In the course of evaluating Drive Image Pro 4.0, I tried many times to make a working network boot disk. Finally, I figured it out. For those of you unfamiliar with network boot disks and with Drive Image Pro’s tools, in this Daily Drill Down, I offer the instructions PowerQuest should have written.
What’s Drive Image?
PowerQuest’s Drive Image is software for disk imaging and writing software that competes with products such as Symantec’s well-known Ghost. These software solutions let you manage the deployment of operating systems based on images you create. If you have many computers needing deployment, enterprise versions of the software allow you to write your stored images over a network to many computers simultaneously. Otherwise, you can image or deploy one computer at a time, either stand-alone or networked.
Based on my evaluation so far, Drive Image is a good solution, though it isn’t as comprehensive as Ghost. Nevertheless, both products have their quirks. For this Daily Drill Down, the Drive Image quirks that concern me have to do with creating a network boot disk.
Network boot disk overview
If you’re not very experienced at disk imaging, the process can be tricky. Drive Image operates in DOS mode. In order to image to media over a network or to copy an image to a disk over a network, you need to use a network boot disk. This disk starts MS-DOS (or in the case of Drive Image, Caldera DR-DOS) and loads all the drivers necessary to configure a network interface card in DOS. From there, you map the drives you need to access using the Net program.
After mapping network drives, you remove the network boot disk and replace it with a floppy containing Drive Image. Once you start Drive Image, you’ll be able to access those mapped network drives for your imaging operations.
Remember that you’ll be booting to the network from the machine whose drive you want to image (or deploy images to). At the risk of stating the obvious for more experienced users, consider that your network boot disk needs to use drivers for that machine’s network interface card (NIC). If you have a mixed bag of computers, as I do, you’ll need to make a different boot disk for each machine you want to image.
First things first
Before you can get started creating your network boot disk, you’ll need to complete a few tasks. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call the machine containing the drive to be imaged the source and the machine on which you will store the image the destination.
- Visit the Web site of the manufacturer of your network card and download the latest complete set of drivers. Often, one self-extracting executable will contain drivers for all supported operating systems. Keep these in a folder on a machine that your Drive Image installation can access. You’ll need them when you run the Network Boot Disk wizard. Depending on your network, you may need NetWare as well as DOS drivers.
Have you forgotten what brand of network card you have? Go to your Device Manager (Windows 9x/Me/2000) or to your Network applet in Control Panel (Windows NT) and look it up.
- Before you can make a Microsoft TCP/IP boot disk, you’ll need to install Microsoft network client files into Drive Image. These files are on the Windows NT 4.0 Server CD. Either have the CD handy or copy the Client’s directory to the machine where you installed Drive Image.
- If you didn’t add the Microsoft network client files when you first installed Drive Image, go to your C:\Program Files\PowerQuest\Drive Image Pro 4.0\BDBUILD directory and run the batch file GETMSLAN.BAT to add these files to Drive Image.
- Know whether your network uses static IP addresses or DHCP addressing. If the source machine uses a static address, write it down and keep it handy. You’ll also need to know your subnet mask. For NetWare networks, know the name of your preferred server and your context, if necessary. You may also need to know your frame type.
- Have available your source machine’s logon information, including ID, password, and domain or workgroup.
- While you’re still in Windows, test to confirm that the destination machine is accessible over your LAN. If it isn’t, now’s the time to get it set up. This machine won’t be running Drive Image. Rather, it will just be running Windows and making its drives available for storage.
- Confirm that the destination machine has enough space to hold the source machine’s drive image.
- Make sure there’s a network share on the destination you’re allowed to access with your account.
- Create a set of Rescue disks using the Create Rescue Disks program. The Drive Image Pro application will be on disk two.
- Have a few formatted floppy disks handy.
- Finally, in a command prompt or MS-DOS prompt, try typing the following command to map the destination computer.
Net use H: \\computername\share
Or your might try
Net use H: \\computername
When you create a boot disk, the wizard will force you to map a drive. Knowing the form of the UNC name that will work may help you avoid some hassles later on. If it doesn’t, don’t worry; there are other solutions.
Creating the network boot disk
Once you’ve gathered the information and drivers you need and you’ve tested your network, you’re ready to create a Drive Image network boot disk.
