The System Preparation Tool (Sysprep) removes the unique elements of a fully installed computer system so that it can be duplicated using third-party imaging software such as Ghost or Drive Image Pro. You can use Sysprep to provide an answer file for "imaged" installations. The target computers must have the same Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) as the original cloned computer and use the same disk controller type.
Sysprep.exe must be extracted from deploy.cab in the \support\tools folder on the Windows XP Professional CD-ROM. It adds a mini-setup wizard to the image file that is run the first time the computer it is applied to is started.
Sysprep guides the user through re-entering user specific data. This process can be automated by providing a script file. You can use the Setup Manager Wizard (SMW) to create a sysprep.inf file. SMW creates a Sysprep folder in the root of the drive image and places sysprep.inf in this folder. The mini-setup wizard checks for this file when it runs.
You can specify a cmdlines.txt file in your sysprep.inf file to allow an administrator to run commands or programs during the mini-Setup portion of Sysprep.
If you want to activate a copy of Windows XP through Sysprep you will need to do so through an answer file.
Four modes have been added to Sysprep under Windows XP:
- Audit: lets a system builder boot up and verify that the operating system is configured properly while running in factory floor mode.
- Factory: used to customize a pre-install on the factory floor by using a Bill of Materials file to automate software installations, software, and driver updates, updates to the file system, the registry and INI files such as sysprep.inf. Invoked via the sysprep -factory command.
- Reseal: used by an OEM after running Sysprep in factory mode to prepare a system for delivery to a customer. Invoked using sysprep -reseal command. You can send the customer to the mini-setup wizard or OOBE screen by using the -mini and -msoobe switches respectively.
- Clean: used to clean out the critical device database. Only those devices installed in the computer are left intact. Invoked using the sysprep -clean command.
Next: Sysprep Switches