3COM Makes RIS a Viable Tool

The inflexibility of Remote Installation Service (RIS) for Windows 2000 Server is only skin deep. With RME, you can use RIS to deploy anything you can put on a boot disk.

 By Jerry Honeycutt
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Remote Installation Service (RIS) is a Windows 2000 Server feature that allows a computer to boot from a network and then automatically install Windows 2000 Professional from it. RIS works well for companies that use Professional but not for those that use a variety of other desktop operating systems.

A well-known fact is that RIS can't deploy Windows 98, right?

RIS' inflexibility prevents most companies from adopting it as their primary deployment tool. As shipped, it only deploys Windows 2000 Professional. (The Knowledgebase article Q214794 documents a hack for deploying Server.) That leaves us with a long wish list, at the top of which is the ability to deploy Windows 98 and Windows NT using RIS. Somewhere in the middle of that list is the possibility of performing other maintenance tasks with RIS, such as booting from the network and automatically upgrading the computer's BIOS.

Inflexibility, it so happens, is only skin deep with RIS. RIS already gives us everything on our wish list; it just doesn't provide a user interface for them. It can deploy Windows 98, for example, but doesn't provide any way for you to add this operating system to the Client Installation Wizard. This is where 3Com's RIS Menu Editor (RME) makes RIS a more viable deployment tool. RME is the missing user interface for RIS, and we're going to show you how to use it. It's free, and it's at http://www.3com.com/managedpc.

Getting Started With RME

You can install RME only on a computer running Windows 2000 Server, and RIS must be installed on the server before RME can be run. These and about 1 megabyte of disk space are all you need in order to get going. Download RME101_install.exe from 3Com's Web site and double-click it to unzip it. RME doesn't have a setup program, so drag Risme.exe to the Start button if you want a shortcut on the Start menu.

RME is a simple program that's easy to use. The user interface is intuitive, with two tabs in the main window that correspond to the Automatic Setup and the Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools menus in the Client Installation Wizard (CIW). Adding an item to either of these menus is as easy as clicking the tab that corresponds to the menu you want to edit, and then clicking Add.

Once RME is installed, you must configure RIS so that the CIW displays the items you add to it. RME can change two RIS menus: Automatic Setup, which is for automatically installing operating systems, and Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools, which is for automatically running diagnostic and management tools. By default, RIS enables the Automatic Setup menu but not the Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools menu. To enable this menu so that the items you add are visible to users, you must allow it in Group Policy:

  1. In Active Directory Users and Computers, right-click the domain name located at the top of the left pane and click Properties.

  2. On the Group Policy tab, click Default Domain Policy and then click Edit.

  3. Double-click User Configuration to open it, followed by Windows Settings and then Remote Installation Services.

  4. In the right pane, Double-click Choice Options.

  5. In the Tools area of the Choice Options Properties dialog box, click Allow to enable the Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools menu.

You've installed RME. You've enabled the Maintenance and Troubleshooting Tools menu in CIW. All that's left is to add the images to RIS that you want to deploy. This makes boot image files the next topic to tackle.

This article was originally published on Oct 7, 2000
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