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Ghostbusters, Part 4

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Vivek B M

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Posted: 11 Jun 1999

Doug B. of Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, offers this new spin on the machine re-imaging (Ghosting) ideas we've shared over the past few months in From The Trenches. This is the latest in a series of outstanding Community contributions about machine re-imaging. Here they all are, in case you missed them.

#1 -- Using an Application Object to Re-image a PC. From Henry Snyder, (Germany). This is the one that started the whole discussion.

#2 -- Ghostbusters Part 2 From Ben C.,(Australia). He suggests you store the ghost image on a local hard drive, which you've cleverly partitioned for this purpose.

#3 -- Ghostbusters Part III From Joop and Remon, (Netherlands). They like to use Symantec's Ghost Multicast Server, and tell you how it works like a charm for them.

#4 -- Ghostbusters Part 4. The one you're about to read, from Doug B., (USA). He creates several different baseline ghost images, and lets people mix and match his baseline images and snAppShots to get the combination they need.

Hi, I'm a contractor for the US Government. I've read Ben and Henry's solutions to the machine re-imaging problem that has been puzzling quite a few of us and I have yet another solution. My solution takes a modular approach. In a similar manner to the other solutions, I can use NAL to ghost the machine with a baseline Windows 95 Ghost image (use Henry or Ben's method -- whichever you prefer). Then I use NAL to install the software that I need.

The beauty of the modular approach is that one of my field techs, or even end users, can reinstall a single application package without re-imaging the entire machine. All they need to do is verify the package install within NAL. In addition, we save disk space because storing four baseline Win95 images at 120 MB apiece plus 100 MB of snAppShots and MSOffice installation files takes less than 600 MB of space. And storing four fully-configured images takes at least one GB. The more images I have, the more space I save.

Here's how I do it:

  1. I install Win95 on a given machine type and load the Microsoft client for NetWare networks. This is the basic configuration for this particular kind of machine.
  2. I make an image of this and name it something indicating the machine type: Toshiba 110CS laptops are TOS110.GHO, for example.
  3. Once I have this baseline configuration, I reboot, log in and run the following batch file:


This uses the Automatic Client Update mechanism to install the latest Novell client using our standard configuration. The client gets installed and the machine reboots. When I log in again, NAL loads from the login script and our virus protection software gets installed as a force-run, run-once application object.

We have five other packages, each represented as a different application object, that we can install to any of our machines:

  • basic Win95 configuration and desktop items
  • mainframe access
  • dial-up e-mail access
  • LAN e-mail access
  • MS Office 95.

The first four were created with snAppShot. This allows us to configure the software exactly how we need it and not have to worry about people in the field misconfiguring anything. The last one, MSOffice, runs the installer using a standard batch install in quiet mode.

It takes slightly more time to do this than just Ghosting the machine, but the result is much more stable machines that are much easier to support. The extra time spent now will pay off big in the future.

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