and open Deploy.chm. For the most up-to-date information, be sure to view the version of the guide that is included in Windows XP with SP2, rather than older versions from Windows XP with SP1 or Windows XP.

  • For additional information about unattended installation, RIS, and image-based installation with Sysprep, see the following sources.

    • The Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit, especially the book titled Automating and Customizing Installations. The Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Deployment Kit is available on the Web at:

      http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29887

    • “Installation and Setup Technologies” in the Core Operating System Collection of the Windows Server 2003 Technical Reference on the Microsoft Web site at:

      http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29907

  • For general information about Group Policy, see Appendix B, "Learning About Group Policy and Updating Administrative Templates."

  • To learn about specific Group Policy settings that can be applied to computers running Windows XP, see the Group Policy Settings Reference on the Microsoft Download Center Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29911

  • For more information about scripting, see the Script Center on the TechNet Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=24771

  • The Help documentation for Windows Server 2003, included in the product and on the Web, contains information about Windows Script Host. You can find the documentation on the Web at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=29221

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