In organizations with large numbers of client workstations, deploying updates such as Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 can be challenging. As you will see in this article, Windows 2000’s automated installation methods may simplify this task.

In my previous article, we discussed the major fixes, benefits, and known issues with SP2 and offered a few installation tips. Now, we’ll discuss the various deployment methods in greater detail. While it takes more time to do the initial setup for many of these more advanced deployment options, it definitely pays off during the rollout and subsequent installations.

Preparing for deployment
Windows 2000 provides a number of installation options to make life easier on network administrators, including Windows Update, SMS, RIS, the Integrated Method, and the Combination Method. All of these can help you deploy Service Pack 2 flawlessly throughout an organization of any size.

The recommended reading for Win2K SP2 deployment remains the same:

You will want to perform the following checklist before deployment:

  1. 1.      Check disk space and requirements. (You’ll need up to 260 MB for this one; see Q268256.)
  2. 2.      Always check hardware requirements and BIOS versions.
  3. 3.      Determine need—read the documents recommended above.
  4. 4.      Have a backout plan.
  5. 5.      Test the service pack on your staging network.
  6. 6.      Research side effects,
  7. 7.      Schedule an upgrade window large enough to allow for back-out implementation (since things don’t always work out like we plan them).
  8. 8.      Don’t uninstall previous service packs.
  9. 9.      Always perform backup and unload AV before installing. Norton will sometimes inaccurately diagnose the service pack as a virus.
  10. 10.  Check for failed installs—update.exe detects these and will pick up where the last failed install left off

Author’s tip

While conducting this research, I learned that you can open a Microsoft Knowledge Base Q article from any version of IE by typing MSKB Qnnnnnn in the address bar.

Various installation options
Client-based update options. One choice is to update your clients from the Windows Update Web site. Click on Product Updates, and an ActiveX control will generate a list of updates for your OS. The Service Pack will appear under the Recommended Updates section. Simply place a check mark beside Service Pack (ONLY), click on the Download button, click on the Start Download button, and accept the license agreement. The Service Pack will download and install in Express mode. Obviously, this may be an option that is used only on a specific machine, such as a server or an administrator’s workstation, since it would not be very practical for an enterprise rollout.

You can download Service Packs for any OS from any other OS via the Windows Update Corporate site. This site works similarly to Windows Update Web site, but you select the OS version you want to check for updates.

Express installation uses the least amount of working space of any installation method. From the Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 Web site, click on Download Windows 2000 SP2, choose a language, click Next, and then click on Express Installation per the Readme file. This is a Web-based install similar to the Windows Update and it has the same enterprise drawbacks.

Network download and install. This method is the most common and is recommended by Microsoft. From the Windows 2000 Service Pack 2 Web site, click on Download Windows 2000 SP2, choose a language, click Next, and then click on Network Installation to download w2ksp2.exe. Running w2ksp2.exe with no switch will automatically extract and install SP2. Extracting it using the –x switch will prevent automatic installation and allow you to redirect it to a standard installation location. Then, run update.exe from the Update directory to install only necessary updates. If you have SP1, do not uninstall it. Uninstalling SP1 may result in an inoperative condition. Do not attempt to uninstall SP1 after installing SP2. If you don’t have SP1, SP2 can be applied without installing SP1. Table A lists the switches you can use with Update.exe.

Table A: Update.exe switches per the Readme file
-u* Use unattended Setup model.
-f Force other applications to close at shutdown.
-n Do not back up files for uninstall. (I advise against this option unless you have thoroughly tested SP2 with systems that are identical to the one you are applying the SP to.)
-o Overwrite OEM files without prompting.
-z Do not restart the computer when the installation completes.
-q* Use quiet mode—no user interaction required.
-s:folder_name Use integrated installation mode—to a distribution server location.
*If you use –u or –q, you must also use the –o option. This will update the HAL and disk miniport drivers.

CD installation. To install SP2 from CD, run update.exe from the Update directory on the Windows 2000 SP2 CD. (You can order this from the Microsoft Web site or obtain it through a TechNet subscription.) You can simply accept the default options for most installations.

Installing full OS with SP2 applied
Installing a new Win2K system with all Service Packs applied—The Integrated Method. One of the features of Windows 2000 that makes administration easier than ever is the ability to install the operating system and SP2 concurrently, eliminating the need to install the OS, reboot, and perform a subsequent SP2 installation. One caveat is that service packs can’t be uninstalled when installed in this manner.

  1. 11.  Create a new Network Distribution Share for the Integrated installation—reusing an old share can cause corruption in clients that have not yet performed the update.
  2. 12.  Copy the contents of the Windows 2000 CD to the share: xcopy d:\i386 f:\win2000\i386 /s/e/v, where f: is your network share location.
  3. 13.  Extract the service pack to a local or network drive using the command D:\w2ksp2.exe /x and select a local or network drive location when prompted. A directory structure will be created with the full service pack under, of course, I386.
  4. 14.  From that location, run driveletter:\[selected path]\update\update.exe –s:f:\win2000 to create the integrated installation. Note: If you want to use C:\, your PC must be running Windows 2000.
  5. 15.  Make any necessary Windows 2000 customizations.
  6. 16.  Now you are ready to deploy full Windows 2000 with SP2 to your users via winnt.exe or winnt32.exe as you would deploy Windows 2000 alone.

