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I need to know if there is a way to automatically install Windows XP on multiple computers (about 50). Something like creating a "bat" file or some sort of script file where I would write the configuration I need and then just power on the computers and Windows will install on all the computers. I think this problem may be a very common one and I googleed it, but I didn't like any of the solutions. It would be great if I could configure automatically the computer's name and IP address, but I think this may be too much to ask.

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There's Windows Deployment Services, Acronis, Ghost, Clonezilla...take your pick. It does take a bit more than just creating a batch file though....really, if you have to even ask this question here I don't think you're on the right site. – tombull89 Sep 9 '11 at 21:26
@tombull89, this type of question is exactly the type of question that should be asked on serverfault. It falls squarely in the system administration camp. He didn't ask anyone to do it for him, he simply wanted to know what technologies allowed him to accomplish a general goal. Sorry to call you out, because really the first 75% of your response was exactly what he needed, but the last bit rubbed me the wrong way. I just cringe when I see unnecessarily harsh responses to newer users. – pk. Sep 9 '11 at 21:42
I agree with pk. It's a newbish question but it fits the topic of this site more closely than a lot that seem to pass muster. +1 – Jason Berg Sep 9 '11 at 22:01
@pk, @Jason. Fair point. I realise I did come across as harsh, however, the FaQ does say for "system administrators and desktop support professionals" which obvously isn't our OP. Maybe a programmer forced into a sysadmin role but can you honestly say that I think this problem may be a very common one and have googleed it means they haven't quite done enough reasearch. Saying that, if they asked about a specific type of deployment I would be more than willing to help. – tombull89 Sep 9 '11 at 22:21
i did some research indeed, but i thought this problem was a very common one as i said, and there would be more than one way to do it, so i asked for opinions too, you are right, i'm kinda newbish and also a programmer forced into sysadmin role, but i thought the question would fit here, even if it's a simple one, if you didn't like it, thanks for answering anyway and sorry for bothering you ¬¬ – Paulo Bu Sep 9 '11 at 22:53

You've got a couple of options. All of them involve using the Windows XP Deployment Tools, so make sure you download that.

  1. The first option is to create an answer file using the above named tools. Slipstream the answer file into a Windows XP install CD, boot from the CD, and let it do its thing
  2. Install Windows XP on a single computer. Install any additional software you want on that computer. Configure how you'd like it. Run sysprep (again, from the tools above) and hand it an answer file (created from the deployment tools). Use one of the many image based deployment options (Symantec Ghost Solution Suite, Acronis SnapDeploy, etc.) to gather the image from your computer and deploy it out to the rest.

There's some specifics involved in each one of these solutions. Figure out what you want to do, study up on it, then ask some more questions here as you run into problems.

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You're going about it wrong, don't install it 50 times. Install it once then clone it.

There are all sorts of cloning utilities. Ghost and Clonezilla are two of them.

Also, see Microsoft's sysprep utility before cloning.

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It might be helpful to know why you didn't like the answers you found while googling, or indeed what they actually were.

There are two ways to deploy client OSes and lots of tools that let you use one or the other of these methods or some combination.

There is the scripted deployment: install windows with an OS image and an "answer file" that provides scripted answers to the typical questions you see during deployment, with the possibility of further scripting to install subsequent application packages and OS patches. This can be painful to set up and debug but is very flexible, especially if combined with windows servers running Active Directory (AD), as you can then use Group Policies (GPOs) to handle the app deployment based on various criteria.

There's the "clone-the-disk- method. This is fairly self explanatory... set up one machine exactly how you want it, take a copy of the disk image, and deploy that to many machines. Faster than a scripted image but potentially less flexible (if your image includes Adobe CS5 and you need a dozen machines without it...)

We use a hybrid method, which is probably one of the more popular ways of doing this among people I speak to these days: Clone Windows image for baseline OS install, major OS patches and major applications that take forever to install via the scripted method, plus deployment into active directory and assign "smaller" applications to install via AD GPOs which allows us to use one baseline image for our whole site (about 1300 machines) while ensuring that only HR get the HR software, only finance + people in departments authorised by finance to place orders get the finance software, etc. We also do something similar for Mac OSX.

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FOG is an open-source cloning solution. Don't let the low version number scare you.

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Comments on down-votes are helpful. FOG is made to solve the OP's problem. – gWaldo Sep 10 '11 at 11:47

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