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Old 25-Mar-2007, 21:38   #1
demonic
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Default Windows Deployment Services vs Ghost & RIS

I have a 100 workstation environment and currently there is no deployment method.

I have 2 solutions before me and that is using GHOST & RIS, something which I am very familiar about, or using WDS, which I know nothing about.

Using Ghost & RIS.

I am able to build each unique instance of machine to an image and then using PXE boot, re-deploy that to any number of machines that I want. The re-deploying of a machine literally takes no more than a maximum of 5 minutes.

The only downside, is that Ghost requires a cost. I will be enquiring with Symantec, whether or not they will want me to purchase 100 licences, even though the software will only be installed on a server and will only connect to 1 PC at a time (to either create the image or deploy it)

------------------------

WDS.

As I understand it with WDS. Windows can pull down an image of the CD to the workstation. Using scripts, you can create an unattended installation, so that it is automatic. However, my question is then about drives and installation of software.

Based on time, how far behind or how close is it to Ghost?

What I want it to do, in the shortest amount of time possible, is install windows, install the relevant drives, windows updates, software packages of my choice and setup the default user profile to how I want.

Can WDS do this? The main benefit with WDS, it that its free
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Old 26-Mar-2007, 09:25   #2
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You can integrate whatever patches&drivers you want,
Say 30min for that (depends on your target PC, Vista is installed for < 30 min on Core2 + 2GB ram)
+ time needed to install software

maybe you can use some free cloning software, dunno
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Old 26-Mar-2007, 09:43   #3
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Dunno if you have other software considerations, but Acronis makes really good software for deployment.

http://www.acronis.com/
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Old 26-Mar-2007, 20:06   #4
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Was speaking to a rep at Symantec online.

Although I have a certain amount of workstations and I will not be installing or using any of the workstation features of the software, like inventory or retrieving and storing user profiles. He says that if you have 100 workstations and 1 deployment server. You will need 100 licences.

Even though, you may go through a year without needing to re-image. You'll have to pay for 101 licences.

I asked him, if all I could do was pay for 1 server licence and maybe 5 workstation licences, that in the event I really need to re-image more than 1 workstation.

The answer was no. I needed to pay for 101 licences. Which I find to be honest, a complete joke.

I've asked to look at the licencing documentation and sadly it was unavailable (no suprise there).

A licence (min quantity 5) is £28. So for 100 licences its £2800. Which they can p*ss off to be honest. There is no way, I would pay for something that is hardly used. I would rather tell people to suck up the wait for their machine to be deployed, than to pay this extoriant price!
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Old 27-Mar-2007, 09:47   #5
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I think using is Ghost is a bit of a hassle. We currently have more than 10 images for desktops and laptops which is used regularly and to keep them relatively up to date, is a hassle. On the other side, it is fast to image...

Im looking forward to have a look at WDS the next months and see what that brings, but Im worried about the time it will take to deploy the "image" a bit.
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Old 27-Mar-2007, 18:21   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tokelil View Post
I think using is Ghost is a bit of a hassle. We currently have more than 10 images for desktops and laptops which is used regularly and to keep them relatively up to date, is a hassle. On the other side, it is fast to image...

Im looking forward to have a look at WDS the next months and see what that brings, but Im worried about the time it will take to deploy the "image" a bit.
You need to investigate SYSPREP it sounds like. We have three images: A WinXP Tablet-Edition image, a WinXP image, and a Win2K image. We can drag those images down onto any one of four tablet models (for the tablet image) or thirteen various laptop or desktop models (for the XP and 2K images). That even includes pulling that image down on machines with different HALs.

Sysprep is a beautiful thing, and I'm even using Ghost 8.2 which is pretty old by current standards. We'll be skipping Ghost for our Vista rollout and moving straight to IMAGEX.
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Old 28-Mar-2007, 15:16   #7
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You need to investigate SYSPREP it sounds like.
Out of interest, if you are using SYSPREP, how do you manage the auto install of applications like Office or a Browser like firefox?
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Old 28-Mar-2007, 16:01   #8
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Out of interest, if you are using SYSPREP, how do you manage the auto install of applications like Office or a Browser like firefox?
SMS packages + some VBS scripting intelligence.

Best practice for ANYONE: avoid installing applications at almost all costs into an "image". The more apps you install into an image, the more times you will have to crack open that image to do updates. What hapens when Office needs a security update? What happens when Firefox has a new version that you want? What happens when your company shifts from MS Office to OpenOffice?

Each time you'd have to crack open your image, make a ton of changes, re-test the thousand things already included in that image (other apps, other settings, did you remember to get them all?) and then re-ghost.

That is not what SYSPREP was for.

