Setting up RIS

With all checks completed, the time had come to begin setting up the Remote Installation Services (RIS) server. As a quick reminder, this has to be a system with a single network adaptor, the usual set of Windows services (Active Directory, DNS, and DHCP), a separate partition for the RIS folder tree, and at least 4GB of free hard disk space on that partition. I recall that Microsoft’s documentation also points out that your system needs to meet a minimum operating system specification, but if it doesn’t meet that you wouldn’t have been able to install the OS in the first place, so I’m not quite sure why it was mentioned at all.

Setting up RIS

As with anything in life, ‘basic minimum’ means exactly what it says, and since I prefer both belt and braces I tend to make sure that my systems are specified as far above the minimum as is affordable, practicable and sensible for the solution in mind. Most of my servers have to fulfil multiple roles anyway, so the absolute minimum specification is nearly always out of the question.

To install the Remote Installation Services onto your server, head for the Start button and select Control Panel | Add/Remove Programs | Add/Remove Windows Components. Scroll down the list that appears until you find Remote Installation Services, click on the check button and hit . Then, once the service has installed, you’ll need to restart the system.

The next thing you need to do is set up Remote Installation Services, which is done via a wizard, and you’ll find it lurking in the Administrative Tools folder. Locate the Remote Installation Services Setup applet and run it, and you’ll see that a small checklist appears reminding you of the things you need to have done before running this program – among these is the requirement for a shared folder where the client installation images are to be stored. Also, on running the wizard, you’ll be prompted initially for a folder where the installation images themselves can be stored, and you can accept the default, or create your own. Next up is a screen entitled Initial Settings that wants to know how you wish the server to respond when approached by client systems.

You can now choose whether or not the RIS server will respond to client systems as soon as the image is completed, or whether you want the server only to respond to pre-staged clients. This is a security matter that I covered here last month – make your choice (these settings can of course be changed later) and hit Next. The default is that the server won’t respond to any clients of any nature at all until setup is completed.

You’ll now be asked to specify the location of the installation files, or of a CD with the installation files, and after that you’ll be asked for a name for that files folder. You’ll then be prompted for a friendly description to enable users to see what it was they were getting. After that, the installation files will be copied to the remote installation folder and you’ll see a checklist getting ticked off as each element in the process passes successfully. You need to run this Setup wizard every time you want to add the installation files for a particular OS, as you can’t create the client images until the basic OS files have been stored in the folder tree on the server.

Once you’ve finished with the base files, you can begin the process of creating client images based on the system you’ve already set up. These can range from basic systems with just the OS, to ones that have been populated with selected applications as well. The client images can be created in a number of ways, as I described in some detail in last month’s column. In this example, I’m going to use the Remote Installation Preparation (RIPrep) wizard.

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