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Here's my situation: We upgraded our lab with 10 new Dell laptops and a ten user volume license key for Vista. Unfortunately, when you order a site license with new computers, Dell doesn't install the OS for you.

I'd like to figure out the easiest way of installing and configuring Vista as well as other programs. I'm assuming that I will have to create some kind of image of a configured computer and distribute it to all the rest of the computers.

My first question is what is the best way to create the image file? The Windows Automatic Installation Kit (AIk) seems to have some kind of mechanism for imaging a system, but I'm not sure if it images the whole system or not. Am I better off using a third party imaging program like Norton Ghost?

My second question depends on the first to some extent, but I'd like to figure out the easiest way of distributing that image to the computers. I know a little bit about the Windows AIK, but I'm not sure if learning it would be any faster than installing the image on each computer by hand. Does anyone have any familiarity with this kind of issue?

Thanks

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Last Post by pjhutch
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I have used AIK and it does image the entire system into a .WIM file using the ImageX program. Its free and WIM files are also used for WDS (Windows Deployment Service) which can be install on Windows 2003/2009 server for deploying images to PCs over the network, so no need for DVDs or USB drives.

If using WDS, it will only deploy the C: drive, but it can create empty additional partitions in its settings xml file. You can have a copy of the other drives on C: and get it it run a script from a sysprep setup to copy the files or folders needed to the other drives. We use this system for our student lab machines.

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I have used AIK and it does image the entire system into a .WIM file using the ImageX program. Its free and WIM files are also used for WDS (Windows Deployment Service) which can be install on Windows 2003/2009 server for deploying images to PCs over the network, so no need for DVDs or USB drives.

If using WDS, it will only deploy the C: drive, but it can create empty additional partitions in its settings xml file. You can have a copy of the other drives on C: and get it it run a script from a sysprep setup to copy the files or folders needed to the other drives. We use this system for our student lab machines.

Thanks. Unfortunately, we don't have a copy of Windows server. Is it possible to get and use WDS using a Linux server? I'm assuming it's not and a google search didn't turn up anything promising, but I thought I'd ask.

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