I've been researching on the subject of workstation deployment for a while, and found a ton of info and dozens different methods and tools, but no "best practice" method that doesn't lack at least one feature that i consider required for the solution to be perfect.
I'm currently interested in windows workstation deployment, but if the tools can be extended to Linux, then it's an added value.
I want the deployment tools I use to be able to do the following:
- hardware independent - I want my image or installation to have a minimum of hardware and driver dependency, so that i can use a single image/package for all workstations
- easily updatable - I want to be able to update my image as easily as possible without redeploying/rebuilding/reimaging all configurations
- PXE bootable deployment - I want the tools to be bootable off the network so that I don't need a boot cd/DOK.
- scriptable for minimum human input - Ideally, the tool should run automatically after being booted and perform a "default" deployment (including partitioning) unless prompted otherwise. i.e - take a pc, hook it up, power on, PXE boot and forget about it until the OS is deployed.
I found no single product or environment that does all this. Closest i came to is the windows deployment services/WIM image format.
I also checked out numerous imaging and deployment tools including clonezilla, ghost, g4u, wpkg and others, but most of them lack the hardware Independence and updatability features.
We currently have a Symantec Ghost server setup that does imaging over the network, but I'm not satisfied with it as it has all the drawbacks i listed above.
Do you have suggestions how to optimize the process of workstation deployment? How do you deploy them in your organization?