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Windows 7: Sysprep for creating "master" image?

22 Dec 2014   #1

Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
Sysprep for creating "master" image?

I have a Windows 7 image that was created to be distributed to many locations around the country. Because of the licensing/windows activation issue, it becomes a problem because using Clonezilla would be ideal for us, but with the licensing, we of course get errors. I was recommended to try using Sysprep.

Originally, I was giving a PC with just Windows 7 and the Administrator account on there. I put together a Powershell script that "builds" our PC by adding all our users, applications, various software changes, PCI compliance, et al. When the image is done, we have the Administrator account, plus two user accounts. That is the final image we'd like to be able to just burn using Clonezilla and I tried using Sysprep, but am not quite following what I need to go to get it to work.

Here is what I did try - I first booted up the "basic" image, opened Sysprep and choose "Audit mode", left "Generalize" unchecked, and "Quite". Hit Okay for that to apply. Next, I ran my Powershell script without letting the system reboot at all. Then opened Sysprep one more time and again chose "Audit mode", this time checking "Generalize" and "Shutdown". I then used an ISO/Clonezilla to save that image to a server. Upon booting the PC back up, I noticed it tried to log back in as "Administrator" (my Powershell script changes the admin password). I pressed Enter and then saw that "Administrator" was the only account option - my two user accounts were not there. Logged in with the proper admin password and the Sysprep GUI still comes up. At this point, I just hit Cancel to close that GUI, ran our Group Policy Master on the system and then chose "Log off". It again only gave me "Administrator", but there was a "Switch User" option. Chose that and it then showed me my two user accounts, but the Administrator account was now gone.

Sorry for being long-winded here, but what I'm looking to do is build our image, save it to a server using Clonezilla and then be able to burn that image to many PCs to go out to our various locations. These PCs should boot up out of the box to three accounts - Administrator, User1 and User2 - and Sysprep should no longer come up.

Can anyone tell me what steps I am missing and/or messing up here?

Thank you!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
22 Dec 2014   #2
Layback Bear

Windows 10 Pro. 64/ version 1709 Windows 7 Pro/64

I'm lacking the knowledge to help you but I did find a tutorial by Kari that might help you.

Believe me Kari know a lot more than I do on the subject.

What Windows 7 system are you using and what method of activation have you been using.

System Preparation Tool - Use to Customize Windows
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Dec 2014   #3

Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit

Thanks - this somewhat points me in the correct direction. The tutorial seems to be all about how to build an image from scratch. I have the image, I now just need sysprep to strip the unique identifiers, but leave the rest of the image intact, so that we can burn the image with Clonezilla.

I tried taking an unattend.xml and paring it down to what I thought I needed and then using step 2.6 of Kari's tutorial, but that seems to actually want to create the entire image from scratch. So I'm back to the drawing board trying to learn Sysprep and xml on my own.

The system is Windows 7 32-bit (due to some older-than-the-hills applications of our own that need to stay on the system). License activation is done with... I don't recall the correct term, but the PCs automatically try to sync up with the licensing server every 180 days?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

23 Dec 2014   #4
Layback Bear

Windows 10 Pro. 64/ version 1709 Windows 7 Pro/64

I have went back to the ranch and asked for some help from other members.

Do you have a I.T. department and have you confided with them with what you are trying to do?

This sounds like some sort of volume license Enterprise server. They normally have a I.T. department that takes care of such things.

From post #3

the PCs automatically try to sync up with the licensing server every 180 days?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
02 Jan 2015   #5

Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit

I am in IT, but specific to the PCs and machines we use. Our separate Corporate IT dept is who provides us with the PCs I am needing to use for this project. I never remember the name of how the license is obtained, other than it needs to communicate with another server out of the box and then every 180 days. We are trying to avoid having to completely build a server with our image every time one needs to be sent (currently takes 3.5 hours just because of all the patches that need to run for PCI compliance). Being able to use Clonezilla would take maybe 15 minutes and could then be handled by out Depot. But with the SLIC being built into these Windows 7 systems, we have been told that the only way to use Clonezilla would be if we used Sysprep in making our image. The problem we are running into is simply trying to find the correct time to use Sysprep and the correct commands for it to do what we need - to leave our User Accounts alone, leave the Administrator account available and not add the "Eric-PC" (or whatever name you supply) when the ever-so-helpful Windows Welcome screen pops up - at least so far when we've been using Sysprep. No one seems to be able to find an article yet specific to using Sysprep to create an image that can then be used over and over via Clonezilla, but we've been told it's possible. So far, it's just been trial and error - build an image, try another Sysprep command until we stumble upon the correct command or combination of commands that does what we need. Very frustrating when you have to burn the image back and re-build it every time before you can even test the next Sysprep command.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Sysprep for creating "master" image?

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