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Ghost Busters, Part 2

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench

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Posted: 4 May 1999

Ben D., Sydney, Australia, wrote: Hi I am a contractor with Sydney's Department of Public Works. I have a similar solution to Henry Snyder's but, I think, a little bit cooler.

A few problems with Henry Snyder's way are:

  1. Network bandwidth gets a hammering whenever a ghost image is copied over the network.
  2. Not every PC in an organization is identical.
  3. It takes up a lot of room to store all those ghost images on the file servers.
  4. Ghosting over the network is a bit slow.
  5. My process is not nearly as complicated.
  6. I don't need a ghost user login.

The secret: You simply store the ghost image on the local hard disk! Don't laugh yet.

I partition the hard disk into two partitions --a c:drive and a d:drive. The ghost image and ghost.exe gets stored on the d:drive.

Using ZENworks downloaded policies, users can't see the d:drive (second partition). The NAL object only copies one autoexec.bat file down to the PC, then asks for a reboot. The autoexec.bat calls ghost.exe and reloads the ghost image from the second partition, then automatically reboots back to the original working image. No logging in over the network, no bandwidth problems, no worrying about which image is being copied, no server storage space used up, it's much quicker to ghost locally than over the network and this method is far less complicated.

Here are the things to look out for. D:drive has ghost.exe and rebuild.gho. All the ghost images are named exactly the same. e.g. D:\rebuild.gho. Each machine has its own unique ghost image on the d:drive from its original build. Novell's automatic Client update will update the Client if this process is done after a long time. Windows NT can be done as well if it is built on a fat16 partition and the modified boot.ini is copied down as well as the autoexec.bat.

One thing people may point out is that if there is a hard disk crash and the whole disk is lost, you lose the ghost image. Not us. We buy about 20 identical machines at a time. If one hard disk goes there are 19 copies around the place. Hard disks are so big these days and with all user data on the servers, what's a few hundred MB stored on the d:drive anyway? (You can keep a copy backed up if you really want to.)

Here are the two files you'll need to create:

Autoexec.bat (for Win3.1, 95, 98, NT)

  • CLS
  • D:

Boot.ini (for Windows NT)

  1. [boot loader]
  2. timeout=0
  3. default=C:\
  4. [operating systems]
  5. multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\ WINNT="Windows NT Workstation
  6. Version 4.00"
  7. multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\ WINNT="Windows NT Workstation
  8. Version 4.00 [VGA mode]" /basevideo /sos
  9. C:\ = "Microsoft Windows"

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