My company is in the process of ordering new desktops. My coworker has received one of the models and began working on a new image from scratch. This got me thinking that it would be a good time to learn about answer files and the deployment process.

I should probably mention that our imaging program at the office is Altiris 6.9 and Ghost. I don't remember ever dealing with answer files when using Altiris. I should also mention that my coworker is pulling the finished image using Acronis (he believes that Ghost does not support imaging SSDs).

So, to make matters more confusing, I decided to practice deployment at home using WDS in a lab that I've been working on. The capture/deployment process seems to be working fine, however when deploying any images they seem to be auto-named DomainAdmins* (where the star is an incrementing number) and also they are automatically joined to the domain.

Does anybody know if that is dafult WDS behavior? I was thinking I would need to configure the answer file to name the machine and then run a script afterwards to join the domain, however this is happening immediately. I thought it might have had something to do with my WDS server, some bad configuration or something, so i deployed another WDS server and it still happens.

I did come across a answer file on my WDS server in the C:\Windows\Panther directory that includes my domain name and current computer name (at this point I'm up to DomainAdmins4. I believe this answer file is being applied to my images, but I don't see where this is happening. I was under the impression answer files needed to be placed into a sysprep folder of the machine being captured, and specified in the sysprep.exe command utilizing a -unattend

I'm so confused, any help would be appreciated.

Thank You


1 Answer 1


You are correct about the default naming convention. Windows will use the DomainAdmins prefixed-naming unless you tell it to use something else. If I remember correctly, in WDS, this is accomplished in one of three ways:

  1. Explicitly set a name in your answer file. This obviously doesn't scale.
  2. Use some custom scripting in the install process to set the name. Limitless options, but can be unnecessarily complex.
  3. Pre-create computer accounts in AD.

In my environment, we use option 3. there's several ways to go about this, but by far, the easiest is to use the integration with the PXE boot process. In WDS, you have the option of setting your server to only deploy to approved systems. With this set, when you PXE boot a system, and it contacts your WDS server for the first time, it falls into a queue on WDS where you have the option to 'Name and Approve'.

This option creates an AD computer object with whatever name you prefer, and with a field containing the PXE GUID or MAC address of that system.
From that point on, if you use the automated domain join without explicitly specifying a name, when the join occurs, the system will inherit the name of the computer account associated with it. This requires a little bit of effort up front, but once you've named your systems, you won't have to do it again.

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