SYSPREP was for buildling an Operating System image. Our image contains nothing more than the OS and a compilation of network card drivers that span the gammut of our hardware. Why only nic drivers? Because so long as we have nic drivers, we can install anything and everything else 100% automatically using a combination of devcon (MS's command-line version of device manager = awesome), SMS packages (office, browser, shockwave, adobe reader, antivirus) and VB Script to run it all.

If office needs an update, throw it in the Office SMS package. If your company switches from Firefox to Opera? Change your VBScript to point to the differenly-named package. Hell, replace an old package with a same-named new package that contains your requested app and don't change any scripting at all. Need another app added to the default list? Slap in another line of VB that launches the install for your next app.

There's a lot of great ways to make builds automatic and fast; I can't think of a "great" way that involves putting applications into an OS image.
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Old 28-Mar-2007, 19:37   #9
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Isnt sysprep used after a system has been built?

Just trying to get this straight in my head

You install Windows, install all the device drivers for all the machines that you have and then sysprep this?

You then put the image to be deployed on your network and then script in your sms packages to be deployed?

Am I getting you right there, or could you take some time to explain your particular process.

I totally agree with what you have said with ghost. So I would be keen to learn something from your experience.

Only thing, I dont have SMS and Im not sure my company will go for it. So are there other solutions for it? As in building say an office package I can then script to install.
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Old 28-Mar-2007, 20:58   #10
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I think you've got the idea. Lemme run our process down, step-by-step, to give you the best picture of how we do it. Note: I'm not saying our method is the best, but it has served us well for quite a while

To begin, we use a raw XP install CD.

We slipstream the latest service pack.

We build a machine from scratch with the slipstreamed CD.

We run a little VBS file that makes changes such as power profile, some local user account updates, etc so that they always get set the same way every time (in case we need to rebuild the image from the ground-up later)

We create a folder off the root named C:\DRV. We dump a few NIC drivers in there (we really only need Intel Pro100/1000 and Broadcom B57/Q57/B440x and point the Sysprep.inf to that folder for additional drivers.

We reboot this box, and make a Ghost image of it before sysprep. I'll tell you why in a few...

We run sysprep. When the machine shuts down, we restart it and ghost that image up to our server too. This is now our production image for any/all machines.

What about that before-sysprep image? Once a quarter, we download that image again, do a bunch of automatic updates for the OS, re-sysprep it and re-ghost it up. This keeps that image relatively up to date, which means the techs on the floor don't have to wait for a years' worth of windows updates to come down.



Ok, so that covers the creation of a Sysprep image. Now here's how we get around the HAL issues...

Every machine that a technician builds starts by booting from WindowsPE.

They boot, we have a bunch of scripting that asks them what they want to do. So they say "Build an XP box". This uses Ghost32.exe to pull down the sysprep image.

Before we exit from PE, the script mounts the local drive so we can access the image. A simple query tells us which HAL file PE detected as being needed (MPS, MACPI, AACPI, etc) so we extract the proper HAL and KERNEL file and copy it down to C:\Windows\System32.

Machine reboots and begins running the minisetup.

From the "RunOnce" key, we have a script that identifies what implementation network we're on (IP address = 10.x.x.x = server A. IP subnet = 11.x.x.x= server B, etc) and points to the proper server to download a script and run our SMS packages.

Script says: Run package1.exe Run package2.exe Run package 3.exe. They run, the machine is finished.



Ok, so there's both pieces. Now, you don't want to use / don't want to spend the money for SMS? Can't blame ya Hop on Google and check out "autoit" -- freeware automation that ROCKS. You can probably do everything in Autoit that we would do try to do with SMS Installer.
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Old 29-Mar-2007, 07:55   #11
demonic
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Thanks for the blow by blow account.

Couldnt you use RIS or WDS for PXE boot and streaming the OS to the client, instead of using GHOST?

I cant justify GHOST here, I'd rather have the money go elsewhere :P
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Old 29-Mar-2007, 13:28   #12
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Quote:
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Thanks for the blow by blow account.

Couldnt you use RIS or WDS for PXE boot and streaming the OS to the client, instead of using GHOST?

I cant justify GHOST here, I'd rather have the money go elsewhere :P
I'm sure you could, using some sort of Unattend file. We use Ghost 'cause it's faster (in our environment) to ghost the OS down than wait for it to build "from scratch"; that doesn't mean it's necessarily better. In fact, an Unattend setup might have advantages in patching / SP updates versus our method.

