Learn Windows XP Professional in 15 Minutes a Week: Upgrading to Windows XP Professional / Installing Windows XP Professional via Remote Installation Services

Thursday May 9th 2002 by ServerWatch Staff

Jason Zandri's latest article in the Learning Windows XP Professional in 15 Minutes a Week series covers how to setup a Remote Installation Services (RIS) server in order to deploy Windows XP Professional via RIS as well upgrading from older operating systems to Windows XP Professional.

by Jason Zandri

Welcome to this week's installment of Learn Windows XP Professional in 15 minutes a week, the fourth in this series. This article covers how to setup a RIS server in order to deploy Windows XP Professional via RIS as well upgrading from older operating systems to Windows XP Professional.

Upgrading to Windows XP Professional

Before we get started with a direct upgrade to Windows XP Professional we need to know which operating systems support a direct upgrade.

Windows XP Supported Upgrade Paths

The following direct upgrade paths are supported by Microsoft and are considered viable for both the Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home operating systems.

Microsoft Windows 98

Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition

Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition

Windows XP Home Edition Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Home Edition Upgrade Version
Windows XP Professional Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Professional Upgrade Version

Microsoft Windows NT 4.0 Workstation

Windows XP Professional Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Professional Upgrade Version

Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional

Windows XP Professional Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Professional Upgrade Version

Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition

Windows XP Professional Retail (Full) Version
Windows XP Professional Upgrade Version

All Versions of Windows NT 4.0 require Service Pack 5 to be installed prior to upgrading to Windows XP.

Currently, there are no supported direct upgrade paths for the following Microsoft operating systems:

Microsoft Windows 3. x

Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 Workstation

Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 Server

Microsoft Windows NT 3.51 Server with Citrix

Microsoft Windows 95

Microsoft BackOffice Small Business Server

Having this information available or knowing where to look it up is important before you get started.

[NOTES FROM THE FIELD] - I often get the question, "how do you know all of this stuff", when I am working with desktop or system admins. The truth is, I often do not know the information off the top of my head. Sometimes I do, and it is often due to the fact that many people throughout the course of the year come to ask me different questions, and because many of them are repetitive, I often have immediate recall of them. Many times, (more often than not) I don't remember the answer, but I have a vague idea of where I looked it up when I was asked it before and I head right back to the source to get the information again. Half of the "battle" is knowing where to look up the information when you need it. If you can do that, you're ahead of the game and ahead of most other people you might work with.

Once you are certain that the operating system you're currently using can be directly upgraded to Windows XP Professional, you then need to be sure that the installed system hardware meets the minimum Windows XP Professional hardware requirements by verifying all of the hardware is on the Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) at the Microsoft website.

Windows XP Professional supports only the devices listed in the HCL. If your hardware isn't listed, contact the hardware manufacturer and request a Windows XP Professional driver.

Support means that while the operating system may load and run on unsupported hardware and software, any issues that come up with the system will not be covered (i.e. supported) by Microsoft Technical Support if you should need to engage them.

You can test the computer for compatibility by using the Windows XP Professional Compatibility tool. During a system upgrade you will see the option for this on the introductory screen. (You can also run the tool from the command line by typing <CDROM DRIVE>:\i386\winnt32 /checkupgradeonly. You can perform just the check and then exit the tool without installing the operating system, if you wish.)

If you have AUTORUN enabled on your system the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP setup screen will appear, as shown below:

The Windows XP Professional Compatibility tool can be run by selecting Check system compatibility and then "Check my system automatically".

If any issues are found they will be reported in the Microsoft Windows Upgrade Advisor Compatibility window.

During an OS upgrade on a system with pre-installed software, you can use upgrade packs to make the existing software compatible with Windows XP Professional. Upgrade packs are usually available from the appropriate software manufacturers. You can also get updated setup files from Microsoft during the upgrade installation if you are connected to the internet.

As time passes from the point of original software distribution, (many vendors often call the first official release of a software platform as a GOLD distribution) many files may be updated before a second edition of the software (such as Windows 98 Second Edition) or a service release (Office XP Professional SR1, for example) is distributed. Dynamic update allows you to do this as you start your installation. You can also elect to not perform it during the installation if you wish to run it a later time.

Performing the Upgrade Installation

The next point of the Upgrade installation is the setup type. Even though you are actually already within an existing operating system, you are not forced to upgrade to the new operating system. You can choose the option to perform a clean installation at this point. (The default recommended option is Upgrade, as shown above.)

The next page is the License Agreement, where you will need to click I Accept This Agreement, in order to continue.

Next, you will need to enter your 25-character product key on the product Key page.

The next phase from here will vary slightly depending on whether you are upgrading from a Windows 9x system, where you will be asked whether you want to upgrade to the NTFS file system from your FAT or FAT32 partition, or if you are upgrading from Windows NT4 (and are therefore already using NTFS), you will see the Upgrading To The Windows XP Professional NTFS File System page.

After you choose how you wish to handle the file system upgrade, setup will continue, reboot the computer and finish the upgrade of your system on its own.

