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Building a Lab Environment

If you do not already have a lab, we recommend that you create a lab environment dedicated to developing and testing deployment.

The lab must mirror the production environment as closely as possible to ensure that all aspects of this environment can be accounted for in the development process. The following are two example deployment environments: a simple network and a server-based network.

Simple Network Environment

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A simple network is ideal for low-volume deployments. The lab must include:

  • A technician computer to host the Windows OPK tools or Windows AIK tools. It can be a workstation, server, or even a laptop, and can be used as a network share. It can run Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, or Windows Vista.
  • Client workstations. Any unique type of workstation configuration found in production must be duplicated in the lab. This enables you to test each hardware configuration.
  • Network hubs and cabling. A router with Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) support is recommended. DHCP services provide TCP/IP addresses to client computers.
  • Internet access. The lab (or a portion of the lab) must have access to the Internet for downloading software updates.
  • CD or DVD burner. A computer must be available in the lab for creating CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs.

Server-Based Network Environment

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A server-based network is recommended for high-volume deployments. The lab must include the previous minimum requirements, in addition to the following:

  • A Windows domain for the computers to join and to host user accounts. This can be a Windows 2000 Professional or Windows Server 2003 domain.
  • A build server in the domain to host the build files and images. This can be a workstation or server class computer installed with Windows 2000 Professional or a later version of Windows. A Windows Deployment Server or a Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) Server is highly recommended for this role.
  • Network switches and cabling. For high-volume deployments, 100 megabits/sec (Mb/s) or faster is recommended to accommodate high volumes of data.
  • DHCP services. DHCP services provide TCP/IP addresses to client computers.
  • Domain Name System (DNS) services. DNS services provide TCP/IP host name resolution to client and server computers.
  • Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) services. WINS services provide NetBIOS name resolution to client and server computers.
  • Keyboard/video/mouse (KVM) switches. It can be helpful to connect the client workstations to a KVM switch to minimize the floor space required to host the workstations.

See Also

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