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Image-based Installations of NLB Clusters

Updated: June 1, 2002

Applies To: Windows Server 2003 with SP1

Image-based Installations of NLB Clusters

Image-based installations, also known as disk cloning or simply cloning, is the fastest method of deploying Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Server. Image-based installations are useful if you are deploying computers that have similar hardware and you want to perform quick, clean installations with minimal end user interaction

Cloning NLB Clusters consists of the following steps:

  1. Building a master installation on a master computer. Building a master installation includes installing and configuring the operating system and any software and drivers you need to include on your virtual hard disk.

  2. Preparing the master installation with the Sysprep tool. This includes configuring and running the Sysprep tool on the master computer.

  3. Generating a virtual hard disk of the master installation with the disk-imaging tool. This includes saving each virtual hard disk to a permanent storage location.

  4. Loading virtual hard disks on destination computers that will make up a cluster.

Using SYSPREP to prepare for imaging

Building a Master Installation

You need to setup a master computer which you will use to build a master installation and later to create a virtual hard disk.

Building a master installation includes installing and configuring the operating system and any software and drivers you need to include on your virtual hard disk.

Prepare the master installation.

After you have prepared a master installation on the master computer, you need to prepare a virtual hard disk for cloning. Microsoft provides a tool called sysprep that allows you to prepare an image for cloning. The tool can be found on the Windows Advanced Server 2003 CD in the \support\tools directory. When you run sysprep on the master computer, you can supply one of the following two switches: -factory or reseal.

You can use Factory mode to install additional drivers and applications at the stage after the reboot that follows Sysprep. Normally, running Sysprep as the last step in the pre-installation process prepares the computer for delivery. When rebooted, the computer starts Mini-Setup. By running Sysprep with the -factory option, the computer reboots in a network-enabled state without starting Mini-Setup. In this state, Factory.exe processes its answer file, Winbom.ini, and performs the following actions:

  1. Copies drivers from a network source to the computer

  2. Starts Plug and Play enumeration

  3. Stages, installs, and uninstalls applications on the computer from source files located on either the computer or a network source

  4. Adds customer data

When finished, run Sysprep with the -reseal option to prepare the virtual hard disk for cloning.

For example, you can create a master installation that contains a minimal set of drivers, run sysprep -factory, create an image of the installation, and copy the image to multiple destination computers. If any destination computers require additional drivers, run sysprep -factory on the destination computer and load those drivers at that time.

For more information about the Factory mode and winbom.ini file, refer to Microsoft Windows XP Preinstallation Guide. This document is located in on the Windows Server 2003 CD.

If you do not need to install any additional drivers or applications on the destination computers, run sysprep in the Reseal mode.

Sysprep and Sysprep.inf Answer file

To completely automate NLB cluster installation, you will need to use the sysprep.inf file which is an answer file used by sysprep during and after Mini-Setup.

Required Sections and Entries in sysprep.inf

A fully unattended Setup requires the following sections and entries:


Required section Required entries in that section Comments









You may instead specify JoinDomain, DomainAdmin, and DomainAdminPassword.




Requires AutoUsers if
AutoMode = PerServer.


Required to configure network protocols.




Please refer to the Operating System Sections and Entries for Unattended Install section of this document for an explanation of what each of these entries is used for.

NLB-specific Sections and Entries

See section NLB-specific Sections and Entries for NLB specific configuration options in the sysprep.inf answer file.

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