Disk imaging using Windows 2000 Sysprep : System Preparation Utility

by Wayne Maples [Published on 20 April 2004 / Last Updated on 20 April 2004]

Microsoft has targetted the System Preparation Tool (sysprep.exe) specifically for organizations that use disk cloning for mass deployments. Sysprep strips the SID from the PC being imaged and installs a miniature version of Windows Setup. You then use the imaging software of your choice to clone the "reference machine".

When you start a new PC using the new image, mini-setup runs allowing you to specify network info, languages and locales, display settings, ... The mini-setup can be scripted by having an answer file, sysprep.inf, and thus the imaging process can be totally hands free.

The target PCs must use the same HAL, NTOSKRNL.EXE, and boot device.

The sysprep support files must be in the C:\SYSPREP folder of the image. The required sysprep files, sysprep.exe and setupcl.exe, can be copied from the Deploy folder on the W2K installation CD. Of course to have a fully automated installation, you need to create a customized sysprep.inf file. Run setupmgr.exe to select the options needed for your deployment. The answer file must be named sysprep.inf and must exist in the C:\SYSPREP folder in order to automate the mini-setup process on the clone. The C:\SYSPREP folder will be removed as part of the installation process when the image is generated.

sysprep has four primary parms:

  • /quiet : forces mini-setup to run in silent mode
    quiet means no user interaction. used with an answer file

  • /nosidgen : mini-setup runs, but SID is not changed
    use /nosidgen if your cloning product handles creating unique SIDs

  • /noreboot : computer will not automatically reboot
    not sure why you would use this since the point is an automated installation

  • /pnp : this forces Plug and Play device detection
    not useful if hardware is not compatible. Otherwise, it makes for smoother installation.

You run sysprep and then create the clone image. You are now ready to mass deploy your workstations.

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