Customising RIS images with drivers

When you create a basic RIS image, it comes with just the drivers that Windows supplies. To get even a flat image installed on a bare machine, you may find extra network card drivers are needed so that Windows can connect to the network and download the files it needs to install Windows.

For a flat / Risetup image (a base installation of Windows) the procedure for customising drivers is along the following lines. There are two distinct points at which additional network card drivers may be required:

  1. The initial setup phase of connecting to the RIS server and copying the files to the local computer.
  2. The plug and play detection phase in which the network hardware is installed by Windows. At this point you can also add extra drivers for other pieces of hardware.

Once the installation of a particular image is commenced, Windows Setup runs. At this point, it needs to find network drivers from those included in the image to load the rest of the files needed to perform the setup. It is at this stage that you may see a message reading “The operating system image you selected does not contain the necessary drivers for your network adapter.” To resolve this particular issue the .inf and .sys files supplied by the network card manufacturer must be copied to the i386 folder of the RIS image you are installing from.

Once Windows is able to connect to the RIS server, it will complete the initial stages of setup and restart in the GUI setup mode. At this point, network and other drivers can be added to the image so that Windows can install drivers for all hardware it detects. This step is required if using an unattended installation (SIF file). The articles listed below document how to create a folder structure and how to customise the SIF file to tell Windows where those files are. These files are copied to the root of the Windows hard drive.

After changes have been made to the image drivers you need to restart the RIS service, the procedure for which is included in these articles.

Knowledge Base Article 314479 also documents how to add the drivers to RIPREP images (machine images created for cloning to other machines). This task requires additional work, which I haven’t yet mastered. I’ll document my journey along this particular path in a future posting.