HOWTO: Building a student computer lab image using Windows NT and Novell Z.E.N. Works & NAL

Note: This document was published in 1998 and appears here for historical purposes. Information contained in this document is likely out of date, incomplete and references information that may not exist at the URL specified.

The NT side

Making an easy to refresh machine using GHOST, NT and

This Document is a work in progress. It is as accurate as I can make it without people having used the method to create a Lab Machine. If you use this document and you have any comments, both positive and negative, please let me know by mailing me.

This document is in two parts. This is the NT side of things, there is also a / NAL side to the story.

This document assumes that you're using the other half of this document. If not, read it so you know what I'm on about, then ignore it when you know better. If I made any mistakes, let me know by mailing me, otherwise I'll just sit here thinking I invented the best thing since sliced fruit bread in the morning.

Now the story.

This system was created to make student labs manageable. Students break things often, either maliciously, or because of lack of knowledge. This system aims to stop that.

First we create a PC that has only the operating system on it together with the Netware Client. (Currently I'm using the one that comes with the first release of Z.E.N., v4.30.410) The machine is created in such a way that a user can choose to either start the OS, or refresh the computer (using ghost). The refresh copies the image of the OS onto the OS partition and reboots, giving the user the same choice.

This system will also work if you have applications installed on the machine. The only down side is that the refresh will take longer. The method I currently use takes three minutes. There is no network utilisation, so you can refresh 500 machines in one go in three minutes.

If you were to install applications on the image, you will have to update the image regularly, since updates come and go all the time :-( Different users have different priveledges and needs, so we let NDS sort that out with NAL, rather than let NT take care of it.

In fact as I write this, the user logging into one of these systems is doing so with full administrator access, only they cannot run anything other than what NAL gives them. (I am still attempting to find a file manager solution, so the user can copy files between transfer volume, drive A: and their home directory, I'm open to suggestions.)

This document describes the process of creating the OS.

Setting Up a Lab Machine:

  1. What You Need Before You Start
  2. Create A Partition for NT
  3. Install NT
  4. Install the Service Pack
  5. Install the Video Drivers
  6. Set Preferences
  7. Install NetWare Client ( client!)
  8. Setup DOS partition
  9. Setup NT so it can boot it
    1. Modify BOOT.INI
  10. Install DOS
  11. Make a BOOTSECTOR file & Copy it into NTFS
  12. Remove Microsoft Networking
  13. Install GHOST
  14. Make an Image
  15. Lock up the DOS files
  16. Test it all

Modifications to this document:

7 July 1998 - Added comments about files and preferences, added LegalNoticeCaption and LegalNoticeText, added marker file, added comment about Ghost of whole disk

