Creating a reference image

Uploaded by itfreetraining on 24.08.2011

Welcome back to your free training course on Windows 7. In this video I will look at
how to make changes to the Windows 7 media. Changing the physical media allows you to
further customize windows so when you install windows it will already meet your needs. To
do this, you need to make changes the WIM files that Windows 7 uses to store the installation
files. WIM files, or windows imagining format, is
a file format used by Microsoft to deploy operating systems like Windows 7, Server 2008
and windows Vista. If you have used imagining software before to deploy windows it was probably
sector based. Sector based imaging takes a copy of the physical sectors on the hard disk
so it can be copied to anther computer. The problem with this approach is it is difficult
if not impossible to makes changes to the image once it is created.
WIM files in compassion to a sector based format are file based. This means that you
can extract as many or few files from the image file as you want. With Windows 7 each
copy of the windows DVD contains all the editions of Windows 7. These editions even though they
have different features share many files. Duplicated files are stored in a single instance
reducing the overall size of the DVD. This is why so many different editions of windows
can be installed on the same DVD. Unlike sector based image formats, WIM files
are hardware independent. You can customize your widows install any way you want, capture
the changes and then deploy them on a different system. The files can even be changed after
they have been created and even mounted as a drive letter under windows explorer. If
you want to add additional files or updates it is easy to do.
Lastly when you deploy a WIM file it can be done in a non destructive way. This means
that when you deploy an image on to any existing hard disk, any files that you have all ready
exist on the hard disk will not be over written. To start deploying windows you first need
to create a reference image. On this reference image you install updates and additional drivers.
You can also customize the install the way you want. For example, you can add shortcuts
to the desktop and start menu. If you company has a particular way they want the desktop
and start menu you can change the reference image to look like this. You can also do things
like add and disable features. Remember that when you create a reference image it does
not have be from a clean install of windows. You may have 100 of new laptops you need to
deploy. On one of these laptops comes a lot of trail software that you don't want. With
imaging technology, you only need to remove the trial ware on one computer and then deploy
it to the rest of the computers. There is only one problem with this approach. The computer
name and the security settings will also be captured and transferred to the new computer.
To prevent this from happening we can use a tool called SysPrep.
SysPrep removes the unique settings on a computer and this allows you to deploy it on many computers.
Firstly SysPrep removes the sid's. The Sid's or security identifiers are unique security
codes that are used in account security. If two computers on the same network have the
same SID's they essentially have the same security accounts. Next SysPrep removes the
device hardware ID's. Essential when the computer starts back up it will use plug and play to
redetect all the hardware on the computer. This allows you to use the same image on many
computers even if the hardware on each computer is different.
Lastly SysPrep removes the computer name and any domain membership. This prevents the problem
of deploying two computers on the same network with the same name. Let's have a look at how
to set up a computer and then use imagex and SysPrep to capture it.
On this Windows 7 computer, I have installed the MS Office viewer software and added the
shortcuts on the desktop. Now that I have completed the customization for Windows 7
I want to capture this computer so it can be deployed on anther computer.
To do this, I need to run SysPrep. To do this, I need to open a command prompt from the start
menu and then change to the SysPrep directory which is located in the system 32 folder under
the windows directory. Once I launch the SysPrep executable, I can
decide which action I want to perform. The default action is out of the box experience.
This will start the computer up with the welcome screen. The user will be asked some initial
configuration options. If you select the option system audit mode, the computer will boot
up in audit mode. In audit mode the welcome screen is not shown. This gives you the opportunity
to make additional changes to the image before you hand the computer over to the user.
When the computer boots into audit mode, the default administrators account will be enabled.
You can make changes using this account. When you have finished make the changes, run SysPrep
again and select out of the box experience. When the computer reboots the user will be
presented with the windows welcome screen and the default administrator account will
be disabled. If you are planning to use this image on anther
computer you will need to select generalize. This option will remove the unique settings
from the computer like the security id's and the computer name. You only need to do this
when you are planning on duplicating the image to anther computer. If you are switching from
audit mode to out of the box mode you will not need to select this option if it has been
selected previously. Lastly you can choose what to do when SysPrep
is finished. Either quit, restart or shutdown. SysPrep does take a few minutes to run. In
most cases I would select shut down or quit. The reasons being that if the computer reboots
and you miss the reboot, the system will start up again and the welcome wizard will run.
In this case, I am in front of the computer so I will make sure I don't miss the reboot.
Once I press o.k. SysPrep will start preparing the computer to book into out of the box experience.
I have put in my windows PE boot disk in the c d drive to boot off once SysPrep is complete.
If you do not have a windows PE boot disk you can refer to our previous video on how
to create one. SysPrep does take a few minutes to complete
so I will pause the video and return once it has complete and Windows PE has booted.
Now that my computer has rebooted into windows PE, I can map a drive to a server. On this
server I have copied a number of tools used in imagining. The one I am going to use in
this case is imagex which is included with the windows AIK.
Windows will map the drive starting from the last available drive letter which in this
case is Z. From the z drive I can now run imagex with the following parameters. The
first is capture. You can also use imagex to apply an image that you have already captured.
Next you need to enter in the hard drive you want to capture. In this case windows PE has
made the windows drive the d drive. Depending on what hard drives you have in your system
will determine which drive letter it will be, so it is best to check first to confirm
which drive windows PE has made your operating system.
Next I need to enter in the location to save the WIM file. Just to prove a point, I will
save the WIM file to the same drive as I am capturing. Unlikely sector based imaging software,
imagex works on the file level so you can save the WIM file on the same hard disk that
you are capturing. After I have finished the capture I will move the WIM file to the network.
The next parameter I can enter is a name for the image. One WIM file can have many different
images. For example, if I wanted to create a new image with MS Office installed rather
than the viewers, I could remove the viewers and install MS Office. After I have completed
this, I can run Windows PE again and run imagex again. The next time I still enter in the
same WIM filename but change the description. Both the images will be saved in the same
file. The advantage is that only the changes will be saved with the second image. Any duplicates
files found, the second image will reference the first image rather than adding the files
to the image again. This makes WIM files very efficient and keeps the size down.
After the name I can add the option compress. I will set this too fast. You also have the
option maximum but this will increase the time taken to capture the image. Lastly I
will add the option to verify the image after the capture. Since this image is going to
be used on a number of computers, it is a good idea to check to see if there were any
problems with the capture before deployment. Imagex will now capture my windows install.
Since I ran SysPrep before the capture, when the image is deployed the computer will run
the welcome wizard and act just like it was just shipped from a factory and taken out
of the box. Notice also by default, certain files are excluded from the capture process.
Files in recycled bin and temporary files are skipped. Files like the page file are
also skipped, but these will be recreated when windows starts up for the first time.
The image will now be captured and stored on the locate hard disk. Before you start
deploying this image you may want to perform maintenance on the image. That is, you may
want to add additional drivers and updates to the image. In next video, I will look at
how you can keep your images up to date and increasing the life span of these images.