3COM Makes RIS a Viable Tool - Page 2

 By Jerry Honeycutt
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Creating Boot Image Files

RIS doesn't provide an operating system (OS) environment for you to run programs, so it has to download an OS to the client computer in order to start it. You include the OS in a boot image; along with any other files you need in order to start the computer and complete a task such as logging on to the network and running a setup program from it. MS-DOS is the likely OS for a boot image.

Boot image files are actually binary images of bootable floppy disks. They have the IMG file extension. RIS downloads the entire file to the client computer; the client mounts it as a virtual disk, and then boots it. Straightforward stuff, really. In fact, the first step in creating a boot image file is creating an actual, bootable floppy disk that you assemble and test to suit your needs. For Windows 2000, this turns out to be the most challenging part of the process, however. Windows 2000 provides no way to create a boot disk, and the operating system certainly doesn't have Windows NT's Network Client Administrator.

At a minimum, a boot disk will have the system files Command.com, Msdos.sys, Io.sys, Config.sys, and Autoexec.bat. You'll want to add any programs and drivers required to connect to the network. You might have an old Windows 98 boot disk or even an MS-DOS boot disk handy. If you don't have either, here are a few suggestions (some more elegant than others):
  • If you have a Windows 2000 CD handy, you can run Makedisk.bat in Valueadd\3rdparty\Ca_antiv. On the resulting disk, edit Autoexec.bat so that it doesn't start the virus scanner.

  • Use the RIS Boot Floppy Generator (Rbfg.exe) to create a boot disk, and then edit Autoexec.bat to start the computer properly. Rbfg.exe is the program you use to build RIS boot disks for computers that don't have PXE-enabled network adapters. You find it in the Reminst share.

  • Try the Web site http://www.bootdisk.com. It has links to dozens of different boot disks, including one for connecting laptops with PC Card network adapters to the network.

  • If all else fails, take a look at the Knowledgebase article Q119467 for instructions on manually creating a boot disk.

The second step is to take a snapshot of your boot disk with RME. That snapshot is your boot image file. In RME, you create the boot image file when you add a menu item to CIW. Click the tab that corresponds to the CIW menu you want to editMaintenance and Troubleshooting Tools or Automatic Setupand then click Add. Follow the instructions to create a single menu item and image file based on the boot disk you created. Here are more complete instructions for creating the boot image file from a bootable disk:

  1. Click on the tab that corresponds to the CIW menu you want to edit.
    • Automatic Setup is for boot images that automatically install an operating system such as Windows 98.
    • Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools is for boot images that run utilities such as virus scanners and BIOS update programs.

  2. Click Add to add an item to the menu.

  3. Click Single Menu and Image File, and then click Next.

  4. In the Friendly Description box, type a brief description of the boot image the way you want it to appear on the CIW menu. In the Help Text box, provide more information about the boot image. Click Next.

  5. On the Boot Image File dialog box, click Create. Insert the boot disk you created earlier in drive A, and type a name for the file in the Boot Image File Name box, and then click OK.

  6. Click Finish.

The result is your boot disk deploy through RIS. That is, rather than walking around the office, starting computers with a specialized boot disk in order to install Windows 98; you can do the same thing with RIS.

This article was originally published on Oct 7, 2000
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