Ask the Windows 2000 Dev Team
Every other week we put your How-Come-You-Did-That questions to the Windows 2000 development team. Submit your questions here.
Remote Installation Services
Q: As an IT professional, why would I want to use the "PXE" option found in the BIOS setting in client computers on my company's network?
A: The Pre-Boot eXecution Environment (PXE) architecture is used for boot-strapping a client computer. Client computers that have PXE as the first choice for booting the machine can take advantage of the Remote Installation Service (RIS) to set up new machines — if you, as administrator, have RIS set up for them.
The dialog between client and domain server begins when a new DHCP- PXE-based remote boot client computer is powered on for the first time. The client requests and receives an Internet Protocol (IP) address, and the IP address of an active boot server via the DHCP protocol. The client computer also receives an IP address of the RIS server that will service the client. In the response from the RIS server, the client computer receives the name of a boot image the client computer needs to request when first contacting the RIS server for service.
Q: Isn't Remote Installation Service just a form of running Setup from a CD on someone else's machine?
A: No, in fact, there is much more to RIS than simply running Setup. A typical RIS image contains configuration information that users would otherwise have to individually apply to their machines. Think about how much time the average person spends tweaking his or her settings to match corporate requirements: applications, utilities, machine name, network settings, and so on. Much of that work can be done in advance on a "model" machine by an administrator with the appropriate administrative and security permissions. Users then boot up their machines using the PXE option, press the F12 key when prompted, then answer a few simple questions. RIS takes care of setting up the software for them.
Q: Hey, what happened to the Ports icon in Control Panel? How do I add a COM port?
A: The Windows 2000 team has done a great job on the Plug and Play Architecture for Windows 2000. Chances are, if you've installed a new COM port or ports, Windows 2000 will detect and install the necessary software automatically. Otherwise, you can add a COM port and a variety of other devices using the Add/Remove Hardware wizard found in Control Panel. To see a list of devices in your computer, right-click on the My Computer icon on the desktop, select Manage, then open the System Tools icon and go down to Device Manager. You'll recognize the hierarchical diagram of devices you have seen in the Win9x products. Click any of the device categories, and you can see which devices you already have. Check Properties, and you can disable or uninstall them if you want.