3COM Makes RIS a Viable Tool - Page 3

 By Jerry Honeycutt
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Put It On a Disk and Deploy It

A few examples will show why RME is a must-have addition to RIS:

  • Deploying Windows NT with RISYes, you can. Set up your share and create your answer file. Create a boot disk that logs on to the network, maps the installation share to a drive letter, and then run Winnt.exe from the i386 directory. You'll want to test the boot disk in your lab to make sure it works properly. Once you can use that boot disk to install Windows NT automatically, you're ready to create a boot image file from it using RME. Make sure you add this boot image file to the Automatic Setup menu in CIW.

  • Scanning for viruses with RISInclude a virus scanner on your boot disk, and then add the command that runs the scanner to the boot disk's Autoexec.bat. You can add to the boot disk the files required to log on to the network, and then direct the scanner's output to a network share, allowing you to see the results remotely. Once you've tested that the disk works in the lab, use RME to create a boot image file from it and add the menu item to the CIW's Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools menu.

  • Installing Windows 2000 Service Pack 1Once again, share the service pack and then create a boot disk that logs on to the network and runs Update.exe. After you've verified that the disk works properly, create a boot image file in CIW's Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools menu.

  • Upgrading a computer's BIOSUpdating a computer's BIOS unattended can be a bit tricky and requires testing in your lab. Make sure that the BIOS updater is capable of running unmonitored; some aren't. To be cautious, you might also test that the BIOS updater fails properly when you try to update the wrong BIOS. Once you've created a boot disk that successfully updates the computer's BIOS, create its boot image file in the Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools menu.

If all this is sounding a bit repetitive, well, it is. The idea here is that you can use RIS to deploy anything you can put on a disk. If the disk works as planned when you start a computer with it, then you can create a boot image file from that disk. Once you've created the boot image file, you can deploy it using RIS.

Final Thoughts on RIS

Prior to RME, my opinion was that RIS isn't ready for prime time. It's not a tool that can efficiently deploy 10,000 desktops, and it's not flexible enough to support the needs of anything but the simplest deployment requirements. My opinion of RIS changed only a little after learning about RME.

RME solves the flexibility problem. With RME you can use RIS to deploy anything you can put on a boot disk. That's handy.

It doesn't solve the efficiency problem, though. RIS still offers no capability to optimize bandwidth (as does, for instance, Norton Ghost's multicast feature). It also offers little or no ability to manage and schedule deployments, relying on an actual person sitting at the client computer to kick things off. Thus, RIS is still little better than walking around the office with a stack of floppy disks in your pocket. And RIS still supports limited infrastructure and won't even talk to laptop computers.

With that said, here's the bottom line:

  • As a secondary deployment method, or in small to medium-sized businesses, RIS is a workable solution that beats passing around the boot disks.

  • As a primary deployment method or in large businesses, I wouldn't kick something like Norton Ghost out of the bed just yet. RIS isn't sophisticated enough to support large-scale deployments.


Jerry Honeycutt is an author, speaker, and technologist with over 25 books to his credit. He successfully uses RIS in his own small office.

This article was originally published on Oct 7, 2000
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