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Appendix A: Resources for Learning About Automated Installation and Deployment for Windows Server 2008

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

In This Appendix

Overview: Automated Installation and Deployment Methods in a Managed Environment

Methods for Automating the Setup Process

Additional References

In a managed environment where one of the goals might be to limit communication with the Internet (as described in other sections of this white paper), it is often not cost-effective to install Windows Server 2008 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 2008 on multiple computers. By using an automated installation method, you can ensure that certain features and applications are not available on your organization’s servers, or that certain features and applications are preconfigured in such a way that helps prevent unwanted communication over the Internet.

There are multiple options for automating the setup process. If you are working to configure your organization's computers to appropriately limit communication over the Internet, any or all of the following tools might be useful:

  • Unattended setup using Setup.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 (an answer file is a customized script that answers setup questions automatically). Then run Setup.exe from the command line with the appropriate options for invoking unattended setup. For information about Windows SIM, a tool that makes it easier to create and validate answer files, see "Using Windows System Image Manager to Create Answer Files," later in this section.

    Using Setup.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 an answer file to provide Setup with your custom settings. The latter method is most likely the best option to limit the way features communicate over the Internet, provided you use an appropriate answer file. Sections in this white paper include answer file entries relevant to the features that are described.

  • Windows Deployment Services

    Windows Deployment Services is the updated and redesigned version of Remote Installation Services (RIS). With Windows Deployment Services, you can install operating system images (.wim files) over the network. You can install the operating system by itself or you can install a complete computer configuration, including desktop settings and applications. Windows Deployment Services installations apply images created the Windows Deployment Services capture wizard or ImageX (which is included in the Windows AIK). For more information about Windows Deployment Services, see the TechNet Web site at:

    http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=106715

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

    Image-based installation is a good choice if you need to install an identical configuration on multiple computers. You can use the Sysprep tool in conjunction with a disk imaging tool to create the images to be deployed.

    For image-based installation, you install a master computer with the operating system and any applications that you want installed on all of the target computers. Then you run Sysprep to prepare the computer for imaging, and then run a disk imaging utility to capture the image. Sysprep prepares the hard disk on the master computer so that the disk imaging utility can create a generic image of the hard disk to be deployed to other computers.

    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 or DVD 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:

    • Selecting computers that have the hardware necessary for a given 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 for the upgrade

    • Automatically initiating the installation of software packages, with the possibility of having the person who uses the computer 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.

Windows SIM provides a graphical user interface with which you can create and validate answer files for unattended setup. Instead of typing information into an answer file, you can use the graphical interface to create an initial version of an answer file (based on a Windows image) and then modify the answer file, for example, by selecting components or specifying driver paths. For more information, see the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) User's Guide, listed in Additional References.

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 the links in Additional References.

You can find additional information about the topics described in this appendix on the following Web sites.

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