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About the Operating System Deployment Reference Computer

Applies To: System Center Configuration Manager 2007, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 R3, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP1, System Center Configuration Manager 2007 SP2

The reference computer is used by Configuration Manager 2007 operating system deployment to capture the operating system image that you want to deploy to a collection of one or more target computers.

You can configure the reference computer manually, or you can completely automate the configuration of the reference computer and the capturing of the image. The extent to which you configure the reference computer manually is up to you. You can completely automate the configuration of the reference computer using task sequences, you can manually configure certain aspects of the reference computer and then automate the rest using task sequences, or you can manually configure the reference computer without using task sequences. After you have captured an image from a reference computer, the reference computer should not be used again to capture an operating system image from because of registry entries that are created during the initial configuration. It is recommended that you create a new reference computer from which to capture the operating system image. If you plan to use the same reference computer to create future operating system images, you should uninstall the Configuration Manager 2007 client and then reinstall the Configuration Manager 2007 client.

The following table outlines advantages and disadvantage for an automated and manual configuration of the reference computer:

 

Reference computer Advantages Disadvantages

Automated configuration

The configuration can be completely unattended eliminating the need for an administrator or user to be present.

You can reuse the task sequence to repeat configuration of additional reference computers with a high level of confidence.

You can modify the task sequence to accommodate differences in reference computers without having to recreate the entire task sequence.

The initial action of building a task sequence can take some time to create and test.

If the reference computer requirements change significantly, it can take some time to re-build and re-test the task sequence.

Manual configuration

You do not need to create a task sequence or take the time to test and troubleshoot the task sequence.

You can install directly from CDs without having to put all the software packages (including Windows itself) into a Configuration Manager 2007 package.

The accuracy of the reference computer configuration depends on the administrator or user that is doing the configuration.

You’ll still need a method to verify and test that the reference computer is properly configured.

There is no way to “reuse” the configuration method.

Requires a person to be actively involved throughout the process.

Steps for Configuring a Reference Computer

The following table lists the basic steps to consider when configuring a reference computer for Operating System Deployment.

 

Configure the reference computer with the: Description

Appropriate operating system.

The reference computer must be installed with the operating system that you intend to deploy as an image to a collection of one or more target computers. For all operating system images except Windows Vista, the associated HAL type must match the target computer's HAL type. For example, you cannot capture a virtual operating system image and apply that image to a target computer.

Appropriate service pack.

It is recommended that the operating system running on the reference computer should have the most current service pack applied.

Appropriate software updates.

It is recommended that the operating system running on the reference computer should have the most current software updates applied, especially security updates.

Appropriate applications.

You can install all software applications that you would like to include in the image you are deploying to a collection of one or more target computers. You can also install software applications manually or as a custom task sequence step rather than as part of the image when you deploy the captured image. The advantages and disadvantages of each method of installation are described in the section Advantages and Disadvantages of Installing Software Applications and Tools as Part of an Operating Image Deployment.

ImportantImportant
Configuration Manager 2007 software packages that use the Run another program first option to install a dependent program as part of the package are not supported by Operating System Deployment.

Configuration Manager 2007 uses Sysprep to collect information about the applications you installed. However, not all applications are compatible with Sysprep. You must install those applications as a separate task sequence step after the image is deployed, or manually.

Reference computer must be a member of a workgroup

The reference computer must be configured as a member of a workgroup.

Appropriate version of Sysprep or another migration tool.

When you are preparing a Windows XP, Windows 2000 Professional, Windows 2000 Server, and Windows Server 2003 operating system image, the reference computer must have the version of Sysprep appropriate for that operating system installed, particularly if you are deploying the image to more than one target computer. Configure a C:\Sysprep folder in the reference computer by copying sysprep.exe and setupcl.exe to that folder. You can manually Sysprep the reference computer by running the command:

sysprep -mini -quiet - reseal -reboot

When you are deploying a Windows Vista or a Windows Server 2008 operating system image, the Sysprep location is created by default. The default location is %windir%\System32\sysprep

You can also automate Sysprep using a task sequence step or if you are using capture media. For more information about creating capture media see: How to Capture an Image from a Reference Computer by Using Capture Media

ImportantImportant
The Prepare Windows for Capture task sequence step attempts to reset the local administrator password on the reference computer to blank before running Sysprep. If the Local Security policy Password must meet complexity requirements is enabled, then this task sequence step fails to reset the administrator password. In this scenario, disable this policy before running the task sequence.

Appropriate tools and scripts you require to mitigate installation scenarios.

You can install the application compatibility tools and scripts necessary to troubleshoot known installation scenarios on target computers as part of the image that you are deploying to a collection of one or more target computers. You can also install these tools and scripts manually or as a custom task sequence rather than as part of the image. The advantages and disadvantages of each method of installation are described in the section Advantages and Disadvantages of Installing Software Applications and Tools as Part of an Operating Image Deployment.

Appropriate desktop customization (wall paper, branding, default user profile).

The reference computer can be configured with the appropriate desktop customization properties that you want to include as part of the image you are deploying to a collection of one or more target computers. Desktop properties include specified wall paper, organizational branding, and a standard default user profile.

See Also

For additional information, see Configuration Manager 2007 Information and Support.
To contact the documentation team, email SMSdocs@microsoft.com.
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