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Generating and Distributing a Virtual Hard Disk

Updated: June 1, 2002

Applies To: Windows Server 2003 with SP1

Creating a Virtual Hard Disk

After you have prepared a virtual hard disk for cloning, you need to create a virtual hard disk of your master installation with a disk-imaging tool and save the virtual hard disk to a permanent storage location. You can use a third-party disk imaging software or a Microsoft technology called iBIG. If you are using a third-party product, refer to the accompanying documentation on how to create and distribute a virtual hard disk.

Startup Media

Before you can load virtual hard disks on destination computers, you need some kind of startup media to boot your computers from. Startup media contains the system files and device drivers that are necessary to start a computer so that the primary hard disk is accessible but not in use. Startup media might also contain network adapter and network drivers, CD and DVD device drivers, disk configuration tools, and scripts or batch files. You can use a floppy, CD, DVD or network boot as your startup media, depending on the capabilities of your destination computers.

If you use third-party disk imaging products, they often provide tools to create different startup media. Otherwise you need to create your own.

Follow these guidelines when creating your startup media:

  • Your startup media must provide network support if you are distributing virtual hard disks across a network.

  • Your startup media must provide CD or DVD device support if you are distributing virtual hard disks on media and you are using a floppy disk as your startup media.

  • Your startup media must support the tools you need to copy a virtual hard disk from a storage location to a destination computer. For example, if your startup media is an MS-DOS startup disk then you need to use MS-DOS tools to copy the virtual hard disk onto the destination computer.

For more information about choosing and creating startup media, refer to the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Corporate Deployment Tools User's Guide (Deploy.chm). Deploy.chm is included in the Deploy.cab file in the Support folder on the Windows Server 2003 operating CD.

Distributing Virtual Hard Disks

After an image (or images) has been created and placed on a distribution share (or distribution media such as CD or DVD) and you have a startup media to boot your destination computers, you are ready to distribute the images to destination computers.

You need to make sure that your cluster hardware and networks are set up as described in the Windows Advanced Server 2003 Online Help/Availability and Scalability/Cluster Servers. All of your cluster nodes that you will be installing already have to be connected to the shared storage.

You can load virtual hard disks to all of your cluster nodes simultaneously. Many third-party tools support multicast image distribution. You can also use iBIG to distribute virtual hard disks to your cluster nodes.

After you have distributed virtual hard disks to destination computers, sysprep runs Mini-Setup. After Mini-Setup finishes, you should verify that all of the nodes have successfully joined the cluster. Open NLB Manager to see which nodes participate in the cluster, and whether everything is up and running. If it is, your cluster is ready.

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