Geeks of the Century
Symantec Ghost is the number one software used for mass image deployment in enterprises. There are many others tools, including free and open source, but Ghost by far is number one.
Sysprep is a utility developed by Microsoft to facilitate the mass image deployment process.
What sysprep does is creates unique SID (Security ID) for each computer upon next boot up, which guarantees that each computer will be unique on the network.
The following two links talk more about sysprep and give more details about the usage and best practices:
The purpose of this article is to give you and overview and to clarify the image deployment process as a whole, and not go into details and theories. I assume that you have a ghost boot disk and know how to create a simple image using Ghost. Also note that Windows 7 Deployment process is completely different and this article mainly refers to windows XP, however you can use it for Windows 7 too.
Here we go:
1.Get the system ready:
- Prepare a system by installing all the necessary software and settings.
- Configure and customize the Operating System using local group policy editor (i.e. gpedit.msc) or however method you are more comfortable with.
- Perform Windows Updates. It’s important not to deploy an outdated OS, otherwise windows will want to update itself right after deployment. Don’t waste your time, your user’s time and most importantly your company bandwidth.
- Clean up after yourself either manually or by running a utility such as Ccleaner. This is a safe and trusted software. This step is really important because you leave your marks when you downloaded drivers, ran commands, tested software and so on. You want your image to be clean, and most importantly not to have junk temporary files and MRU (Most Recently Used) entries in the registry and all over the system.
- Configure the Default user profile. This is where you control how the users sees and experiences the computer when they first login to the system. Set it according to your company’s needs and not Microsoft’s default Icon arrangements and look.
2. Create a Un-Syspreped image: I do this extra step because in the future I might want to adjust and update my image. In order not to repeat the first step that I described above I image the system right after the first step. I call this Un-Syspreped Image.
3. After the Un-Syspreped image creation is finished reboot the system and run sysprep. When you run sysprep the system will shut down on its own. MAKE SURE NOT TO TURN THE SYSTEM ON. LEAVE IT OFF.
4. Create the Syspreped image by imaging the system that just turned off right after the sysprep process. This is the image that will be deployed to other computers.
At this moment you should have two images; Un-Syspreped and a Syspreped. You deploy the Syspreped image to other computers, and upon reboot the computer will go through its initial setup process which asks for Name, Organization, PC Name and so on.
So when do you use the Un-Syspreped Image?
In the future you might want to update your image. There would be many-many reasons why you would want to update an image. Here are some of them:
• Adding new software
• Upgrading software
• Removing software that are no longer used
• Updating Windows
• Fixing problems
• And my favorite is when you forget and turn on the syspreped system without imaging
In this article I assumed that you know how to create a Ghost Boot Disk that appropriate for your environment and you know how to image a system with ghost. I also assumed that you know how to create the answer file and know how to use Sysprep in general.
What is a Fast Computer, and do you really need one?
There are many applications, and special needs that require fast computer processors. I edit videos, and to me rendering portion is where the true power of CPU comes in handy; rest of the time it not as relevant. Faster CPUs such as Intel’s i7 Core will surely help you finish rendering your project sooner.
Notice how I’m using 5.25GB out of my 6GB or RAM. Today many systems come with 4, 8 and even 16GB of RAM. Don’t fall for all the Marketing that goes on out there stating that you need this and that. Without getting too technical, 4GB or RAM is plenty for the average to advanced user.
Right now I’m using Google Chrome, taking screen-shots, cropping them and composing this e-mail in Gmail while the video is being rendered in the background. I don’t see any lag, and I’m able to use the system as if nothing is running in the background. All this happens with a discontinued 3 year old CPU, that’s right, a 3 year old CPU.
Without contradicting myself, I also would like to mention that having 4GB of RAM isn’t enough, and that 8 or more Gigabytes of memory is a must if you do Video Editing while doing 3D Animation, while you have AutoCAD project open and to top it off will be running VMWare with multiple Operating Systems. If all this sounds familiar then my recommendation would be to get at least 16GB of RAM. For everyone else out there stick to the Low end Bargains that the Black Friday offers with only 2 to 3 Gigs of RAM.
Many people get fooled at the local drug store when they are buying over-the-counter medicine. A good example of this would be Tylenol. I constantly get into arguments with friends and relatives about this subject, but there are people who refuse to believe that the Generic Version of Tylenol – a drug called Acetaminophen – is the same things as Tylenol.
Common belief is that something cheaper must be less effective, but that is not true. It’s the same.
Here are some of the Generic Brands of Acetaminophen out there: Walmart has its Equate brand for all the generic medicine, Costco has Kirkland, and the rest such as Target, Kmart, RiteAid, CVS and Walgreens just have their Logo and the word Acetaminophen on the box.
Now the same goes for Advil or Motrin. Any time you see Advil or Motrin, just look to the right and you’ll see the Generic version called Ibuprofen. Both Advil and Motrin compete to make people think that their drug is more effective than the other, but both companies are lying. Be smart about it; save yourself some money and get the Ibuprofen.
I talked about Tylenol, Advil and Motrin, but the same is true for Excedrin, TheraFlu, Robitussin, Benadryl and the rest of the popular over-the-counter stuff you can find at your local pharmacy.
