Testing the RIPREP machine image

For the first test, I simply used the image that I created, as-is, on another, identical machine. The following issues have occurred:

  • Mini-setup asked me for the name (not the organisation) to register under.
  • Mini-setup asked me for the PID key.
  • The setup formatted the entire HDD for C:, not a 20GB partition as the source computer had.
  • On first Windows startup, the screen resolution is not set to that of the source (although this could be a detection problem with the KVM I use).

On the other hand, the image appears to have installed correctly with all configuration steps taken and all applications ready for use.

Customisation of the RIPREP.SIF file should address these issues. RIPREP is annoying enough to not copy anything from the source image’s SIF file, but its default settings get some of the work done. 

According to the RIPREP image creation article in Windows 2003 -Software Deployment – Remote Installation Services, the riprep.sif file is stored in a Templates folder in the image that was previously created. I am going to create another image from the source machine first and then edit the SIF on that image. I’d also like to remove the first image but WDS doesn’t seem to provide a way of doing that. The new image creation goes off without a hitch.

Editing my SIF file, I copy the following chnages from my RISTDND.SIF file that was used to create the original Windows base installation:

  • [data] section: remove line DisableAdminAccountOnDomainJoin = 1 . This line will disable the built in administrator account on the target PC. Disabling is not a good idea because if something goes wrong with domain login you have no local account to log in with.
  • [Userdata] section: add a ProductID = line which contains the license key. Change the Fullname and Orgname value strings to hardcoded constants rather than variable names.
  • [GuiUnattended] section: change the AdminPassword= value to the encrypted form of our local Administrator password and add the line EncryptedAdminPassword=Yes .
  • [Display] section: change the values to the ones I want it to use rather than the defaults.
  • [RemoteInstall] section: include these lines – Repartition=No and UseWholeDisk=No to have the partition size of the original image copied and automatically created.

Starting the image load on the target machine, it is great to see the fully automated process. An interesting difference from Ghost is that RIS appears to run the normal Windows setup process and then customise it and copy the extra files. Ghost just copies the files exactly from the source image. [UPDATE: The Riprep setup runs in three stages: (a) initialise setup and partition the disk (b) copy all files in the image (c) Mini setup applying specific customisations and settings from the SIF file]

The target installation went off with only a tiny glitch. Mini-Setup put a message saying that the administrator password could not be changed. However, while displaying the dialog asking for the password to be entered, Mini-Setup continued automatically without waiting or pausing and the password was found later to be correctly set as per the SIF file. The screen resolution was correctly set… in short, the installation of this image went just as hoped for and completely automatically. [UPDATE: Changing the password to non-encrypted form works perfectly, without the error]

The last post in this series will discuss prestaging machine accounts in Active Directory.