The steps to create a lab installation are easy with Windows Vista AIK. With a clear idea of what you need to install on the machines and the requirements described below, a couple of days may be enough to have everything in place.

Also, only a single image may be applied to different machines.

The steplist described below is taken from Getting Started with the Windows Automated Installation Kit.

Requirements

  • Vista DVD: a DVD with Windows Vista.
  • WAIK: Windows Vista Automated Installation Kit (get the download here).
  • A USB Key: this is needed to contain the answers file for the installation (a little key should be ok).
  • Blank CD/DVD RW: this is needed to boot lab machines at installation time.
  • Master PC: a Lab machine to setup the Vista master installation.
  • Technician PC: a pc with a DVD ROM Drive (RW capable), Windows AIK, and the tools described below.
  • Network Connectivity: this is needed to store the OS Image for lab machines (NB The LAB machine image file will contain the lab machine system drive, so it can possibly be very large!!).
  • CDBurn/Dvdburn utility: this tool allows burning a DVD from a ISO Image (Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools).

The following steps can be applied to take the image of a single disk lab machine.

Step 1: create a bootable Windows PE RAM CD/DVD

Step 2: setup the master PC

  1. Start the master PC with Vista DVD and setup Vista.
  2. Configure Vista and setup all the software you need to the master PC.
  • run the "disk clean up wizard" from the disk manager to reduce as much as possible the image size.
  • Run sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /shutdown from folder "c:\windows\system32\sysprep"

Step 3: take an image of the master PC

  • Boot the Master PC with the Windows PE RAM CD.
  • type d: from "command prompt" to change the current drive from the RAM DRIVE to the DVD.
  • Type imagex /compress fast /capture c: c:\ image.wim "Vista Lab Install" /Verify
  • Save the image (image.wim) onto a reachable network share (es. \\master\labimage).

Step 4: apply the Image to Lab PCs

  • Boot the Master PC with the Windows PE RAM CD.
  • Create 2 partitions on the pc with the following diskpart script

    diskpart /s diskpartcleanscript.txt

     

    Where diskpartcleanscript.txt contains the following text:

    select disk 0

    clean

    create partition primary SIZE=60000

    select partition 1

    active

    format quick

    assign letter=C

    create partition primary

    select partition 2

    format quick

    assign letter=Y

    exit

     

  • Download Vista Image (image.wim) on drive "y:"

    use the following script:

    net use \\master\labimage /User:master\lab *****

    robocopy \\master\labimage . install.wim

     

  • Run imagex /apply of the image to the first partition

    imagex /apply y:\labimage\install.wim 1 c: