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Note: If you are testing SYSPREP that you should limit the total number of syspreps to 3 times maximum otherwise you may experience unusual problems.
To Sysprep a Vista Machine:
Open a command prompt and enter the following command to prepare the
machine for imaging.
c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /quiet /generalize /shutdown /oobe
Note At this point SYSPREP.EXE will now prepare the machine for imaging
and then shut it down when it has completed the process.
The /generalize switch is used to remove the unique information from the machine.
The /oobe switch is used to launch the mini-setup wizard the next time the machine reboots.
If you want it to automatically reboot after running sysprep, then change the code to this
c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /quiet /generalize /reboot/oobe
Sysprep can also be run in two predefined scenarios for system builders (cloning systems using imageX or Ghost or some other cloning software).
Those two scenarios are called BTP (Build To Plan) and BTO (Build To Order).
The BTP scenario allows you to create a sysprepped image to be used on identical hardware throughout a business/organisation, and to enable it do as follows:-
Install Vista, install any drivers and applications, then sysprep using the following:-
sysprep /oobe /generalize
Once the computer shuts down, clone it using your favorite cloning software solution or use Microsoft's own imageX to create a wim file, or alternatively capture the image to your own WDS server using PXE boot or a boot CD.
The BTO scenario allows you to customise an Vista image for one computer using a reference image (such as the one above). To use BTO simply get a Vista image installed on the box, then after it's installed run the following:-
sysprep /audit /generalize /shutdown
Once done, you can clone the image, and then test it. If you are happy with the applications/drivers/customisations then re-sysprep the image with
sysprep /oobe /shutdown
If you install Windows images by using sysprep /generalize /oobe, be aware that the user experience will not be ideal. On the next reboot after running sysprep /generalize /oobe, Windows will run the specialize pass, Plug and Play, and other Setup tasks before launching Windows Welcome. This process can take additional time and can delay a customer's first logon.
If you want to use the sysprep GUI, then click on start, and paste "c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe" into the Start Search input box.
Unattended Windows Setup Answer File
The unattended Windows Setup answer file, typically called Unattend.xml, is the answer file for Windows Setup that is created by using Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM). The answer file enables the configuration of default Windows settings, as well as the addition of drivers, software updates, and other applications. The answer file enables OEMs and corporations to customize Windows Setup tasks, for example, specifying disk configuration, changing the default values for Internet Explorer, and installing additional drivers.
The single answer file replaces all the answer files that were used in previous versions of Windows (Unattend.txt, Winbom.ini, Oobeinfo.ini, and Sysprep.inf).
Windows System Image Manager
Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) provides you with the ability to customize Windows images. Windows SIM enables you to customize the settings in a Windows image. Based on your configurations, you can create an unattended Windows Setup answer file, typically called Unattend.xml. This answer file is used during Windows Setup to apply your configurations to Windows. In the answer file, you can specify changes to default operating system components and add additional software, such as out-of-box drivers or product updates.
Limitations of Sysprep
Sysprep has the following limitations:
* You must use only the version of Sysprep that is installed with the Windows image that you intend to configure. Sysprep is installed with every version of Windows and must always be run from the %WINDIR%\system32\sysprep directory.
* Sysprep must not be used on upgrade installation types. Run Sysprep only on clean installations.
* If you plan to use the imagex /apply command to apply a Windows image to a computer, the partition layout on the reference and destination computers must be identical. For example, if you capture a customized Windows image on drive D, you must always deploy that image onto drive D of the destination computer. The following list describes the partition settings that must be identical across the reference and destination computers when you use the imagex /apply command.
o The partition number where Windows Vista is installed must match.
o The partition type (primary, extended, or logical) must match.
o If the partition is set to active on the reference computer, the destination computer must also be set to active.
o If you have another active partition for Bootmgr and BCD stores on the reference system, you must also capture this partition and apply it to the same partition on the destination computer.
This limitation applies only to the imagex /apply command. If you run Setup and reinstall Windows, you can change the drive letters where Windows is installed.
In some cases, customized applications that are installed before the Windows image is recaptured might require a consistent drive letter. Some applications store paths that include the drive letter of the system. Uninstallation, servicing, and repair scenarios might not function appropriately if the drive letter of the system does not match the drive letter specified in the application. Deploying customized Windows images to different drive letters is not supported.
The recommended practice is, if you are installing customized applications, to deploy your Windows image to the same drive letter.
* When you copy Windows images between computers, the reference and destination computers do not need to have compatible hardware abstraction layers (HALs). The /detecthal option in the Boot Configuration Data (BCD) will enable a system that has already run Sysprep to install the correct HAL.
* The Plug and Play devices on the reference and destination computers, such as modems, sound cards, network adapters, and video cards, do not have to be from the same manufacturer. However, the drivers for these devices must be included in the installation.
* You cannot automate the running of Sysprep by using a RunSynchronous command in auditUser configuration pass. You can automate the running of Sysprep only by using a FirstLogonCommand in the oobeSystem pass.
* The clock for activation begins its countdown the first time Windows starts. You can use Sysprep for a maximum of three times to reset the clock for Windows Product Activation. After the third time you run Sysprep, the clock can no longer be reset.
* ImageX, third-party disk-imaging software, or disk-duplicating hardware devices are required for image-based Setup. These products create binary images of a computer's hard disk and either duplicates the image to another hard disk or stores the image in a file on a separate disk.
* Sysprep runs only if the computer is a member of a workgroup, not a domain. If the computer is joined to a domain, Sysprep removes the computer from the domain.
* If you run Sysprep on an NTFS file system partition that contains encrypted files or folders, the data in those folders becomes completely unreadable and unrecoverable.
* Sysprep converts the %COMPUTERNAME% environment variable to uppercase characters. However, the actual name of the computer does not change.
* Running Sysprep will cause Windows Welcome to prompt you for a product key. You can use an answer file with Sysprep to prevent Windows Welcome from prompting you for a product key. If you specify a valid product key in the ProductKey setting of the Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup component during the specialize pass, then Windows Welcome will not prompt you for a product key.
For more info about sysprep in Windows Vista please look here and for details about what is different between sysprep in Windows XP and Vista click here.
Here's another good bit of info about sysprepping Vista.
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