I have 6 new computer in a primary school that arrived with Win 7 installed. I have to put them on our domain, but I also have to install all sorts of programs on them.

With Win XP I always cloned them but I am not sure about cloning in Windows 7.

  1. Can I clone them without losing the install partition?
  2. What is the best way to install 25 different software packages on these machines?
  3. I need to stay compliant with the pre-installed licenses.

Update we have Ubuntu server as a Domain provider and Samba for the fileshares.

  • @MarkMthanks for that – TryHarder Oct 12 '11 at 15:17
  • You may find edugeek.net a useful resource if you've not been there before. (For those who don't want to click, it's an Educational IT specific forum) – Dan Oct 12 '11 at 15:21

Imaging in Win 7 is similar to Win XP. Make sure to check if they are 32-bit or 64-bit. If you're installing 25 applications on them, you run the chance of having some older software. You may have to launch applications in Compatibility Mode, run as Administrator, or may not function at all (due to 16-bit incompatibility in 64-bit OS.)

If you do build an image based on Windows 7, one thing to keep in mind is any software that may require a unique ID based on the workstation. McAfee is one package (depending on use case) that can require an extra step. See here: McAfee GUID reset

Can I clone them without losing the install partition?

I'm guessing you mean the workstations have a partition containing the OS source and some diagnostic tools. Usually this partition is protected by some means, either marked as system or another method. Check with the manufacturer on their own unique setup. Dell and HP deal with questions about this all the time.

What is the best way to install 25 different software packages on these machines?

The best way would be to do exactly what you're asking about... create a 'clone' by imaging. MDT was referenced in the above post, but for 6 workstations, that can be more work than necessary. With few workstations, I would look for an off-the-shelf tool such as Symantec's Ghost. It's easy to use and also widely used by many enterprise professionals at large organizations and smaller ones as well.

I need to stay compliant with the pre-installed licenses.

Licensing can be a sticking point. You'll want to check with the manufacturers to make sure you're in compliance. Some software is licensed per instance, some is licensed per installation and some is licensed based on the number of concurrent users. It's a mixed bag based on the developer.

  • thanks very much the detailed answer!!! really appreciated - I leave open this question for now see if I can bring more info to it so others can benefit from the question as well:) – TryHarder Oct 12 '11 at 16:00
  • No problem. I've been imaging workstations for years... feel free to add more questions if you have them. I'll try to give you a direct answer. – Ben Campbell Oct 12 '11 at 16:31

You CANNOT legally clone/image an OEM installation of Windows if you attempt to customize it in any way. This is against the Microsoft licensing agreement. If you have ONE Volume License for the version of Windows you want to use, then you can build an image with that, customize it, and redeploy.

For example, you said you have 6 PCs. If all these PCs run Windows 7 Pro, you can buy 5 Windows 7 Pro Volume Licenses (minimum order -- unless you have a pre-existing recent Volume License agreement that enables you to order 1). and redeploy to all 6 machines. The point being, to be legal, you must use legally obtained Volume License media and a volume license key for a version that matches or is greater than the version that came pre-installed on the machines.

If you were using Windows server instead of Linux, deployment would be pretty easy using Windows Deployment Services (built in component of Windows 2003 and later Server editions).

So, to summarize and answer your two specific questions: 1.Can I clone them without losing the install partition? Yes, but not if you customize them UNLESS you have a volume license copy of Win7

2.What is the best way to install 25 different software packages on these machines? The BEST way is to build the machine, image, and deploy - but if you don't have the appropriate licenses, then you can install each machine fully one at a time or you can research each installation routine - SOME may be installable through script. But researching and testing this, while educational and MAY be beneficial in the long run, will take longer now.

Note: Microsoft has academic pricing and other offers you may be able to qualify for. In addition, you may qualify for purchases through TechSoup.org (or an equivalent organization -- I can't recall the name, but I know there's an equivalent org in Australia).

  • Your point #2 is debatable. The best way wouldn't be to deploy it as part of the image, but rather via GPO/SCCM/Altiris/etc. If you pack it into the image, how can you manage updates? – MDMarra Oct 12 '11 at 16:51
  • thanks guys I am happy to learn and also welcome any comments discussion until I get it right:) I will investigate it with Microsoft as well and will let you know what they say:) – TryHarder Oct 12 '11 at 17:14
  • @MarkM - Yes, using GPO/SCCM may well be better - but the question strongly suggests those are not available. He states "we have Ubuntu server as a Domain provider and Samba for the fileshares" therefore these are not options. – Multiverse IT Oct 13 '11 at 6:41
  1. As long as your cloning software supports this, then yes. You're vague about what software you use, so I can't really give you any more details.

  2. Through GPO or some other software management platform like SCCM.

  3. You should be using sysprep before cloning your machines anyway. This will allow you to provide a new product key after installation. Just provide the one for your system. Alternatively, if you have KMS licensing you can just let them activate themselves. Generally speaking, Microsoft is fairly lenient with what keys are installed where as long as the total number of installations does not exceed your total number of licenses. This, of course, is not an official policy from Microsoft, so tread carefully.

  • Thanks for the answer. I have used Clonezilla with WinXP but I was OK as I had the physical Install disk provided with the computers. Now everything on the hard drive – TryHarder Oct 12 '11 at 15:43
  • 2, I am not sure If I can use GPO as so many different software we have to install from Open Source (Goggle SketchUp) to commercial (SmartBoard) – TryHarder Oct 12 '11 at 15:46
  • I wouldn't spin up SCCM to manage 6 workstations... but that's me. – Ben Campbell Nov 30 '11 at 15:31
  • @BenCampbell He says he has six new workstations, not 6 total. I assume that since he has an Active Directory Domain that there are more. – MDMarra Nov 30 '11 at 15:37

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