April 5, 2008 10:11 PM   Subscribe

I have a "perfect" MS Vista setup that I need to clone or deploy to another 20 computers. The hardware is identical and it all needs to be done in a hurry.

In the old days I would have copied hard drives by hooking up the next drive to the second IDE controller. Then I would have used my trusty copy of Norton Ghost to copy from one disk to the other.

Ideally I would like to create some sort of bootable image that I can run off a USB hard disk and just tweak at the end. We have volume licencing on MS Vista and on Office 2007 and the other specialist software that I need to install.

My questions are: what is the best way (- and step by step instructions please)? And what is the cheapest way (-licenses etc)? Bonus points if I can deploy to the older machines in the company that have different hardware components.
posted by chairish to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Why cant you use Acronis True Image?
posted by jak68 at 10:38 PM on April 5, 2008

There's probably better ways, but you could use a linux livecd and the dd command. Here's a tutorial.
posted by beerbajay at 1:20 AM on April 6, 2008

jak68 - doesn't Acronis True Image only work to backup / restore one computer? True Image Server looks just a bit expensive. Or am I looking in the wrong place?

beerbajay - looks doable, but a bit tricky!
posted by chairish at 2:30 AM on April 6, 2008

Never used it myself, but does Clonezilla Server Edition ( supposed to be a free version of True Image Server/Norton Ghost) help?
posted by Boobus Tuber at 2:50 AM on April 6, 2008

I like beerbajay's idea of booting to a liveCD, but instead of using dd, it might be easier to take an image with partimage, then deploy it to the machines. Here's a tutorial.
posted by riverrun at 4:55 AM on April 6, 2008

If you can network them, use UDPcast. I use this to deploy identical XP images to a series of laptops. It's multicast, so you can get all the receivers set up and they can all get the image from the sender at the same time. Fast.

I use my trusty Ultimate Boot CD for this, which has UDPcast and lots of other essential utilities on it.
posted by eafarris at 7:44 AM on April 6, 2008

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008

1) Capture image
2) Setup WDS
3) Network deploy via PXE boot

Get the quick start guide, you can be up and running inside a couple of hours. A more complicated setup will probably take you a bit longer though. You can deploy and manage Vista and XP from Server 2003 for free using LTI (light touch installs). If you have System Center Configuration Manager 2007 or the older Systems Management Server 2003 you can make a ZTI (zero touch install) image instead.
posted by tracert at 7:46 AM on April 6, 2008

Here's a 30 minute screencast to get you going.
posted by tracert at 7:51 AM on April 6, 2008

Using identical hardware, Acronis TrueImage could do what you want, but it is not really intended for mass deployment (it's what we use at work).
I've never used it, but it appears Acronis Snap Deploy if for deployment purposes. It has a 15 day trial.
posted by jmd82 at 8:25 AM on April 6, 2008

vLite. Just build out the configuration you want, slipstream the updates, and build an unattended bootable ISO.
posted by mphuie at 11:45 AM on April 6, 2008

Also in the spirit of Linux, there's this. No idea how Vista handles "same-but-different" hardware though (as far as serial numbers) since I refuse to upgrade.

Also seconding vLite - it's saved me hours.
posted by ostranenie at 2:14 PM on April 6, 2008

Thanks for all of the suggestions. I'm going to start with Ping and cross my fingers madly. I might be able to save teh Acronis dollars and spend them on something else.
posted by chairish at 12:59 AM on April 8, 2008

>jak68 - doesn't Acronis True Image only work to backup / restore one computer?

yes - but - if you backup/clone to an external/usb hard drive, then you can 'restore' that image to any number of computers (so long as they have identical hardware).
posted by jak68 at 10:10 PM on April 8, 2008

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