We have many sites world-widely, in which a Linux server (tftp, PXE, nfs, dhcp service, http enabled) is used to deploy Linux clients automatically unattended. Now we have a needs to deploy Windows 7 clients. How to do that?

I have some thoughts, and a lot of questions.

  • we intend to use existing Linux server, new tools may install to support the deployment. but no intention to set up a new deployment server
  • because we strictly restrict the hardware type (cpu, disk, network card, video card, and monitor), so I think it will be easy to create a image (disk image?) file and clone to hard disk in remote client.
  • now the problem is, which best tool to create the windows image and write to disk after remote client boot up into Linux from PXE?
  • how to make the image size minimized?
  • After disk image written, remote client will reboot and boot into windows 7. Is there a way to let ti get the ip address (dhcp?) and automatically retrieve some scripts from Linux server (http, nfs, or samba) to and run these scripts to extra jobs?

Need your helps. Thank you very much!


FOG does a lot of these:

  • PXE/TFTP/NFS based on Linux
  • Images are usually of a completely deployed machine, but sysprep images may also work (using sysprep with FOG is not entirely clear - YMMV)
  • ntfsclone based so the partition is shrunk to a minimal size (e.g. 6-7GB for a Windows 7 desktop)
  • Snapin system allows pushing executables (installers, tasks etc.) to machines post-deployment or as needed

The FOG Wiki has a lot more in-depth detail that may help you determine if it is suitable for your situation.

  • Just to be pedantic - using sysprep doesn't mean you have to inject drivers. It can still be a very complete image - it's just good practice to sysprep before delivery – Dan Aug 29 '13 at 15:47
  • @Dan I plead ignorance here, I've not used sysprep, and the FOG community experience with sysprep & Windows 7 onwards has been somewhat inconsistent; adjusted accordingly. – Andrew Aug 29 '13 at 23:54

On a very fundamental level - if your hardware is as static as you say then all you need is a Windows 7 image (On that hardware, of course) which is configured as you require and is then prepared using Sysprep. You can then use something like RunOnce commands to do things on first boot.

In my opinion, that's actually going to be the most challenging part of the project. If you're new to Windows deployment then you need to do some real development and learning work - especially around Sysprep and automated deployments.

Beyond that, any of your Linux imaging tools that can read NTFS should work fine. For example, I use CloneZilla on a regular basis for imaging Windows gear. (Sorry, I'm not sure which actual tool within CloneZilla I use).

Here are some starting points:

Sysprep - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc721940(v=ws.10).aspx

Windows 7 AIK - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd349343(v=ws.10).aspx

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