Thanks for the detailed reply and my apolgies if you thought the query was
not specific enough in this wide scope area. You mentioned in your response
that you actually used the imageX utility along with Windows PE to deploy
Vista. But once the image has been applied to the destination computer or
customer computer; does the image run automatically without any user
intervention when the customer/destination computer starts or loads up for
the first time. In other words did you have to agree to the license
agreement, insert the product key, regional settings etc. It looks like it
doesn't from your response. Normally, as you know, you can create an answer
file that will answer all these wizard questions such as product key etc and
thereby automating the installation setup for the user. If the applied
imageX does not run fully automated on the destination computer or customer
computer, would it be possible to use a floppy disk containing an answer file
to fully automate the imageX on the destination computer? Although it would
be better still to use an answer file that is saved on the hard drive.
It would be my intention to deploy a clean install of Vista on approx 300
identical new computers on the local area network. I would have a preference
for the new ImageX and WinPE method as it allows you to apply an Image from
a mapped network resource over the network. The WinPE interface also
supports the TCP/IPV4 stack which is important for connectivity reasons when
applying an image over the network. The one concern that I would have with
the ImageX/WinPE2 method is that it will not allow for an unattended
installation at the end of the day when the destination computer is loaded up
with the applied image from the master or reference computer. It seems that
this ImageX/WinPE method found @
is more geared or directed towards a customer/OEM manufacturer environment,
whereby on receiving the destination computer, the customer has to agree with
the license agreement, enter the product key etc. My objective would be to
eliminate this and hopefully to use an answer file with the applied image on
the destination computers over the LAN. I'm not keen on the idea of just
using an answer file saved on a floppy disk or any external device either as
I would have a preference of creating an answer file on the master computer
and saving it to its hard drive and then incorporating the answer file into
the applied image if it was possible. If it is possible to create an
unattended clean installation of Vista using the ImageX tool and WinPE with
the use of an answer file incorporated into the disk image - then this is the
most efficient method in my view. I like the fact you can apply the image
over the network in Vista's Preinstallation environment but can anybody tell
me if you can automate this method with the use of an answer file saved on a
hard drive rather than one saved on an external device.
The setup manager utility in XP allowed you to saved the answer file on the
hard drive of the master or reference computer prior to imaging or cloning
but can a similar technique be used in Vista w.r.t. ImageX/WinPE in order to
fully automate the installation or rollout of PCs in an internal network?
This would definitely save time on the internal network.
I would appreciate any suggestions again.
"JRB Associates" wrote:
> You posted many questions for a potentially quite complex , yet quite
> flexible topic. The specific answers depend on exactly what is desired. Like
> most things, there is more than one way to accomplish a goal. Following are
> some answers which may or may not be what you are looking for.
> The process for Vista, while conceptually similar to previous operating
> systems, is technically quite different. While some of the Microsoft tools
> have the same names, and basic intended purpose, their use is different. Add
> to that, there is a whole new stable of tools available. No doubt, there are
> third-party vendors of tools, personally I have not used any with Vista.
> A big question which needs to be answered is, just what is trying to be
> accomplished. For example: building a few new computers (bare metal),
> deploying (as updates) throughout an enterprise organization while
> preserving existing settings, or any of countless scenarios. That said...
> The last question regarding burning a CD of a reference computer is
> essentially a non-starter for many reasons, among them Vista is far too
> large to fit on a single CD (it needs a DVD or many spanned CDs).
> Unless the image is for internal use, then it can't really be hands-off at
> the first-boot, because the end-user needs to be able to accept the license
> agreement, at a minimum. Not to mention entering the Product ID, and many
> other configuration items.
> That said, the document you referred to provides one example of deployment,
> there are many others depending on what is desired. It is possible to do
> everything from having an autounattend.xml file on a floppy on USB memory
> stick and boot from the Vista DVD supplied by Microsoft; or follow the
> document you mentioned, and boot from a created PE disk, and use ImageX to
> apply from a mapped network share; to having multiple images on a WDS server
> and PXE boot the new PC, and select which image to apply. I have used all of
> the above three and they work well. Microsoft provides the tools and they
> have worked well. There is a HUGE amount of documentation beyond what was
> mentioned, and a great deal to learn.
> Best wishes,
> John Baker