Michael Ramsey

CompTIA A+ Certified Hardware / Software Technician

Oracle Database Specialist

 














VMWare to ANY Hardware

(Transfer a Virtual OS to REAL Hardware)

This project is completed!  It has taken several months to perfect this technique.  More and more details will be added to this site as time passes.  Tired of trying to use MS Sysprep to do a multi system rollout?  While Microsoft Sysprep has its uses, it leaves a lot to be desired.  I like to call it MS Sissy Prep, even though its still a good tool.  Of course, I am NOT comparing MS Sysprep to VMWare.  They are totally different tools used for different purposes.  However, after extensive testing, MS Sysprep doesn't seem all that great at doing what it was designed for.  I tested setups with dozens of Sysprep.ini files and several HAL configurations.  Don't get me wrong, Sysprep is still an important tool used by many administrators and it can still get the job done with a little effort and trial and error on your part.

At this time, I am not going to go into all the details of the Sysprep testing and most of the information is written to make it easier for you to read, rather than technically accurate.  The idea behind Sysprep is that it should "prepare" an OS to be cloned by removing many hardware specific settings from the OS during shutdown.  On the next reboot, the OS should reconfigure itself for the new hardware as if you were installing it for the first time.  After shutting down the system, you should be able to do an image copy of the OS, then copy that image to another system.  When you restart the OS on the new system, it should allow you or itself to set up the new hardware.  YEA RIGHT !!!  Sysprep works great when you have many machines with identical hardware and OS configurations.  However, most people or small businesses do NOT have identical machines.  A person or small company with less than 20 computers has probably bought those computers over a several year time span.  Only a large company will normally have the resources needed to buy more than 20 identical computers at the same time.  Even then, corporate budgeting cycles will force individual departments to all have different computer hardware configurations.  Sysprep uses a configuration file / setup manager that allows you to modify it for different hardware profiles, but it still takes a fair bit of effort and the results are not always desirable.  Hardware abstraction layer problems, plug and play ID code searches / entries, and mass storage issues make Sysprep a "hands on" tool.  The Sysprep steps are not difficult after you have done them a few times, but they still remain a little annoying.

Sysprep can speed up the time it takes to install a pre configured OS onto several computers.  However, all 10+ of my computers have different hardware and Sysprep would only speed up future reinstall time on each system.  In addition, I would need several different images and Sysprep configurations.  I needed a smarter, faster, better way to create the perfect OS that could simply be copied to any computer and instantly boot up with minimal work.  I have perfected a system that allows me to copy an OS image to any hard drive, boot into that new system, and have it fully setup in as little as 2 reboots.  Of course, I like to reboot more often than the minimum to reduce the chance for any conflicts.  The new computer will be fully setup for the new hardware, it will have its own system name and new Security ID (SID).  This means I can have a fully configured and operational OS installed on a newly built computer in as little as 15 minutes!!

The documentation for the image preparation technique is not ready, however, I have personally written and completed 98% of the documentation for the "after installation / first boot" steps.  The pre-image documentation has not been finished yet because I have successfully perfected this technique using a few methods that are slightly different from each other.  The possible advantages and disadvantages of using one technique versus the other are still being determined.  When I have decided on the best method, detailed instructions will be posted.  For now, you can have a look at the post image copy instructions that were created for the first boot up.  Some of the information has been cut out or replaced with XXXXX where personal information or other irrelevant info was located.  Note, this particular set of instructions is for a specific OS image install that has already been created.  There will soon be a generic watered down version of the information that will be modified for each particular OS image.  The information was written for the image user and not for this website, but you can still view it and get a feeling for what is going on.  You can view the "after image copy" documentation for this specific image deployment by clicking HERE.








 
This site is Copyright by Michael Ramsey 2005, All rights reserved.