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ZFD3 Imaging: Friendly computer naming with ENGL's Zcnc

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Heath Upton

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Posted: 25 Oct 2000

With the arrival of ZFD3 and AWI (Automatic Workstation Import), the laborious task of creating and maintaining workstation objects has become a thing of the past. A ZFD3 NetWare or NT server can not only dynamically create a workstation object in a specified container, the server can also be configured to remove workstation objects throughout the tree if they have not been used for a period of time. This is a truly awesome feature that would make the hardest of ZENworks 2 administrators weak at the knees!

Add the AWI technology to imaging and newly restored machines can be up and running, automatically having a workstation object created for you - thanks to the abilities of ZFD3 imaging and a feature that can manage the creation of unique computer names, everything should be bliss.

Unfortunately, a lot of companies we're working with have a problem with randomly created computer names. Their administrators find them meaningless and would rather see a machine's serial number or asset tag in NDS instead. This is now possible to achieve using some cunning ("as a tap dancing oyster" - thanks Blackadder!), Imaging, an application object and a free utility named Zcnc!

What's Zcnc

Zcnc is a free of charge customizable computer name changer written for use with ZENworks for Desktops 3 Imaging. However, it can also be used in non-ZEN environments. In addition to the title and prompts being fully customizable, an input mask can be specified to 'force' the user to enter numbers and characters in a specific sequence and syntax.

If the data the user enters doesn't match the input mask you've specified, an error will be displayed.

Zcnc can also extract the machine's serial number as long as the Microsoft WMI agent is loaded, which comes installed with Windows 2000.

Example Procedure

This is a procedure that demonstrates one of many ways to use Zcnc to name your workstation. In this case we're prompting the user for an asset tag.

Note: Please use this procedure only in a test environment.

  1. Download your free of charge copy of Zcnc.exe from
  2. Configure a DNS entry for 'zenwsimport' pointing to the server running the AWI Java Import process.
  3. Configure the AWI Import policy:
    • To import workstations using the Computer Name only.
    • To create the workstation after 1 user login
  4. In your test container, ensure that NALEXPLD is running from the login script.
  5. Install your favorite operating system, let's say Windows 98. Ensure that the image has the ZFD3 compatible client installed (3.3 for Win9x and 4.8 for WinNT/2000) and contains a HOSTS file with the following entry:   localhost   zenwsimport

  6. Test it by issuing a ping command to zenwsimport. It's critical that the ping is sent to for this process to work, this stops the workstation registering via AWI on the first login.
  7. Copy Zcnc to a path on the local workstation.
  8. Using the Linux boot diskettes, create the image on the image proxy server.
  9. Create an Application object named 'ChangeMachineName' and associate it with your test user and set it to auto-run. Beneath the Run Options, specify the following:

    Path to executable file: \Zcnc.exe
    Parameters: /remzen /m:UKnnnnc /reboot:10

    If the target platform is Window NT/2000, set the Run Environment option to 'unsecure system user' to allow Zcnc rights to change the computer name.

  10. Save the application object.
  11. Restore the image to a test workstation and login as the test user.
  12. After the login, you will be prompted to enter a machine name, type in a new computer name and click OK. Your entry must begin with UK and proceed with four numbers and one letter, otherwise an error will be displayed.
  13. When Windows re-loads the workstation will have the new computer name. Logging in once more will cause the workstation to register via AWI and create a meaningfully named workstation object in NDS.

Downloading Zcnc

Zcnc is Open Software, which means it's free of charge for you to use in your organization. Download instructions and updated documentation can be found at:

About ENGL

ENGL is a Novell strategic Business Expert Partner, specialising in cross-platform Directory managed business solutions, providing consultancy and development services. If you have any queries or suggestions, please send them to

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