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Due to the nature of disk imaging copying a hard disk's image to other computers Sysprep has a few requirements (call them limitations if you like): The sample and target computers must have the identical hardware abstraction layers (HALs). For example, a disk image created on a computer using a single processor HAL is not compatible with one that uses a multiprocessor HAL. The sample and target computers must have compatible BIOS types. For example, a disk image created on a computer with an ACPI BIOS is not compatible with a computer that has an APM BIOS. A disk image created using an APM BIOS is often compatible with a computer that has an ACPI BIOS, though. The target computer's hard disk must be the same size or larger than the sample computer's hard disk. If the target computer's hard disk is larger, you can set ExtendOEMPartition in Sysprep.inf to extend the disk image to the end of the disk. The Sysprep.inf sample on the facing page shows an example of using this setting to extend a partition. Sysprep only prepares the disk image; it doesn't clone the disk. Thus, to deploy the disk image, you'll have to use a third party disk imaging product. The sidebar "Third Party Disk Imaging Suites," on the facing page, gives you choices to evaluate. My preference is Symantec Ghost, but there are many good products. Windows XP's documentation also says that the mass storage controllers (IDE, SCSI, and the like) must be identical on the sample and target computers. This isn't so if you tell Sysprep in advance about the mass storage controllers you're anticipating. For more information, see the section titled, "Reducing Image Count," later in this chapter. I've had good luck building images using one mass storage controller and deploying to computers with completely different mass storage controllers. The sample and target computers' remaining devices do not have to be the same. That includes Plug and Play devices, such as modems, sound cards, network cards, video adapters, and so on. If you anticipate devices for which Windows XP doesn't include native support (the device doesn't 268
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have a driver in Drivers.cab), you should include those device drivers in your image so that Mini Setup Wizard can detect and install them during installation. This usually includes devices that come to market after Windows XP. 12, "Deploying with Answer Files," describes how to deploy third party device drivers with Windows XP. TipOften, device drivers that you download from a vendor's Web site aren't suitable for deployment. They install from package files, so you can't easily extract the device driver files and then figure out which files are necessary and which aren't. You can almost always get the latest device drivers from Windows Update, though, and these device drivers are in a suitable format for deployment through an answer file and on a disk image. The trick is to use the Windows Update Catalog. In Internet Explorer, click Tools, Windows Update. In the Web page's left pane, click Personalize Windows Update. In the right pane, select Display The Link To The Windows Update Catalog under See Also, and click Save Settings. Now you'll see the Windows Update Catalog link in left pane of the Windows Update Web site, and you can search for and download device drivers that are packaged and ready for deployment. Third Party Disk Imaging Suites Sysprep only prepares disks for duplication; it doesn't clone them. Thus, you're going to need a third party tool to deploy disk images. A small selection of the tools with which I'm familiar includes the following: Symantec Ghost. http://www.symantec.com Altiris eXpress 5. http://www.altiris.com Phoenix ImageCast. http://www.it infusion.com PowerQuest DeployCenter. http://www.powerquest.com Symantec Ghost is at the top of the list because it's the tool that I know best and the one I use most often. It's a robust disk imaging tool that does much more than just clone disk images. For example, you can deploy a disk image to a remote computer without ever getting up from your desk. You can use it to manage configurations, too, not just disk images. When I talk to administrators around the world, this is the tool that 90 percent of them use, whereas the other tools tend to have a small but loyal following. Regardless, the disk imaging process is roughly the same with all these tools, and most of them are high quality.
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