To run the Boot Disk wizard, choose Start | Programs | PowerQuest Drive Image Pro 4.0 | Boot Disk Builder (or use whatever path you set up when you installed Drive Image). Now, choose the type of boot disk you want to build. You can build four types of disks: PowerCast, standalone, NetWare, or Microsoft TCP/IP. Only the NetWare and Microsoft boot disks enable you to access destination machines over the network. In this exercise, I’ll build a TCP/IP boot disk (Figure A). PowerCast is the enterprise system that Drive Image Pro uses to simultaneously deploy one image to many client machines.
|You can create either NetWare or Microsoft TCP/IP boot disks.|
Figure B shows the information to be entered in the TCP/IP Settings Screen.
- Enter your username.
- If you want to use the automatic login, select Login Automatically and enter a password. If your information fails, you’ll have the option to enter it manually.
- Enter either a workgroup or a domain to log in to.
- Map the UNC path to your destination machine, such as \\mike2 or \\mike2\C:\images.
|At this screen, enter your TCP/IP information.|
For building a NetWare boot disk, the procedure is similar, except that instead of a workgroup or a domain, you enter the letter of the First Network Drive and type in a Preferred Server. You may also enter a Name Context in this screen.
In the Boot Disk Builder wizard, you must map a machine to a network drive to continue. There’s no choice to skip mapping and no choice to map more than one drive. Once you boot to the network, however, you can use the NET command to map more drives or to change your drive mapping assignments. In other words, what you do here doesn’t matter as long as you fill in something.
On the following screen, you need to enter whether you’ll run Drive Image Pro from a boot disk or from a directory on your machine, or whether you’ll opt not to run Drive Image Pro. Though it makes no sense at first, select Do Not Run Drive Image Pro (see Figure C).
This choice isn’t adequately explained. If you previously made a set of rescue disks, as you should have when you installed the program, disk two already has Drive Image Pro on it. If you choose Run Drive Image Pro From | Boot Disk, you’ll be prompted to make yet another floppy with the program on it. You don’t need it.
|Choose Do Not Run Drive Image Pro, even though you will eventually run it.|
This option is also handy if you’d like to make a set of network boot disks just for general hardware and network troubleshooting.
This is where your preparation pays off. The next screen asks you to select your network adapters (Figure D). Drive Image Pro installs with 13 choices. Unfortunately, yours is probably not one of them.
|You’ll probably need to add your own network drivers.|
To add your driver, click Add; a few well-documented screens walk you through the process. First, browse to the folder where you set up your network drivers and point the wizard to the NIC’s .INF file. On the following screen, select the adapter from the list that’s generated. If you’re new to this, you may notice there’s more than one .INF file. Which one do you pick? Often, selecting the right .INF file is a matter of trial and error, and frequent use of the Back button.
Next, point the wizard to your NetWare DOS driver file. This file will have an extension of .EXE or .COM. Look for a NWCLIENT subdirectory. If you don’t have one, other choices for folder names may be NetWare or NetWareDOS.
Now, you’ll need to install a Microsoft NDIS2 DOS driver. NDIS stands for Network Driver Interface Specification. This file will also have an extension of .EXE or .COM. Look for an NDIS or NDIS2 directory and then click Finish to add your NIC to the list of available network adapters.
If you forget you’ve added an adapter and add it again or if you add updated drivers, tough luck—the adapter will display twice on the list. There’s no way to rename adapters on the Select Network Adapters screen, and there’s no way to delete one. In the case of identical names, the most recently added adapter appears on top. If duplicate names really bug you, here’s how to try to remove them. Browse to folder C:\Program Files\PowerQuest=Drive Image Pro 4.0\BDBUILD\INI. The active list of drivers seems to be stored in file DRIVERN.INI. Carefully remove that list and its corresponding information. Note: Do this at your own risk.
Select your adapter from the list and click Next. On the following screen, select Obtain An Address From A DHCP Server or Specify An IP Address. In the case of a static IP, add your address and your subnet mask. Click Next.
You’re almost there. Now you get to choose the type of disk you want to build. The default option is a floppy disk in drive A:. Other options are to Copy Boot Disk Contents To A Folder and Make A Virtual Boot Disk. Leave the default settings and click Finish.