Active Ingredients: This the key to really understand what’s going on. It doesn’t matter what the commercials say, or what the ads claim, it’s the Active Ingredient what matters. Check for your self. Flip the box around and ready what’s in your Medicine. If the active ingredients are the same then they are the SAME. Excedrin for example is a little bit of Tylenol, a little bit of Aspirin, and Coffee. That’s it.
This is not a medical opinion or a scientific result, but if you were to take a Tylenol, some Aspirin, and drunk a cup of coffee you should get the same result as Excedrin. Now, I’m not suggesting you to start doing that because the dosages are completely different, but the physical medicine that goes into your system are the same.
What motivated me to write this blog was when my friend purchased a stereo system using the points he earned from his credit card. He was so excited to share the new that the $180 system cost him Zero dollars because he used the Rewards Points that he accumulated over the past year.
Well, I was happy for him too except that after doing a quick online search I found that his stereo system was only $110, and that if he cashed out his rewards points he could have bought the same stereo system online and still have $70 in his pocket.
I think the whole “Rewards Store” is a scam. They jack up the price, and people overpay for items that could otherwise be bought for a lot less.
My Advice… Always, and I mean always get your cash. This is true for any credit card rewards program whether its a frequent flier miles or anything else out there. People argue that the travel miles are great, and my counter argument is the following: when it’s time to travel and you are getting ready to start looking into buying tickets you are faced with so many restrictions such as availability, prior scheduling and flight times that you rather not use your miles. Hey, don’t you wish you cashed out and now you could have spend that money on the ticket itself (yes, you would have paid 15-25% more) without the hassle of restrictions.
Should you overspend for the popular brand? Or, are they all the same?
When my first baby was born, I received a gift basket from the hospital while we were at the hospital. I thought that was very nice of them, and it was cute at the same time.
In there I found some baby literature, a small can of Enfamil and some coupons. Well, the natural reaction was that Enfamil is the brand the hospital recommends, and that’s the brand we should go with.
Few months passed and my baby stopped breastfeeding and we slowly switched to formula. Not knowing anything I picked up Enfimil, but one thing that caught my attention was the price. It was the MOST expensive one, at least by 25% more. But Hey, we all want the best for our babies, don’t we?
Few days passed and I visited my Local Costco to get some Formula again. This time I noticed that right next to Enfimil there is the Costco’s Kirkland brand for less than half the price. That’s right, Enfimil was $34.99 and Kirkland was $17.99, and Kirkland’s Can was larger by 2 ounces. Well, I didn’t know what to do, and per my wife’s advice we cannot switch baby formula for some reason. You know what… I said screw it, I’m going for it.
A week later we went to the doctor and we asked the doctor what her recommendation is, and if Kirkland is a good brand for baby formula, and her reply was:
To be honest, it does not matter since the manufacturer who produces for Costco could very well be Enfimil or Similac itself. It just that it’s packaged for Costco. And even if it’s not Enfimil or Similac it’s a company that makes baby food which is heavily controlled by the FDA. So don’t worry about anything.
Right after that day we switched to Kirkland Signature Baby Formula and our baby didn’t even notice a difference as oppose to what’s being advertised.
Go ahead and saver yourselves some money, don’t cave in and don’t be intimidated by all the marketing propaganda that is being spread by the big corporations and their brands.
This might sound like a Promotional Ad for Costco, but it’s not. The only reason I want to write this piece is because I was discussing it with my cousin the other day whether it’s worth signing up for a Costco Membership or not.
Before I give my answer let me say that if you live around a Costco warehouse that also has a gas station then it is a no-brainer, and that not getting the membership would literally be stupid. Why? Because Costco gas is about 15-20 cents cheaper than the rest of the gas stations out there (well, except Arco, but I’m going to leave Arco out of the competition because Arco does not accept Credit Card, which could potentially turn in to Reward Points and cashback, and most importantly it is very very inconvenient to pay with cash).
Now Having said that Costco gas is 15-20 cents cheap translates to a lot of savings. Let’s calculate this…
An average car has a 17 gallon gas tank. That means that every time you do a full tank fill up you could be saving from (17 x $0.15 to 17 x $0.20) $2.25 to $3.40. Wow, that’s a lot of money if you think about it. How many times a month do you fill up? At least twice if not three times. Ok, let’s calculate it with twice a month which turns out to be 24 times a year.
24 x $2.25 = $54
24 x $3.40 = $81.60
I’m sure everybody knows how much a costco membership is. It’s $50 for a year. Well, if you don’t use any of their services, and if you don’t buy anything from them just the savings from filling up your gas there will pay for the $50 membership fee.
This calculation was done based on the fact that your car’s gas tank is 17 gallons. If you have a larger tank then the savings would be even greater. Also I assumed that you fill up twice a month, but average commuter fills up once a week or 3 times a month, at least here in Southern California.
I have a Honda Odyssey, and it has 21 gallon gas tank. I save anywhere from $3.15 to $4.20 per fill up which is about $75 to $100 a year. Yup, it’s worth for me to get a Costco Membership.
Now, if your local Costco does not have a gas station, then it’s your call, but that store has so much to offer I still think it’s a good deal. Just the photo services alone make it worth while. Yes, they make you buy things in bulk, but those are things that you use anyways, and if you are a big family, maybe you buy thing in bulk anyways, so why not save on them.
To summarize it, yes get the Costco membership, I think it’s worth it, but your Costco has a gas station too, then YOU MUST GET IT, IT WOULD BE INSANE NOT TO GET IT.