Symantec Ghost, Sysprep, and Windows Activation

JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
Posted this in H/A. Really should have posted it here, I guess.


Really simple question for someone who knows.

I'm about to capture a master image off of a laptop with some training software. I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing with Symantec Ghost and Sysprep.

So I set Ghost to run Sysprep. There is an answer file for Sysprep. Is this the file that tells the image what things to reinstate on the destination machine after the image is created? In that case I assume things like License Key and Computer Name should be left blank if I'm planning on multicasting this model image to multiple laptops at once.


Second, I have 14 laptops, and 14 windows license keys. Is there a way to automate the installation of those 14 keys to the 14 machines? Or should we have had a volume license key to do this sort of job? If I have to image the machines then type 14 license keys into the laptop afterward, I won't die. I'd just rather not do it.

That's about it. Thank you for the help.

JamesKeenan on

Posts

  • Nigel BreeNigel Bree Kaiwaka, New ZealandRegistered User new member
    edited August 2013
    You got some good advice in the other thread, but just to amplify a couple things.
    In that case I assume things like License Key and Computer Name should be left blank if I'm planning on multicasting this model image to multiple laptops at once.
    Yeah, that's right. If you use the Ghost Solution Suite management console, things like the Computer Name, domains to join and perhaps pieces of network configuration could be applied to a newly-cloned machine several ways depending on whether you were even using Sysprep at all; in general though, if the tool that the management system runs to apply a configuration to a machine detected a Sysprep.inf or Unattend.XML file there, it would not apply the settings itself but edit the INF/XML for you to get the OOBE process to apply the settings configured in the GSS console (because the OOBE part of Windows that Sysprep triggered otherwise would erase those settings).
    Second, I have 14 laptops, and 14 windows license keys. Is there a way to automate the installation of those 14 keys to the 14 machines? Or should we have had a volume license key to do this sort of job? If I have to image the machines then type 14 license keys into the laptop afterward, I won't die. I'd just rather not do it.
    That's a pain because it depends on what the license keys are. Long story short there's no automation for this in Ghost, and VLKs are generally the way to go but there's a story behind that.

    Part of Microsoft's arrangements with manufacturers for OEM keys (the ones that tend to come with the CoA sticker on the side of a machine) was that those license keys could only be used with an OEM-specific build of Windows, and those OEM-specific builds of Windows would in turn generally check the SMBios data at boot to ensure they were running on the OEM's hardware.

    For people using generic Windows with Microsoft keys (i.e., most places with a lot of machines), none of this mattered since they just used VL. It was only the smaller customers (typically <30 seats) that wanted to use OEM keys; VL and/or academic pricing was good enough that anywhere bigger decided OEM licenses would cost them more time than the money they'd save.

    The small sites that wanted to deal with OEM keys then also had the problem that they had to wrangle the OEM-specific builds of Windows they were invisibly tied to, and even then there was the problem of getting those keys and then reapplying them (and not just for Windows, our customers wanted us to be able to wrangle Office as well).

    Now, Ghost had been cancelled (both consumer and business) in 2004, but when Ghost was uncancelled in early 2006, we were given 9 months to make GSS 2.0 to hit the Vista release to business in December 2006 and one of the things we looked at was the changes to activation from XP to Vista and whether we could harvest OEM keys and reapply them, and we did figure out roughly how we could harvest them. However, we really weren't confident enough in how Microsoft were adjusting the Vista activation procedures - we had to complete GSS before Vista actually released - to reapply the keys after imaging without Sysprep (since you really didn't need to use Sysprep with Ghost Solution Suite for most things) and since we were also horribly understaffed after having Ghost cancelled in 2004 eventually we backed off rather than create a Sysprep-only process. We did intend to revisit that later, but since our staff and budget pressures only got worse from then until the studio was closed in 2009, we never ended up with any automation for this.

    - Nigel

    Nigel Bree on
  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    That's amazing, Nigel. Thank you so much for the reply. Everything worked out just fine with only a little extra work.

  • Nigel BreeNigel Bree Kaiwaka, New ZealandRegistered User new member
    No problem; happy to help with any questions particularly on the multicasting side if you end up doing that. I didn't do the initial work on GhostCast - it was what I'd been originally moved over from another business to Binary Research in 1997 to work on, since the guy who was working on it had been stuck for a long time, but he got unstuck soon thereafter. But I was still the main network-protocol guy there and thus ended up having to do the maintenance and support on that part of the product once a lot of the other original developers left during the two years the product was cancelled the first time.

    Since I'm here now, a point of general relevance to Penny Arcade is that actually, a lot of big commercial software is really not all that different to a lot of game development once you peel back the smoke-and-mirrors illusion of corporate branding. It was odd watching how public perception of Ghost changed over the years through the acquisition and as it grew as a Symantec-branded product (despite no marketing effort, and management from CEO John Thompson on down not wanting to even be in our business and just using the product as a cash cow). People think of corporates like Symantec as giant faceless sausage factories, but in the main each of the business lines within the corp functioned behind the scenes much more like studios, largely doing their own thing and with their own people and personalities and ideas - it's just that their rules of public engagement made it hard for the staff in the studios to communicate directly with customers and so unlike gamedev it was hard for customers to see and get to know the developers behind the products as people, which is a great shame.

  • JamesKeenanJamesKeenan Registered User regular
    I definitely understand that. I'm current operating sysadmin for a company that develops some decently un-sexy software. Small company, so it isn't as "corporate." But I can't imagine it would be that different.

    And these guys so far are some of the coolest, nerdiest people I know. A shame, really, that the developers for things like Ghost will probably have the same TARDIS bobble figures on their desk, work 12hr days voluntarily to get a certain feature working or find why data's flowing through one stream when it should be going through another.

    All to hear later how they're just part of the corporate empire. Or something. Faceless automatons feeding some fat cat's pockets.

Sign In or Register to comment.