Does this scenario sound familiar?
You just went to your first big IT infrastructure planning meeting of the year, and after many months of debating the pros and cons with you and your fellow cynical IT support workers, your all-powerful, all-knowing CIO told you to migrate your workstation and server infrastructure to Windows 2000.
After picking your underpaid and overworked rear end off the floor, real questions about migration surface. Why should your organization switch to Windows 2000? What are the gotchas? What are the things you need to know about enterprise Windows 2000 deployments that even Microsoft accredited training classes won't tell you? These are the questions I hope to help answer in this column, with specific, hands-on advice.
Slipstreaming away your troubles
Regardless of your Service Pack level, virtually every time you alter the base system configuration of any NT server (by adding protocols, devices, or services, for example) you need to load components from the \I386 directory from the proper Windows NT CD-ROM and then immediately re-install the current Service Pack. In some cases, and in particularly sophisticated NT configurations (such as installing IIS 4.0), you may need to do this several times to get all of your components up-to-date. Failure to do this sometimes results in a blue-screened machine after a system reboot, which is followed by a necessary re-installation of the operating system. What a nightmare!
In Windows 2000, the advent of Service Pack slipstreaming changes this practice for the better. Slipstreaming, also known as Integrated Installation Support in Microsoft's fine SP1 Deployment Guide, allows you to apply a Service Pack once to a server or workstation, copy the original ship-level Windows 2000 install files to a network share, and then integrate the Service Pack code into it. The next time you need to change the server's configuration — such as re-installation of a system component — the system doesn't need to have the Service Pack applied to it again (unless, of course, you change Service Pack levels). Additionally, if you are performing new Windows 2000 installations, it's also possible to install the OS with the Service Pack already integrated.
According to the Deployment Guide, removing and installing device drivers doesn't require re-installing actual system components. The initial Service Pack installation installs an updated supplement to the original DRIVER.CAB device driver archive, which resides on the system until it's needed again. But if you're re-installing major system components, you'll want to have a slipstreamed \I386 directory on your server or network ready.
The Windows 2000 Service pack README file and the Deployment Guide cover slipstreaming and Integrated Installation in greater detail, but the cheat sheet below will get you up and running faster.
Creating an Integrated Installation Sharepoint (Slipstreaming)
Copy the contents of the \I386 directory from the Windows 2000 CD-ROM to a
subdirectory on the server's hard disk or on a publicly available network
share, such as N:\WIN2000\I386.
Download the Service Pack from the Microsoft Web site (or copy it from the
CD-ROM) and extract it by running SP1network.exe -x from the command prompt.
You are then prompted to enter the path to the network share you have
created. Enter the full path to this share — for example, C:\SP1 — to
automatically extract the Service Pack files to that path.
Type C:\SP1\Update\Update.exe -s: N:\Win2000\I386 to slipstream the Service
Pack located in C:\SP1 to the Windows 2000 installation files located in the
distribution folder named N:\Win2000\i386.
Note: To run the Update.exe program from the Service Pack, you must have Windows 2000 running on your computer. You can't do it from Windows ME, 98, or NT 4.0.
Congratulations — you've now built your first Integrated Installation share. At this point, you can burn the newly updated \I386 to a CD-ROM, and you can use the original Windows 2000 boot diskette images from the Windows 2000 CD-ROM in \BOOTDISK should you need to install the OS from scratch.
If you're using Windows 2000 Remote Installation Services (a topic I plan to cover in the near future), be advised there is a known issue (Knowledgebase Article ID: Q258868) when trying to update CD-ROM RIS server images. You may encounter a file copy error with the UPDATE.EXE program because slipstreaming isn't currently supported for CD-ROM images. However, by following the instructions in the Knowledgebase article, you can create a new base image by running RISSETUP again and applying the correct path to your updated \I386 files.
Jason Perlow is a computer industry freelance writer covering Windows 2000 and Linux. He runs the New Jersey-based systems integration firm Argonaut Systems and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.