Tips for a PXE cloning rookie?

By lfruchter ·
Hello Sages,

I'm an over-worked, under-educated tech coordinator at an under-funded public school. I've screwed around until now imaging our workstations 1 or 2 or 3 at a time with shareware programs on CDs and external hardrdives. Now like manna from heaven, I've got over 100 new laptops, most without CD drives and I've got to get them cloned so that they can be used on our network. It's got to be time for me to step up to PXE network cloning, right?

I don't trust myself to do this over our actual school network so I want to set it all up with a separate server and switch disconnected from everything else but these laptops. I'm hoping some of you kind savants can let me know if the following plan is a good one.

1) Configure my master laptop just how I like it, join it to the school network, make sure everything works right and then "unjoin" it from the network.
2) Set up the fastest spare machine I have (an old Dell PowerEdge 400SC?) with my only server software, Win2003.
3) Connect the server and the master laptop with a crossover ethernet cable.
3) Use a free program like ReDoBackUp to boot the master laptop and create an image of it on the server. Disconnect the master laptop from the server.
4) Download TFTPD32 and install it on the server to make it my PXE server.
5) Take 1 laptop of the same model as the master and connect it to the server with a crossover cable.
6) Follow the directions laid out for TFTPD32 here
7) Boot the laptop to the PXE server and see if it is clones correctly.
If Step 7 goes well, connect 15 other laptops of the same model to the server via regular ethernet cables and a 16 port switch.
9) Boot the 15 laptops to the PXE server and let them cook overnight.
10) Jump for joy and repeat Step 9 until all laptops are cloned (or add more switches and clone more machines simultaneously).

-- Is this the right idea?
-- Is TFTPD32 what I think it is, a server that will let me clone multiple machines simultaneously? Will it work with an image made from ReDoBackUp?
-- If I don't actually connect this whole setup to my network, do I need to bother with all the precise IP address details when cloning? Can I make up an IP address for the server and just let it clone from there?
-- Am I crazy to think this is it? Do I need to learn what SysPrep is/does?

Thanks for any and all insight,
Lev in Brooklyn

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