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Windows IT Pro UPDATE--Customizing Windows Vista Deployments--August 23, 2005

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A Robust Combination from Symantec



1. Commentary
- Customizing Windows Vista Deployments

2. Hot Off the Press
- Torvalds Involved in Linux Trademark Battle

3. Peer to Peer
- Profile Deletion
- Tip: How do I import data into Active Directory (AD) or an Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM) instance from a comma-separated value (.csv) file?

4. New and Improved
- View Network Permissions

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==== 1. Commentary: Customizing Windows Vista Deployments ====
by Paul Thurrott, News Editor, [email protected]

In last week's Windows IT Pro UPDATE, I discussed Microsoft's newly released Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK) for Windows Vista Beta 1, which lets administrators and IT pros work with the company's new image-based setup and deployment tools. This week, I look at some of the ways in which you can customize installation images for Vista Beta 1.

Setup Manager
As with earlier Windows versions, you can use WAIK's Setup Manager to customize some aspects of a Vista installation. Although the WAIK version of Setup Manager creates XML files, the customization features haven't really changed much over earlier versions. In short, you can use Setup Manager to customize the End User License Agreement (EULA) acceptance, user name and organization, computer name, product key, various disk configuration options (including where to install Vista), and the standard "Run Once" list of commands that will run after the installation. If you've performed any type of automated installation of Windows in the past, these options should be familiar to you.

Customizing Live Images
The most exciting new deployment change with Vista, potentially, is that you can edit in place the Windows Image (WIM) installation files you've created, then save the changes to the existing image or as a new image.

Here's how the functionality works. The base Vista Beta 1 installation image is called install.wim and is located in the /sources/ directory of the Vista Beta 1 DVD by default. The other WIM file located in that directory, boot.wim, is the Windows Preinstallation Environment (WinPE), which you use to boot the DVD and load the Vista Beta 1 installation image onto your PC's hard disk; WinPE runs in RAM off the DVD.

To edit install.wim, copy it to the hard disk of a system on which you've installed WAIK. Then, use a command line window to navigate to the folder in which the WAIK tool ximage.exe is found. (There are separate versions for 32-bit x86 and 64-bit x64 versions of Windows Vista.) The first time you navigate to this folder, you need to install the WIM File System Filter (WIM FS Filter) driver. This tool lets you navigate through the file system of a mounted Vista installation image in Windows Explorer as if it where already installed on the PC. To install the driver, open Windows Explorer, locate the file called wimfltr.inf (which is in the same folder as ximage.exe), right-click it, and select Install.

Now you're ready to mount a Vista installation image so that you can view and customize it in Windows Explorer. You use Ximage's mount (view only) and mountwr (read/write) commands to accomplish this. If your install.wim file is stored in C:\images and you want to mount the image in C:\mount, you'd use the following command:

ximage /mountwr c:\mount c:\images\install.wim 1

Now, you can customize the image, in place, by simply navigating through its file structure in Windows Explorer. If you open a My Computer window and navigate to C:\mount, you'll see the standard Vista Beta 1 installation folder structure spread out before you, with the following folders present in the root:

Documents and Settings
Program Files

Note that the bizarre combination of mixed case and multiple words in a single folder name will likely change by the final release of Vista; Microsoft is working to ensure that most system folders use simple names (e.g., Users) instead of the complex names of the past, such as "Documents and Settings."

If you want to add files or even entire directory structures to the resulting Windows installation, simply add them wherever appropriate within the mounted image. (I've had mixed results doing this: Often, dragging files over in Windows Explorer doesn't work, but copy-and-paste operations seem to work more consistently.) You can also view the contents of files within the image and edit individual files where needed.

When you finish making changes to the image, unmount the image--which removes it from the namespace of the Windows shell on your PC--and save your changes (if any). To unmount the image without saving any changes, simply type the following command:

ximage /unmount c:\mount

Typically, you'll want to save the changes, however, so you'll need to add the commit command to the previous command-line sequence. If you use the following command sequence, ximage will write the changes back to the original file (Note that this process could take a while because the install.wim file is larger than 820MB by default):

ximage /unmount /commit c:\mount

Before you edit an image, you should make a copy of it and edit the copy. This, after all, is one of the biggest benefits of image-based deployment tools. Because the images are single files, they're easy to manipulate in the file system.

Well, I'm out of space once again, but I hope this basic tutorial has whetted your appetite for the deployment changes in Vista. I hope to speak to Microsoft soon about how these tools will evolve over subsequent betas--the command line stuff works fine but is needlessly arcane in my mind--and I'll report back soon about that. If you have any questions about Vista deployment, please drop me a note.


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==== 2. Hot Off the Press ====
by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Torvalds Involved in Linux Trademark Battle
In a move that was originally considered controversial in the open-source community, Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux OS, has begun protecting his trademark for the term Linux. The computer genius says he's doing so to protect users from unauthorized and confusing use of the term. But critics are worried that Torvalds' move is too little, too late, because the Linux name has been widely used for more than a decade. Torvalds first trademarked Linux several years ago but has rarely defended its use. To read the rest of the article, visit the following URL:

==== Events and Resources ====
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October 31 - November 3, 2005, Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego. Microsoft and Windows experts present over 40 in-depth sessions with real-world solutions you can take back and apply today. Register by September 12 to save $100 off your conference registration and attend sessions at Microsoft Exchange Connections free!

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Based on real-world examples, this Web seminar will help C-level executives, as well as IT directors and managers, avoid common mistakes and give their organization a head start in ensuring a successful compliance implementation. Register today and find out how you can avoid the mistakes of others, improve IT security, and reduce the cost of continually maintaining and demonstrating compliance.

Roll Back Data to Any Point in Time: Not Just the Last Snapshot or Backup
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Defending against Internet criminals, spyware, phishing and addressing the points of risk that Internet-enabled applications expose your organization to can seem like an epic battle with Medusa. So how do you take control of these valuable resources? In this free Web seminar, you'll get the tools you need to help you analyze the impact Internet-based threats have on your organization and tools to aid you in the construction of Acceptable-Use Policies (AUPs).

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==== Instant Poll ====

Results of Previous Poll:
The voting has closed in Windows IT Pro's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "When you experience a system crash, do you click Send in the Windows Error Reporting (WER--formerly Dr. Watson) dialog box?" Here are the results from the 258 votes:
- 15% Always
- 44% Sometimes
- 41% Never

New Instant Poll:
The next Instant Poll question is, "In your opinion, what's the number one automatic defragmenter on the market?" Go to the Windows IT Pro home page and submit your vote for a) Diskeeper, b) O & O Software Defrag, c) Raxco PerfectDisk, d) Winternals Defrag Manager, or e) Other.

==== 4. Peer to Peer ====

Featured Thread: Profile Deletion

Forum user Fleitenmaus wants to know whether there's any real difference between deleting a user's folder from C:\documents and settings and deleting the user profile via System Properties, Advanced, User, Profiles. If you can help, join the discussion at the following URL:

Tip: How do I import data into Active Directory (AD) or an Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM) instance from a comma-separated value (.csv) file?
by John Savill,

Find the answer at the following URL:

==== Announcements ====
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==== 4. New and Improved ====
by Adam Carheden, [email protected]

View Network Permissions
NuView recently announced MyView, security software that lets an enterprise's administrators, auditors, and end users view all the files each individual has permission to access. MyView can help administrators correctly configure permissions. It can let users view shared files they have access to without having to sort through the ones they don't have access to. MyView supports multiple views of files, including organizing them by owner, department, location, and permissions. MyView is also an excellent tool to demonstrate to auditors that permissions are applied consistently the enterprise.

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