Installing a new Win2K system with all Service Packs applied—The Combination Method. Post-SP2 hotfixes and updated drivers can also be included with your setup. The Combination Method combines the Update and Integrated Methods for a complete installation. Hotfix installation can be used to apply service packs and Post-SP2 hotfixes as well. Check out Q249149, Q262841, Q296861, and Q262842 before attempting this type of installation. The instructions are outlined in detail in the Windows 2000 SP2 Installation and Deployment Guide (with errors in the catalog filename, which is, not as it states on page 37).

  1. 1.      Create a network share and the tree structure f:\win2000\i386\$OEM$.
  2. 2.      Create a $1 directory under $OEM$ for placement of your proprietary device drivers.
  3. 3.      Create an answer file for unattended setup. Read unattend.doc on your SP2 CD for information.
  4. 4.      Create a cmdlines.txt file with the update.exe command.
  5. 5.      Complete steps 2 through 5 of the Integrated Method above. Note: An Integrated Windows 2000 SP2 CD is available from Microsoft to simplify this step.
  6. 6.      Open f:\win2000\i386\dosnet.inf and add svcpack to the [OptionalSrcDirs] section.
  7. 7.      Create an f:\win2000\i386\svcpack folder.
  8. 8.      Copy the hotfix executable program to the svcpack folder using 8.3. If hotfix exceeds 8.3, rename the files to comply with this limitation.
  9. 9.      Expand hotfix to a temporary location.
  10. 10.  Copy to the f:\win2000\i386\svcpack directory.
  11. 11.  In the i386 directory, delete any files to be replaced by hotfix (usually such files end with an _).
  12. 12.  Copy the hotfix files to the i386 folder. If you have multiple hotfixes, see Q296861 for information on qchain.exe.
  13. 13.  Delete f:\win2000\i386\svcpack.in_.
  14. 14.  Create a new svcpack.inf file that looks like this.

Microsoft recommends /q /n /z switches for hotfixes. Q=quiet, N=no backup, and Z=no restart after installation. Other switches (such as /y for uninstall) are outlined in Q262841.

  1. 1.      Verify that all necessary files for the OS, SP, and hotfixes exist in the share you created above.
  2. 2.      Customize Win2K setup as needed.
  3. 3.      Run winnt.exe or winnt32.exe in unattended mode on the PCs you want to upgrade.

The rest of the options listed here require an understanding of Group Policy and Active Directory functions. Microsoft recommends these guides to prepare you for the implementation plans below:

I recommend the following TechRepublic articles by Jim Boyce to put things in terms that we techies understand:

Multiple Installations using a distribution share—The Update Method. SP2 includes the Windows Installer Package (update.msi), which can be used to roll out the software via “Intellimirror,” a.k.a. group policy. Microsoft advises using a computer policy—user policy will not be supported. Using a machine-assigned method prevents registry backup errors that cause installation failure. Share should be created using the same method as applied in the Integrated Install, steps 3 through 5 above. Be careful to do this by containers, so as to avoid taking your network, and your servers, to their knees.

RIS Installation. RIS Installation is supported by SP2. Remember that this is going to overwrite the hard drive. Back up files before deploying images. To upgrade via RIS, update your image via RIPREP.exe, add it to the Images tab of your RIS server Remote Install properties, and deploy via AD as a normal computer policy.

RIS explained

If you are unfamiliar with this feature, let me explain what it does. Remote Installation Services (RIS) is a Microsoft “imaging” package that works with AD, DHCP, and DNS to allow you to remotely install Windows operating systems. PCs to be upgraded must be booted via Network Service Boot. This is usually done with a function key that’s pressed at POST, and in some instances a user may be prompted by the RIS server to press the function key again. Here are some things to consider before implementation: RIS supports only single-partition images. You must have PXE-compatible NICs with .99c or greater ROM or a RIS boot disk. (A RIS boot floppy can be created from the RIS server by running the RBFG.exe utility.) For information on setting up RIS server, read the Step-by-Step Guide to Remote OS Installation.

SMS Installation. Last but not least, SMS 2.0 also supports the SP2 upgrade. Older versions of SMS do not. You can follow normal SMS deployment steps. A sample definition file is on the CD: Support\Tools\W2ksp2.sms.

If you haven’t tried one of the Windows 2000 automated installation methods, you aren’t taking advantage of some of the key features that made most of us want to upgrade from NT 4.0. Even small organizations can benefit from the time saved by deploying software in this manner—and you’re guaranteed to learn a lot about your OS in the process.

How do you deploy Service Packs?

We look forward to getting your input and hearing about your experiences regarding this topic. Join the discussion below or send the editor an e-mail.