Which Win2K install is best for you?

Preparing to cram for your Win2K certifications? First you must install the OS—but be prepared for some unfamiliar options! Erik Eckel explains in this week's Paperchase Digest.

Windows 2000 boasts a few new installation methods not found in the Windows NT 4 platform. And before you can get certified on the new OS, you’ll need to understand all of them—not only to achieve certification, but also to implement your own test network.
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What’s so hard?
You just drop in the CD-ROM, flip the BIOS to boot from the D: drive, and you’re ready to go, right? Well, yes. You still use WINNT.EXE for new installations and WINNT32.EXE for upgrades.

However, while Windows 2000 supports booting directly from a CD-ROM drive, that’s just one of the installation methods at your disposal. In the event that you’ll be implementing multiple systems, you’ll want to be familiar with your other options.

In addition to installing the new operating system from a compact disc, you can install Windows 2000 using the following alternatives:
  • Network-based installation
  • Windows 2000 Setup Manager Wizard
  • Disk Duplication
  • Remote Installation Services

Which will you want to use? It depends upon your situation.

Network-based installation
The network-based installation is similar to the CD-ROM-based installation. However, instead of using a CD to supply the necessary Setup files, the software is shared from a network directory.

Installing Windows 2000 over a network provides a highly configurable implementation. It’s a fairly simple process, requiring four basic steps:
  • Start the target machine using its own network-based software.
  • Establish a network connection between the machine to receive the software and the system hosting the shared folder.
  • Run the Setup program (WINNT.EXE).
  • Complete the Setup installation process.

Just keep in mind that target machines must have the necessary network connection capabilities and at least 685 MB of available disk space.

Windows 2000 Setup Manager Wizard
Many seasoned NT administrators can recount tales of horror from script installations gone wrong. Microsoft has moved to improve such implementations with the creation of the Windows 2000 Setup Manager Wizard.

How does it work? Simple. The Wizard guides administrators with an interface designed to gather the answers the Setup program needs when installing the OS. However, since the Wizard is used, keystroke and other errors are eliminated. Essentially, the Wizard creates an answer file. It’s also smart enough to create the file so that it mimics the current system’s configuration. There's also an option to modify an answer file.

The Windows 2000 Setup Manager Wizard works in conjunction with the Windows 2000 Resource Kit, which must be installed for the Wizard to work properly. The kit is housed under the Support folder on the Win2K CD-ROM. To install the Wizard, navigate to the Support\Reskit folder, and then select SETUP.EXE.

Disk Duplication
Those IT professionals pressed for time will enjoy newfound support for Disk Duplication in Windows 2000. It greatly improves the mass deployment of similarly configured systems. However, the use of third-party software programs, such as DriveImage and Ghost, is still required.

SYSPREP.EXE plays a leading role with Disk Duplication. Once you’ve installed Windows 2000 and other software applications and configured them appropriately, you can use SYSPREP.EXE to prepare the drive for imaging.

Here’s how Disk Duplication works:
  • Install and configure Windows 2000.
  • Install and configure applications.
  • Run SYSPREP.EXE, or run the Windows 2000 Setup Manager Wizard, to create a SYSPREP.INF file.
  • Restart the master computer and clone the drive using a third-party disk application; store it on a shared folder or copy it to a CD-ROM.
  • Boot the target system with a floppy disk created by the third-party utility and connect to the network share containing the drive image.
  • Use the third-party disk-imaging program to copy the image file onto the destination machine or use the CD-ROM.
  • Reboot the destination system.
  • Windows 2000’s Mini-Setup program runs, prompting you for computer-specific information.
  • After the computer-specific information is supplied, the Mini-Setup program generates a new SID, and the system becomes operational.

The biggest benefit of SYSPREP.EXE is that it removes security and account information unique to the PC that was imaged.

Remote Installation Services
If you’re faced with deploying multiple Windows 2000 Professional client systems, Remote Installation Services might be your best bet. It’s not only an installation alternative, it’s also an option for repairing troubled systems.

What’s required? Windows 2000 servers must host RIS on the network, as well as the DNS and DHCP services. Active Directory must be in use, and 2 GB of hard drive space is required. Further, target systems must support remote boot capabilities and be Network PC compatible.

With RIS, after a target system boots using its own network software, an IP address is requested from the DHCP service. Then, the address of the RIS server is provided. The RIS server checks with Active Directory for a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID) for the target system. If it finds one, a previously created image is transmitted to the target system.

If no computer account is found in Active Directory, the target machine must log into Active Directory. The Client Installation Wizard can then be run to select an operating system image that was prepared earlier.

Stay tuned
Be sure to check back at TechRepublic. Future articles will feature detailed instructions for maximizing the use of each Windows 2000 installation method.
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