Deploy XP Images in the Computer Lab with Windows Deployment Services on Server 2003 (PART II)

Posted on May 6, 2011



2. Configure client to boot from network card (PXE boot) and prepare the client machine for imaging with Sysprep

PXE (Preboot eXecution Environement) works with the network interface card (NIC) in the PC, and makes the NIC a boot device. It allows the client PC to boot from the network. The client PC will boot from the network by receiving a “boot image file” from the WDS server.

To configure your client PC to boot from the network card, access the computer’s BIOS. 

The BIOS is accessed by entering a key during power up. The keys vary by computer model and brands, but F1, F2, F12, DEL, and ESC are common. You may have to google your computer model to get the proper key.

In the BIOS control panel, locate the menu for changing the startup sequence. Set the first boot device to the Nic card. In the screen pic below, it is a PXE menu item, on some motherboards the choice may be ‘LAN’ or something similar.

Prepare the client machine for imaging with Sysprep.

Sysprep prepares a computer for imaging by removing unique Security Identifiers (SIDs) and providing automation and control to the unattended installation process. You must sysprep in order to image a computer to the WDS server.

Create a folder in the root of the C: drive called sysprep: C:\sysprep Put the Windows XP CD in the CD ROM.

Navigate to the Support\Tools folder, extract “Deploy” and put the contents in the C:\sysprep folder.

In the sysprep folder double click “setupmgr.exe” to create a new answer file for an automatic installation on Windows.

Select Sysprep setup > Windows Xp professional > Accept terms of agreement and then fill in the rest of the information such as product key, computer name, administrator password, domain info, default settings, etc. When you are finished, save the answer file.

Windows will use this file to automate the installation. In the sysprep folder, double click the sysprep.exe file. Sysprep prepares a system for duplication by removing the original SIDs (Security Identifiers) in the image. During installation, a Mini-Setup routine creates a unique SID for each destination computer. Tick the box “Use Mini Setup” and click the “RESEAL” button.

The computer will shutdown. It is ready to be imaged to the WDS server on the next restart.

3. Capture Sysprepped XP Image to WDS server

Reboot the client to the network card. When prompted, press F12 to initiate the PXE boot process. The computer then proceeds to contact the WDS server and boot the client. Choose to start the XP Capture Boot Image.

Specify the location of the Windows installation to capture.

If you did not sysprep your installation image, you will not be able to select a volume to capture. Go back and sysprep the image. If you sysprepped, then select the volume to capture, fill in the other fields and click next.

Choose where you would like to store the image.

Initially, the image is built and stored locally on the client. When it has finished building it will be automatically uploaded to the WDS server. Choose a build destination on the local drive and name the image. Check the box to upload the image to the WDS server. Enter the name of the server and click connect. Select the image group name and click Finish.

The image capture completes.

After the image uploads to the WDS server, click close. Open the WDS management console and verify that the image is in the “Install Images” folder and in the proper image group. In this example the DellGX620 image is in the Computer Lab Desktops group.


We are done capturing and uploading an image to the WDS server.

4. Deploy image from WDS server to client.

PXE Boot the client you wish to image.

In the Windows Boot Manager choose “XP Deployment Boot Image” (or whatever name you chose for it in step one.)

Fill in the appropriate responses in the windows that follow, regarding keyboard / locale options, user / password, OS to be installed, location to install, etc. Windows will then begin installing the image.


After the image installation procedure completes, the computer will reboot and Windows setup continues.

Finally, Windows starts up and you are DONE !

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