Would you be willing to spare 15 minutes per week to pass your
Windows 2000 MCSE upgrade exam?
That certainly doesn't sound too tough. Welcome to my first article in what will be a weekly series aimed at current MCSEs preparing to write the 70-240 Windows 2000 upgrade exam (though anyone writing the 4 core exams will find it useful). The idea behind this series came from discussions with many of my corporate students, who were balking at pursuing the new certification because of the amount of time and effort involved. What I'm here to tell you is that as both a trainer and consultant, I understand how difficult it is to find the time to put into preparing for exams - especially if you're interested in having something that vaguely resembles a life outside of work! I know you don't have time to sit down and read 3 or 4 books, so here's what I'm going to do. Every week I'm going to write an article that maps to a particular exam topic from 70-240. I am not going to bombard you with details, but instead provide the most important facts, as well as links to more comprehensive articles on a topic-by-topic basis. The idea is that if you prepare a little at a time, it won't hurt so much, and within a few months you'll be ready to write (and hopefully pass!) the exam. I think you can handle reading a few pages a week. Remember, the idea is to get you prepped - with me helping by doing some of the legwork for you!
The first topic that we're going to take a look at is the Installing Windows 2000 Professional. I know this immediately appears to be a 'skip this' topic, but installation options in Windows 2000 have changed significantly, and it is something you'll need to know for the exam. The items we'll cover in this article include:
- Meeting Upgrade / Hardware Requirements
- Standard Installation Options
- Imaging Windows 2000 Professional
- Unattended Installations
- Remote Installation Services
- Deploying Service Packs
Meeting Upgrade / Hardware Requirements
The following operating systems can be upgraded to Windows 2000 Professional:
- Windows 95 (all versions and OSRs)
- Windows 98 (all versions and OSRs)
- Windows NT 3.51 and 4 (with or without any service pack)
The following are the minimum hardware requirements:
- P133 Processor
- 32 MB RAM (64 MB recommended)
- 2GB hard disk with at least 650 MB free space.
Welcome to my first article in what will be a weekly series aimed at current MCSEs preparing to write the 70-240 Windows 2000 upgrade exam (though anyone writing the 4 core exams will find it useful).
Would you be willing to spare 15 minutes per week to pass your
Windows 2000 MCSE upgrade exam?
Standard Installation Options
Windows 2000 Professional still allows you to do plain-vanilla installations. That means we can install from the setup disks, CD-ROM, or off the network. Important stuff you should know:
- There are now 4 setup disks instead of 3. These are no longer created using winnt32 /ox. The CD now includes a Bootdisk directory, where you can find both makeboot.exe and makebt32.exe to create the 4 disks.
- If your system BIOS supports booting from CD, you still don't need the disks.
Installing over the network still only requires that the i386 directory be shared from a distribution point. Note that if starting an installation from a system running 95, 98, (as well as NT or W2K) or higher we now use Winnt32.exe. Winnt.exe with DOS, older Windows or no OS.
Imaging Windows 2000 Professional
Windows 2000 Professional 'officially' supports the use of third-party tools such as Ghost or DriveImage to create binary disk images. In the past imaging was relevant, but we needed to change the computername after imaging, and then use a SID-changing utility to erase and recreate the identifier. Windows 2000 provides a pre-imaging utility to help make the process much easier called Sysprep. (found on the CD in the support\tools directory in a file called deploy.cab). Without going in a tremendous amount of detail, first you create your desktop build, configure it exactly as you want it including software and settings, and then run Sysprep.exe. This will remove the SID and other unique system settings. Now you're ready to use Ghost or your favorite disk-imaging tool to create an image.
After you deploy the image to other machines, a mini setup program will run asking you for information such as a unique computer name, company name, product ID and so forth. If you find answering the majority these questions over and over too much trouble, you can create a file called Sysprep.inf using Setup Manager, a tool we'll look at soon. The SIDs will be recreated after system startup, and you're off to the races. Two important or interesting things regarding Sysprep:
- A Sysprep switch, -pnp, forces the system to detect plug-and-play compatible hardware on the target systems. This is especially useful if your hardware (such as video cards) is not identical.
- The follow up note on this: you cannot place an image created on a system with one HAL or disk controller on a system with a different one. For example, an image created on an ACPI-based system will not function on an APM system. Need more detail? Find it here.