Installing Windows XP Professional via Remote Installation Services

In order to install Windows XP Professional using the Remote Installation Service, you must install the RIS on a Windows 2000 server (either Server, Advanced Server or Datacenter) using the Remote Installation Services Setup Wizard. The server can be a member server or a domain controller -- it doesn't make a difference; however, the following services must be present on the network in order to use RIS:

DNSRIS relies on the DNS service for locating both the directory service and client computer accounts.
DHCPThe DHCP service is required so that client computers that can receive an IP address.
Active Directory        RIS relies on the Active Directory service in for locating the RIS servers.

The shared volume where the RIS data is installed cannot be on the same drive that is running Windows 2000 Server. The volume must be large enough to hold the RIS software and the various Windows XP Professional images that are installed and that volume must be formatted with the NTFS 5 file system.

You begin the RIS server setup by logging on to the server with an account that has administrative permissions and then going to the Control Panel and selecting Add/Remove Programs. From here you will need to choose Add/Remove Windows Components and make sure that you have either the Windows I386 directory available for the installation or the Windows 2000 Server CDROM.

In the Add/Remove Windows Components window, select Remote Installation Services.

From this point, the remainder of the installation is automatic. (If the I386 source files cannot be found the system will prompt you to locate them.)

When the installation is completed, you'll need to restart your server to configure your RIS services.

You need to go back into the Control Panel and choose Add/Remove Windows Components again in order to start the configuration. (You can also type RIsetup from the run line or a command prompt as well.)

Click on Configure to begin. This will launch the Welcome to the Remote Installation Services Setup Wizard, as shown below. (The window below is the first thing you will see if you choose to type RIsetup from the run line or a command prompt.)

Once you continue you will be prompted with the default Remote Installation folder location of D:\RemoteIstall. You can elect to keep the default path or browse to a new location.

The volume you opt to use must be large enough to hold the RIS software and the various Windows XP Professional images that will be installed, and the volume must be formatted with the NTFS 5 file system.

By default, Remote Installation Services servers do not respond to requests for service from client computers. There are two settings available to use on the server.

If you select the "Respond to clients requesting service" option, Remote Installation Services is enabled and will respond to client computers requesting service.

Additionally, if you select the "Do not respond to unknown client computers" option, Remote Installation Services will respond only to known (prestaged) client computers.

You will also need to provide a name for the Windows installation image folder, as well as a friendly description for each image you install on the RIS server.

The last step the wizard performs is actually a series of events, as outlined in the image above.  Once the final step is completed, the setup wizard starts the required services for RIS to run. The server is complete at this point and will service client requests for CD-based installs.

Additional details of RIS configuration and administration from this point forward actually goes beyond the scope of what is required for installing Windows XP Professional CD-based installs via RIS. For additional information on RIS for Windows XP Professional, you can visit the Microsoft Website.

Starting the RIS Client

Client computers that support remote installation must either meet the Net PC specification (which is, effectively,  a system which can perform a network boot) or have a network adapter card with a PXE boot ROM and BIOS support for starting from the PXE boot ROM.

Some client computers that have certain supported PCI network adapter cards can use the remote installation boot disk as well.

This support is somewhat limited and can only be used with certain motherboards, as the BIOS settings for booting the system from the network need to be configurable.

The RIS service provides the Windows 2000 Remote Boot Disk Generator if your system does support starting from the PXE boot ROM. You can create a Remote Boot Disk by typing <DRIVE LETTER> RemoteInst\Admin\i386\rbfg in the RUN box or at a command prompt. (The drive letter is the drive where you installed the RIS services and will vary from server to server.)

The boot disk simulates the PXE boot process on your system when your network card does not have the required PXE boot ROM for a RIS installation. (Again, only a small number of PCI network cards currently support using the Remote Boot Disk. This includes mainly 3COM and a small cross section of other major vendors.)

The user account used to perform a RIS installation must be assigned the user right of "Log On as a Batch Job". The users must also be assigned permission to create computer accounts in the domain they are joining if this has not been done ahead of time. There are other factors as well, such as prestaging a client. For the purposes of this overview, we will go through a "plain vanilla" RIS installation from a boot floppy.

When the client system starts from the boot floppy you would press F12 when prompted to boot from the network.

The Client Installation Wizard will start and you will need to supply a valid user name and password for the domain you're joining as well as the DNS name of the domain. Once this is done you can press Enter to continue.

You are then given the option of performing an Automatic Setup, Custom Setup, Restart a Previous Setup Attempt, or use the Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools installed on the RIS server. You would choose one of the options and then press Enter.

The next screen will show a number of RIS images (including the default CD-based image) that you can use. (The number will depend on what has been placed on the server by the administrator and whether or not you have the proper access permission to read them.) Choose an image and then press Enter.

You will be presented with one last opportunity to verify that the settings are correct. Once you're sure that they are, you would press Enter to begin the RIS installation. When it is complete, Windows XP Professional will be deployed to the client system and available for use upon restart.

Well, that's a wrap for this week.

In next week's installment I will go over Troubleshooting the Windows XP Professional Setup.

Until then, best of luck in your studies and please feel free to contact me with any questions on my column and remember,

"If you allow a bad guy to upload programs to your Web site, it's not your Web site anymore."

Jason Zandri


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