At my last two companies, and my current company I have implemented probably the best open source OS and software deployment platform ever created. It's called Fog, and I have blogged about it in the past. It's free, and completely awesome. With it you can boot to PXE, re-image workstations, wipe drives, blank passwords, deploy software packages, and remap printers. It really is great!
The only issue with it is it requires a client service to run on computers you wish to manage. Once installed, everything in your life gets easier. The trick is to get that service on workstations silently, in mass quantities, and have it configured correctly! I have yet to find a tutorial on how to do this, so here you go.
In order to do this correctly, you will need to re-package the MSI file for the Fog Client Service installation. You can do that with a free tool called Winstall LE.
- Open Winstall LE, right click on Windows Installer Packages and select Import Package
- Browse to the Fog Client MSI, and give it a description of Fog Silent
- Right click Fog Slient and Select Decompress...
- At the Expand dialog, click Expand
- Expand the Fog Silent tree, and delete the following components because you don't need them:
- Now browse to \\localhost\WinINSTALL\Packages\fog silent\etc
- Edit the config.ini file so it has the IP address or FQDN of your fog server under ipaddress= then save it
- Go back to Winstall LE, right click on Fog Silent and select Compress, then press the Compress button
- Now browse to \\localhost\WinINSTALL\Packages\fog silent\ and your FOG Service Installer.msi file is ready to deploy!
- Place the new FOG Service Installer.msi and the original setup.exe in a fileshare that is accessible by everyone. I created a deploy Samba share on my Fog server.
- Now open Group Policy Management on your domain controller and create a new Group Policy Object called something clever like Fog Deploy
- Right click on Fog Deploy and select Edit
- Navigate to Computer Configuration > Policies > Software Settings > Software Installation
- Right click on Software Installation and select New > Package
- Browse to your file share, and select your custom Fog Service Installer.msi file and select Open
- Leave the Assigned radio button checked and click OK
- Now link your new GPO to the OU where you keep the workstations you want to manage with Fog, and you're good to go!
- Users will get the install the next time they reboot, and even better it will be automatically configured!
For some reason Fog doesn't talk about how to do a custom deploy of their client in their documentation. They do say you can do a silent install using the setup.exe package which is nice, but it doesn't have switches for autoconfiguration, and it puts an annoying tray icon that is pretty much useless in the users system tray. My method makes Fog completely transparent, and it is pre-configured at install. Plus, since it uses the MSI file, we can deploy it using Active Directory!