Wednesday, November 22, 2006

RIS Setup on Windows2003 Server

So, we currently have a RIS server setup on Windows2000, its now very out of date, the base image has only got XP SP1 on and I cant see anyway I can just upgrade it, we can only ris clients from the subnet the servers on, and we needed to run the DHCP service on the server.
So we decided to create a new Windows2003 based ris server. This is what I had to go through to get it working:

•First of all I needed a copy of Windows XP with service pack 2 on it, to use as my XP base image on the server. There's quite a good web site about it here

Basicly you copy the contents of the XP cd to your hard disk, extract the sp2 download to your hard disk (xpsp2.exe -x:c:\sp2), then run the update app in the i386\update folder of the extracted sp2 and point it to your original xp file. Then you'll have a nice and up-to-date copy of Windows XP. Copy it onto cd or a server assessable by the new ris server


• Now just install the RIS service through the control panel/Add remove programs/Windows Components. Then you should get a Remote Install service under admin tools. Before running that you need to Authorize the RIS server on the domain. You do this (for some reason) using DHCP manager. See the Microsoft article here. Once you have authorized the server, run the new RIS setup application, point it at your new xp setup files and you should have the RIS server ready to go.


• The next thing we needed to do was not run the DHCP server on the same server as RIS, and get ris working across subnet's. When we first installed ris I couldn't find any way of doing this, but I have this time!

There are 2 scope options you can set in DHCP:
066 - Boot Server Host Name (Basicly the TFTP server the client will use)
067 - Boot File name (the file to use on the server to boot the PC)

Set the boot server host name option to be the IP address of the ris sever (give the server a static address) , and set the boot file name to be OSChooser\i386\startrom.com

Add these options to each DHCP subnet you want to use this RIS server on and the PXE clients should be able to find the RIS server and its boot file.

• Now one of the most tricky parts. Adding 3rd party drivers to the base image so that a) the basic RIS setup program will run, and b) the Windows XP setup will run.
We did most of the hard work with this when we setup the old RIS server. The best article I found on it is here. This article basicly says copy certain driver files to certain parts of the folder structure, and update your .sif file to look for the files in these location. When we did this originally we had to manually hack the drivers inf files to get them working on Dell GX270's and 280's but I don?t think that's required anymore. If you need the drivers email me and I can send you them.


• At this point you should be able to now boot your client pc, and it should pick up the ris server and boot from it (as long as you have setup the DHCP options for the subnet your client is in).
Before doing this I copied in the existing ripref.sif file from the old server, as this contained all the options about joining the domain, the product key ect. Its probably worth sorting this file out before doing an install or the install will ask you questions and it still wont be unattended There are various sources on the web that will tell you about the settings, or use can use the RIPrep wizard, as described here

• Something that I never came across on the Windows2000 RIS was it failing to join a domain (if you set that option in the .sif file) If this happens you might have to run the delegate control wizard at the root of your domain in active directory users and computers. Just add the domain admin's and any other groups that will be RISing, and make sure they have the ability to add computer accounts to the domain.

• The final problem I came across was when I pushed an image back to the server. It went back no problems, so I copied into the templates folder of the new image what i thought was a good .sif file.
When I then tried to use the new image, i kept getting an error saying
'txtsetup.sif is missing or corrupt. Error 21'
I had a look around for this error and it turned out the problem was with the .sif file I had copied in. There were some new options in the [OSChooser] section, that the image needed to find the original mirror. So I re-created my new image, and instead of copying the good .sif file over the one it created, I just added all the sections I needed to this one.

That was it, took me a few days to get it working correctly but its definitely worth it in the long run, when you have 150 machines to setup!

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