Windows Connected has six useful tips for admins dealing with Vista’s new imaging technology: Script Everything, Automate Your Installs, Virtual Machines make it easy, Minimize Drivers in your reference Image, Keep a build document, Hardware.
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I, mostly, agree with everything, except for the “script everything” advice. If you are working for a big company, and can concentrate on writing deployment scripts, then you might agree with this recommendation. However, if you are responsible for other areas, too, then you probably won’t have the time for writing scripts.
I, also, doubt that scripting reduces the number of mistakes, as Josh states. It is the nature of any kind of program code, to be prone to error. The less code is involved the fewer mistakes, you can make. It is one of the biggest advantages of imaging technology that you don’t need to work so much with scripts as with unattended setups.
That’s why I would replace this tip with another one: Add as much applications to your master image as you can. Software deployment is time consuming and usually error-prone. If you can’t install some applications to all of your desktops then better work with multiple images. Since you can now create images in a virtual environment, for example with VMware Workstation, it is much less time consuming than with Windows XP.
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First, create an image containing the applications and settings that all your machines need. Then, you clone this image with just a mouse click to prepare those images for special purposes.We have been working with a similar technique since the first availabe imaging tools. In my view, it is much less error-prone and time consuming than any script-based deployment method. Now, with Vista’s new imaging capabilities it is even easier.