I will say this though: PXE has "problems" with some NICs and WindowsPE. The Intel Pro/1000MT comes to mind specifically; I've seen a LOT of people over on MSFN continually fight with PXE booting issues (not that you can't boot it, but once you DO boot it, the nic stops working, or the performance is suddenly terrible, or it loses connection with the server, or whatever)

PXE boot is neat, but for general purposes, the only thing we PXE boot in our environment is the servers -- and that's because they never move and have much better technology. Nearly all consumer-grade laptop/desktop hardware is PXE-bootable, but not all of them are good solutions (read: cheap )
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And riots are about to begin too.
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Old 30-Mar-2007, 14:45   #13
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The simplest way to do it is to use nLite to make the basic image and use a CD/DVD to distribute it.

For automating stuff and distributing software, there are many good packaging tools (use as a macro recorder to automate stuff) to (re)package software. Altiris owns most of them at the moment. You can simply distribute stuff by trying to run everything, but put access restrictions on the directories it resides.

The main thing with software distribution is, that you distribute EVERYTHING. As soon as you start making manual changes to workstations, the system breaks down.

The hardest part is, that you need to split most actions into two separate parts: a part that runs as administrator, and a part that runs as user. Or you can make all users local admin and disable the server service. If they trash their own computer, you can simply rebuild it. If you don't want that, you also need a run-as-admin tool, that encrypts the command and password.
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Old 30-Mar-2007, 19:57   #14
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At the moment I use a PXE system included in LanDesk, but I have successfully used cheaper systems in the past.

Simplest thing is to host a Windows image on an FTP server and write a bootable floppy/CD/USB stick to boot and run a pre-defined Windows install via the FTP server.

Most PXE based systems will cost you quite a bit, whereas the FTP system is free and can be easily achieved without expensive software/hardware.
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Old 30-Mar-2007, 23:06   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Albuquerque View Post
I will say this though: PXE has "problems" with some NICs and WindowsPE. The Intel Pro/1000MT comes to mind specifically; I've seen a LOT of people over on MSFN continually fight with PXE booting issues (not that you can't boot it, but once you DO boot it, the nic stops working, or the performance is suddenly terrible, or it loses connection with the server, or whatever)

PXE boot is neat, but for general purposes, the only thing we PXE boot in our environment is the servers -- and that's because they never move and have much better technology. Nearly all consumer-grade laptop/desktop hardware is PXE-bootable, but not all of them are good solutions (read: cheap )
Thats weird, cos I have never ever had issues with PXE. Thankfully, all my hardware in my office boots up no problem with PXE. The issue I have is cost. I will be looking into WDS next week and then I will be looking at solutions like n-Lite to really cut down on a version of XP and then seeing how long it will take to build an IMAGE with all the drivers that are needed and then see if I can build a script that can install the apps.

At the end of the day, if I can make it reasonable. I can implement a time saying that, due to cost its now 45 minutes to build a machine from scratch and its unattended. I think my company and I would be able to live with that.

Anyway, thanks guys for the informative thread, has given me alot of food for thought
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Old 11-Mar-2008, 01:36   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by demonic View Post
I have a 100 workstation environment and currently there is no deployment method.

I have 2 solutions before me and that is using GHOST & RIS, something which I am very familiar about, or using WDS, which I know nothing about.

Using Ghost & RIS.

I am able to build each unique instance of machine to an image and then using PXE boot, re-deploy that to any number of machines that I want. The re-deploying of a machine literally takes no more than a maximum of 5 minutes.

The only downside, is that Ghost requires a cost. I will be enquiring with Symantec, whether or not they will want me to purchase 100 licences, even though the software will only be installed on a server and will only connect to 1 PC at a time (to either create the image or deploy it)

------------------------
I've just come across this thread doing a google search. I see you mention you use ghost and RIS. Well I'm trying to setup a ghost and ris server to image several machines at work but can't for the life of me work out how to do it. I even installed SP2 on the server machine to get WDS thinking that would fix my problem but nope.

My question is, does anyone have an idiots step by step guide for setting up a ghostcast server so that I can use ghostcast to listen for booting machines and then image them?

I've installed DHCP on the server machine, then ghost 8 and run ghost cast but it's just not picking any machine that is then booted with PXE, up. I'm at a lose.
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Old 11-Mar-2008, 03:39   #17
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I've asked to look at the licencing documentation and sadly it was unavailable (no suprise there).
let me get this right you are expected to agree with a license but your not allowed to see what your agreeing to ?

seriously software devs have a dammed cheeck complaining about anything the crap they can pull is beyond beleif
every other industry on the planet must look at them with envious eyes
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Old 11-Mar-2008, 06:22   #18
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Davros, it's not the actual software developers that control things like software licensing, it's the company's damned legal department.
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Old 11-Mar-2008, 11:25   #19
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Sack the suits the world would be better without them...
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