If you were a Windows NT pioneer, or handled deployment on systems with different hardware, you might remember that before we had the luxury of imaging all of our identical systems, we could take the time to create an unattended installation. After all, an installation was only a series of questions to be answered, right? The problem was creating those darn unattend.txt files, and those who had a fear of anything without a GUI avoided them like the plague. Well, Microsoft came up with a solution called Setup Manager. While this tool also existed in on the NT 4.0 CD, it is now a little friendlier and has other uses. Setupmgr.exe (also part of deploy.cab) is a GUI-based program that allows you to create new or edit existing answer files. All you do is plug in the 'answers' and Setup Manager pumps out the text file for you - no more worrying about whether your format is good or not. Setup Manager is also important because it can also create a Sysprep.inf file, which can be used to answer the questions asked by the mini-setup program after using Sysprep with an image. Finally, Setup Manager can also be used to create answer files for a RIS-based installation. Initiating an unattended installation isn't much different than in the past. It is worth reviewing the syntax to the /u and /unattend switches for winnt.exe and winnt32.exe respectively. And yes, UDF (uniqueness database files) files and records still exist.
Remote Installation Services
Another new feature in W2K is the ability to deploy Windows 2000 Professional (and only W2K Pro!) using a Windows 2000 Server service called Remote Installation Services or RIS. RIS is Microsoft's answer to remote automation of OS deployment. A number of services must be on the network and client prerequisites be met in order for RIS to function correctly. Necessary network services include:
- DHCP (gives client an IP address)
- DNS (to allow client to query Active Directory)
- Active Directory (tells client where to find RIS server)
If the DHCP server is running on Windows 2000, note that the server must first be 'authorized' as a valid server in Active Directory or it will not function. The DHCP server is authorized via the DHCP Manager tool.
Of course, Remote Installation Services must also be installed on a Windows 2000 server in the network. Important things you need to know about RIS:
- RIS requires its own dedicated NTFS partition to function correctly, and it cannot be the Windows 2000 System or Boot partition. Microsoft recommends a minimum of 800MB to 1 GB of space on this partition, since it will hold the Windows 2000 Professional images.
- While using Risetup.exe, you will be asked whether you want to RIS to respond to all client requests, or not to unknown computers. If you choose the second option, only pre-staged computers will be answered (This will be discussed in a moment), and no other machine will be able to obtain an image from this server!
- RIS will automatically create a default Windows 2000 Professional image called a CD-based image, and will prompt you for the source files. In reality, this is not really a disk "image" but rather an automated unattended standard W2K Pro installation.
- The RIS server must also be authorized in AD in order to respond to client requests. This is also accomplished via the DHCP manager tool.
This will be the only image that exists on the server unless you create others. In order to create other images, you need to first create your desktop build, complete with applications, configuration and the like (just as if you were creating an build to image with Ghost). After this is complete, you need to run Riprep.exe on the system to create the image. Riprep.exe can be found on the RIS server. The path:
You do get to choose the RIS server on which you ultimately want to hold the image, as well as a friendly name for the image itself. Riprep.exe performs a similar function to Sysprep.exe, in that it removes the SID and other setting that must be unique once the system is deployed. Again, you can use Setup Manager to create answer files that will automatically answer the questions asked (For the sake of knowing, these answer files can ultimately be restricted with NTFS permissions, which allow you to control who can access the particular image.).
Wow, RIS is a big topic - but so far weve only looked at the server side. There are, however, also requirements for a RIS client. First and foremost, the client must support booting from the network via a PXE Boot ROM (Pre-boot execution environment). All is not lost if your network card doesn't support this, however. You can create a Remote Installation boot floppy from the RIS server by running Rbfg.exe. This tool will create a network-bootable RIS floppy disk - the only problem is that many cards are not supported, so you'll have to check the driver list. When the client does boot, remember that it will not have an OS (or may have one not functioning), and will be trying to obtain one from the network. After the system obtains an IP address, it will prompt the user to hit F12 to contact the RIS server, and the process has begun.
Need more detail? Find it here.
Deploying Service Packs
Anyone who has spent time in the field supporting Windows NT 4.0 knows the horror of dealing with service pack upgrades. Not only did you need to deploy the service pack, but then go back and reapply it if you added a new service from the original source files! Windows 2000 takes care of this using an idea called slipstreaming. Using slipstreaming, you can deploy Windows 2000 using service pack-updated source files. To update the source files you would use the update.exe /s command, specifying the location of your Windows 2000 source directory. Since the actual source files are updated, you no longer need to worry about adding services after a service pack upgrade. If you have already installed Windows 2000, you can simply run update.exe manually, and then update the source files via slipstreaming for future use.
That pretty much covers the basics of installing Windows 2000 Professional. Next week's article will focus on topic 2: Implementing and Conducting Administration of Resources. Since this is my first article, I am very interested in any feedback you might be interested in providing, or answering any questions you might have about the series. Also be sure to check out my website at http://www.win2000trainer.com/ - it contains free online Windows 2000 exam preparation tests, as well as links to free hardcopy books and other useful resources. I look forward to my next article, and hope that you find this series to be a useful resource. Until next week, happy trails!