12 June 1998 - Added how to remove Microsoft Networking, updated version number to 1.1

  1. [Top] Getting Started
    1. Windows NT workstation CD
    2. Windows NT boot floppies
      1. You can create these by running {NT CD}:\i386\WINNT /OX
    3. Access to Service Pack 3
    4. Access to client
    5. Bootable DOS Floppy with GHOST.EXE, FDISK.EXE, ATTRIB.EXE, SYS.COM
    6. Video Drivers Disk
    7. About 1 hour (mostly for the NT install)
  2. [Top] Boot from DOS
  3. Run FDISK
    1. Delete all partitions
    2. Create a PRIMARY DOS partition, 75% of the total size
    3. Insert NT Disk #1 and exit FDISK
  4. [Top] Install NT
    1. Ignore the Video Drivers
    2. Install onto 75% partition
    3. Ignore 'Disk Damaged' errors and format as NTFS
    4. Choose "Custom Install"
    5. Don't create an Emergency Disk
    6. Choose All Components *except* "Windows Messaging" and "Communications"
    7. Install TCP/IP and IPX/SPX
    8. Add Client Services for Netware
    9. Use DHCP
    10. Make it part of a Workgroup (You'll remove MS networking later)
    11. GMT+8 (HongKong, Perth...)
    12. Boot Up after Install
    13. Don't worry about the Novell Login Stuff at this point.
  5. [Top] Install SP3
    1. Don't Create an Uninstall Directory
  6. [Top] Boot in VGA-mode
  7. Install S3-Virge_DX video Drivers
  8. [Top] Boot in Normal Mode
    1. Set the Video Preferences
    2. Untick the Show Welcome Box and close it
    3. Close all Open windows, set preferences etc.
    4. Set Minimum Paging File Size to 100 Mb
    5. Set Maximum Paging File Size to 100 Mb
    6. Set Hardware Profiles wait to 1 Second
    7. Set Startup boot menu wait to 15 seconds
    8. Set "Automatically Reboot on STOP event" to ON
  9. [Top] Install ZEN Netware Client
    1. Choose Custom Install
    2. Add the Remote Control Client (we may need it later)
    3. Trusted Tree: CURTIN_LAB (or CURTIN_UNI at a later stage)
  10. [Top] Boot in Normal Mode
  11. Login to Workstation Only
  12. Launch Disk Administrator
    1. Create Primary Partition with the remaining 25%
    2. Commit Changes
    3. Assign Drive Letter I:
    4. Format it FAT
  13. [Top] Clear READ-ONLY attribute for C:\BOOT.INI
  14. Modify C:\BOOT.INI so it looks like:
    1. [boot loader]
    2. timeout=15
    3. default=multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT
    4. [operating systems]
    5. multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINNT="ABACUS Lab - CEA"
    6. C:\WINNT\BOOTSECT.DOS="Refresh Computer"
  15. Set READ-ONLY attribute for C:\BOOT.INI
  16. Modify settings for ABACUS Lab implementation
    1. The machine needs to have Workstation Manager setup and configured after a refresh. To do this, a user must login at least once. The problem is that this user has full priveleges until the setup is complete. Solution, log the user out the moment they login for the first time. It's not pretty, but after three months of attempting to make this work, I can only make it work this way.
      1. Create a file C:\WS1STGO.ZEN
        1. echo.>c:\ws1stgo.zen
      2. Using REGEDT32 add the following values:
        1. LegalNoticeCaption:REG_SZ
        2. LegalNoticeText:REG_SZ
          1. The text I have used for the caption is: Don't Panic...
          2. The text I used for the text contains a line-feed. You need to paste the content of the file lfcr.txt to make it do a line-feed. This file contains two bytes and needs to be saved onto your workstation in order for it to work properly...
          3. The text itself is:
          4. This computer has just been refreshed.
          5. To complete the refresh you will need to log-in twice."
      3. I copied three bitmaps to indicate that the machine is in refresh-state, C:\WINNT\WINNT.BMP, WINNT256.BMP, NWELCOME.BMP. They basically contain the normal image with "refreshing computer..." superimposed.
  17. Boot into DOS
  18. Transfer DOS to the disk
    1. SYS C:
  19. [Top] Copy GHOST.EXE to C: (the FAT partition)
  20. Make C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT (Whole command on ONE line) (You can use: COPY CON AUTOEXEC.BAT and type the line, press [Return], [F6], [Return] to save.)
  21. Make C:\CONFIG.SYS
    1. SWITCHES=/F/N
  22. [Top] Create the file A:\BOOTSECT.DOS
    1. Create C:\TMP with the following text:
      1. L 100 2 0 1
      2. N A:\BOOTSECT.DOS
      3. R BX
      4. 0
      5. R CX
      6. 200
      7. W
      8. Q
    2. A:DEBUG < C:\TMP
    3. DEL C:\TMP
  23. Boot the machine into NT
  25. Remove Microsoft Networking
    1. Right Click on the Network Neighborhood
    2. Select Properties
    3. Select Services - Tab
    4. Remove Workstation Service - This also removes "Computer Browser"
    5. Remove Server Service
    6. Remove RPC Service
    7. When you close the Network Properties, it will ask you if you want to reboot, say NO.
  26. [Top] Logout (We're doing this, so the preference for the Student is to log-out, not shutdown!)
  27. Insert a Bootable DOS floppy
  28. Press [Ctrl] + [Alt] + [Del]
  29. Choose Shutdown & Restart
  30. [Top] Run GHOST to create an NTFS image of your machine
    1. Local/Server
    2. Dump partition(s) to image file...
    3. Set NTFS to Y
    4. Save As: NTFS.GHO
    5. Compress FAST
    6. Proceed
  31. Run GHOST again to verify the image (you're going to be using it for a long time)
    1. Local/Server
    2. Check image file integrity...
    3. Choose NTFS.GHO
    4. Proceed
  32. [Top] Lockup all the files on the DOS partition
    1. ATTRIB +s +r +h C:\*.*
  33. [Top] Done (actually, you'll want to boot off a DOS network floppy and copy your ghost image to a server. (So when all hell breaks loose, you can recreate the system :-)

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