You would choose Copy To A Folder for distributing boot files so that others could make their own floppy disks or using the boot files to make a bootable CD-ROM. Virtual boot disks allow machines to reboot hands-free and are used for performing Drive Image tasks. Drive Image tasks are outside the scope of this Daily Drill Down.
You’ll be prompted to put a formatted disk into drive A:, and you’ll be warned that all data will be erased. The wizard then copies the files and information onto your network boot disk. Label it carefully so that you know which computer it’s for and click Exit to leave the wizard.
Using your boot disk
I ran across a few quirks when running my boot disk. To help you avoid the same problems, here is what I found. Place your network boot disk in drive A: and restart your computer. A batch file will run that initializes your drivers.
If you receive a message that drivers failed to initialize or load, you’ve most likely chosen the wrong drivers and you’ll need to re-create your boot disk. You may have used the wrong network boot disk in your machine (remember that machines with different adapters need different boot disks).
If all goes well, you’ll be asked to confirm your username or type in another one, i.e.
Type your user name, or press ENTER if it is MJACKMAN:
Next, you’ll be prompted for your password. Once you enter it, you’ll have the option of creating a password-list file. Choose Y or N.
Here’s one of the first quirks I encountered. The batch file then tries to map the drive you gave. I consistently received the following error:
The syntax is incorrect.
For help, type NET USE /?
The most likely cause of this error is a problem with the UNC name that the batch file is passing to the NET command. It’s likely you’ll have this error. One of the problems of using a command line is that if you type anything incorrectly, it won’t work. Here’s the easiest way to solve this problem:
- At the prompt, change to the A:\NET directory by typing CD A:\NET.
- Run the net command by typing NET [Enter].
- A Disk Connection screen will appear. Tab over to Browse and press [Enter] (see Figure E).
|Run the NET command to browse and create network connections.|
- In the Show Shared Directories On window, use the up and down arrow keys to highlight a machine to map to and press [Enter].
- Tab over to the Shared Directories screen (the bottom screen) and use the up and down arrow keys to highlight a share within that machine to map.
- Press [Enter] to return your selection to the previous screen and press [Enter] again to accept your mapped drive.
The NET command itself is a little quirky and may not always see your networked shares. On one of my laptop test machines, the GUI interface hung, probably due to video adapter incompatibilities. If that happens to you, reboot and start over. Or you can use the NET command from the command line.
Here’s how to connect network shares at the command line:
|Type NET VIEW at the command line to see a list of accessible machines.|
You may receive the following message when trying to use NET VIEW:Error 6118: The list of servers for this workgroup is not currently available.
If you’re sure you used the correct workgroup, user ID, and password, and you’re sure those machines are accessible to you, it’s time to recheck your NIC drivers. If you had more than one choice for an .INF file, try using the alternative file. In addition, try the NDIS instead of NDIS2 driver. Finally, check your vendor’s site for updated drivers or a support note about Drive Image.
|Type NET VIEW followed by a machine’s UNC name to view a list of shares.|
NET USE * \\machine\share
The asterisk (*) tells NET to map the share to the next available drive. For example, Figure H shows the results of mapping \\mj-parsifal\data. Note that NET assigned the share to drive C:.
|Net use can map a share to the next available drive letter.|
You can map as many network shares as you have available drive letters to assign to them. Any time you want to review your list of mapped drivers, type NET USE without any parameters. You’ll see a screen similar to Figure I.
|Net use can also show you a list of your mapped drives.|
Once you’re satisfied you have attached to the network resources you want to use for destination machines, you can remove your Network Boot Disk. Next, place disk two of your Drive Image Rescue Disk set your source machine’s drive A:, type PQDI, and press [ENTER]. Drive Image will start with the network mappings you created in this process.
Creating a viable Network Boot Disk using Drive Image Pro’s Boot Disk Builder wizard involves working out a few documentation and program quirks. The Drive Image Web site doesn’t have many technical notes for this process, and the documentation is too generic to be helpful. I’ve tried to fill in the gaps with this Daily Drill Down. If you persist, you’ll find the results well worth the headaches. When you finish creating your boot disk, you’ll be able to use it for more than imaging. You’ll be able to troubleshoot that machine and the network, and of course, you’ll be able to image your source machine to any shared destination drive.
The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.