Prerequisites for Network Installation of Windows XP

Before you start

Objectives: Learn what is RIS server and which commands can be used to start the installation from the network share.

Prerequisites: no prerequisites.

Key terms: network, installation, boot, ris, server, share, files, create, updates, clients, command

Network Installation

Installations performed from the installation source which is located on the network is great if we have a lot of computers which we have to install simultaneously. We can do network installation in several different ways.

The first method is to create a network share which contains all of the required installation files. From the destination computer we would connect to that network share and run the “winnt” command from there. This will start the remote installation.

The second method is to use Remote Installation Services (RIS) to automate network installations of Windows XP. When we use RIS, we connect to the RIS server with our client to download the necessary files and perform the installation. There are some requirements to successfully create RIS environment. We have to configure DHCP services on our RIS server. The clients have to be able to requests IP addresses from the RIS server. The RIS server also has to act as a DNS server. The clients will register themselves with the RIS server for the purpose of the installation. One other component that our RIS server has to have is Active Directory. On the RIS server we also have to create a remote installation image. This image will actually contain all the necessary files for the installation. All files from the i386 directory are included in this image. If we plan to install service packs automatically, we also have to have their folders available. To apply a service pack to the source installation files, we can use the Update.exe –s:[network_share] command and switch. This applies the service pack to the installation files in the network share. We can also take advantage of the dynamic update feature during the setup. We can download the updates to a network share, so if we don’t have access to Internet during the installation process, we can use special command switches to include the appropriate location where the updates are. For example, the /duprepare:[path to downloaded updates] switch will prepare the updates which are located on the network share. After that we can use the /dushare:[path to downloaded updates] switch which will force the setup process to install updates from a shared location instead of the Internet.

Network Boot

Clients have to be able to boot to our network in order to perform network installation. To do that, clients must have a PXE enabled network card. These NICs have the ability of booting the system. Also, network boot option must be enabled in BIOS. Normally we boot our computer using our hard drive, but in this case, we boot to the network. If we don’t have a NIC which supports PXE, we can create network boot floppies using the “Rbfg.exe” command (Remote Boot Disk Generator). The boot disk will simulate the PXE boot process.


We can do a network installation from the network share. Our computer must be able to boot to the network (PXE enabled). We can use RBFG.exe command to create network boot floppies. We can use Remote Installation Services to deploy prepared images to our clients.