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Using an Application Object to Re-Image a PC

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Henry Snyder

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Posted: 4 May 1999

I have set up an Application object that re-initializes a workstation's hard drive. After the the Application object runs and the workstation reboots, the whole hard drive is re-written with a predefined image that I've stored on the server.

To do the disk imaging stuff, I used a product called Ghost, which was recently acquired by Symantec® Corporation (, but you could just as easily use DriveImage™ from PowerQuest® Corporation (

Here's what I did:

  1. Copy the files necessary for the VLM client to the ghost directory on the APPLNCH volume. Include a basic copy of autoexec.bat and config.sys, which are needed to start and run the VLM client. The autoexec.bat should also log in with the username GHOST. For example:

    login ghost

  2. Modify a copy of the MSDOS.SYS file and make changes to the [Options] section. These changes automatically bring up the boot menu and wait five seconds before booting up to the command prompt. Copy this file to the ghost directory on the APPLNCH volume.


  3. Create an Application object that:

    * Copies all of the above files to the root of the C drive. Make sure that the settings for the MSDOS.SYS file are set to overwrite always.

    * Modifies the autoexec.bat file to add three lines at the end.

    These lines map drives necessary to get to the ghost application and image files and then start downloading the necessary image. Note that the %fileserver% variable is used to allow the object to be used in any container.

    j:\apps\ghost\ghost -clone,mode=load,src=I:\zengxa,dst=1 -sure

    Note: ?zengxa? is the name of the image. Any image filename can be used.

    * Modifies the NET.CFG file to replace the following lines:



    * Set the Application object to Distribute Always, Install Only, and Reboot Always.

  4. Associate the Application object with users, groups, or containers.

  5. Create a Ghost account without a password that has RF rights to the Ghost executable and image directories.

When the ghost Application object runs, the files to run the VLM client as well as updated autoexec.bat, net.cfg, and MSDOS.SYS files are copied to the local drive. The user is prompted to reboot the machine. When the machine reboots, the boot menu for Windows 95 displays for five seconds. After five seconds the machine boots to the command prompt and runs the autoexec.bat file. The VLM client starts, the workstation logs in as Ghost and maps drives to the ghost executable and images, and then the workstations runs Ghost to download the specific image.

Once Ghost is down, the user can reboot the machine for the new image.

You can also remotely image a machine by as scheduling the Ghost Application object to run using the scheduler, running it via Remote Control, or setting a Force Run.

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