The SysMan build key is designed to eliminate the need for system administrators to create and maintain their own Windows 7 installation images, and serves as an easy point of entry for system administrators to completely automate their workstation build process. The build key has many great built-in features for building/provisioning computers:

USB Storage Drive

  • Fast - Answer a few questions and you can walk away while the build key does the rest. After the build key files are copied to the hard drive (about 5 minutes) and the system reboots, the key can be removed and used on the next workstation.
  • Secure - Sensitive files within the image are protected from from being accessed or tampered with by an unauthorized user, even if the media that contains the image is lost or stolen,  by using the password-protected encryption tool, TrueCrypt
  • Automated - The process automatically configures network settings, joins the domain, applies Windows Updates, and installed the BigFix client without any user intervention. With the BigFix client installed, you can automate your software installation process too!
  • Easy - For CLM lab computers, a standard computer naming and addressing scheme based on the Unit/Department, Building, and Room is used to help save time and reduce the number of headaches caused by forgetting the IP settings for large numbers of workstations. Using the build key is a perfect task for student and work study employees.
  • Repairable - The build key creates a special hidden partition that contains imaging files for performing automatic rebuilds remotely without any user intervention. No PXE booting necessary!
  • No DVD Burner Required - Imaging is done using a bootable USB thumb drive, which is faster and more reliable than imaging with DVDs.

Imaging on a Diet

In the past, many IT professionals used disk imaging tools, such as Symantec Ghost, to capture and close a system that was preconfigured with all the software installed. Such images were typically 50GB+ in size and, in some cases, could only be used on a specific workstation model. This process is sometimes referred to as fat imaging. The SysMan build key is not a fat image. Instead, the build key uses a thin imaging technique, whereby the only component included in the image is the operating system itself. All customization, including installing software, is performed after the OS has been configured. In fact, the SysMan build key uses a completely unmodified image from the Windows 7 installation media. There are several timesaving advantages to this technique:

  • The images are much smaller, so they can be applied faster.
  • There is no need to maintain multiple images based on the target model, or intended end user
  • Since there is no additional software in the image, it does not need to be "unsealed" and "resealed" in order to apply application updates and patches.
  • Leaving the image intact promotes better quality control and less risk of unintended or forgotten modifications propagating to end user systems.

Once the operating system image is applied to the hard drive, Windows Setup takes over and handles initial configuration. After this has completed, the SysMan build key tools install the Tivoli Endpoint Management Client, which can be used to remotely deploy software packages and system settings with far more flexibility than a fat image could ever do.

Post-Imaging Deployment

After the imaging process is completed, the Tivoli Endpoint Management client will register with the root server and subscribe to your division(s). This is where you can customize the build process to automatically deploy a set of applications and settings, much like you would with Group Policy Objects (GPOs), but with far more granularity. Software packages can be created and deployed through Tivoli Endpoint Manager. You can also use Tivoli Endpoint Manager throughout the lifecycle of the system to script system settings, apply OS and application patches, and perform software and hardware inventory.

32-bit and 64-bit

The build key is available in both a 32-bit and a 64-bit editions of Windows 7 (Professional and Enterprise). The 64-bit version of the build key is recommended for modern hardware with Intel Core series processors and greater than 4GB of RAM.

Supported Hardware

Generally, the SysMan build key supports all computer models that are part of Penn State's computer builk buy program. Below is a list of models that are currently supported.

Model 32-bit 64-bit Verified Notes
Dell Latitude D620 Yes No No  
Dell Latitude D630 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude D820 Yes No Yes  
Dell Latitude D830 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude 2100 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Latitude 2120 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude 6400 Yes No No  
Dell Latitude 6410 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E4300 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E5400 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E5410 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E5430 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Latitude E5510 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E5520 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E5530 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E6220 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E6320 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E6330 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E6400 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E6420 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Latitude E6430 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E6430U Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E6500 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Latitude E6510 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Latitude E6520 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Latitude E6530 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Latitude E6540 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Latitude E7240 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude E7440 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Latitude XT3 Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude 6430S Yes Yes No  
Dell Latitude 6430U Yes Yes No  
Dell Optiplex 210L Yes Yes No  
Dell Optiplex 330 Yes Yes No  
Dell Optiplex 360 Yes Yes No  
Dell Optiplex 380 Yes Yes No  
Dell Optiplex 390 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 580 Yes Yes No  
Dell Optiplex 745 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 755 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 760 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 780 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 790 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 960 Yes Yes Yes BIOS A06 or newer required
Dell Optiplex 980 Yes Yes Yes BIOS A14 or PS/2 keyboard recommended; use back USB ports
Dell Optiplex 990 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 3010 Yes Yes No  
Dell Optiplex 7010 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 9010 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 9010 AIO Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 9020 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Optiplex 9020 AIO Yes Yes No  
Dell Optiplex GX280 Yes No Yes  
Dell Optiplex GX620 Yes No Yes  
Dell Optiplex SX280 Yes No Yes  
Dell Precision 390 Yes No No  
Dell Precision M4800 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Precision M6600 Yes Yes No  
Dell Precision T1500 Yes Yes No  
Dell Precision T1600 Yes Yes No  
Dell Precision T1650 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Precision T1700 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Precision T3500 Yes Yes No  
Dell Precision T3600 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Precision T5500 Yes Yes No  
Dell Precision T5600 Yes Yes Yes  
Dell Precision T7500 Yes Yes No  
Dell Vostro 430 Yes Yes No  
Dell Vostro 2420 Yes Yes No  
Dell Vostro 3550 Yes Yes No  
Dell XPS 13 Yes Yes Yes Requires wired connection via docking station during build; Not supported in CLM
Dell XPS L321X Yes Yes No  
Dell XPS L322X Yes Yes No  
Dell XPS L421X Yes Yes No  
Dell XPS L521X Yes Yes No  
HP ProBook 6570b Yes Yes No  
Lenovo ThinkCentre M52 Yes No No  
Lenovo ThinkCentre MT-M Yes No No  
Lenovo ThinkPad T530 Yes Yes No  
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Yes Yes No  
Lenovo V490U Yes Yes No  
Lenovo X230T Yes Yes No  
Sony Vaio VGN-TZ170N Yes Yes Yes Bluetooth/Chipset drivers available via IBM Endpoint Manager
Microsoft Hyper-V Virtual Machine Yes Yes Yes Please contact us if you are interested in using the build key on Hyper-V
VMWare Virtual Machine Yes Yes Yes Please contact us if you are interested in using the build key on VMWare

*If model is not listed as "Verified" it means that we have added support for it but were not able to formally tested that model ourselves to confirm there are no missing device drivers or other unexpected issues. 

Adding Models

If a model is not listed in the above table, please send a request to SysMan [at] psu [dot] edu, and we will work with you to add support.

Supported Accessories

Drivers for common peripherals such as printers, scanners, and webcams are not included on the build key itself. Instead, provide BigFix tasks that can be used with the build key to install the drivers that you need. Pre-built tasks are available for the following peripherals:

Device 32-bit 64-bit
Epson GT-S80 Yes Yes
Epson GT-1500 Yes Yes
Epson GT-2500 Yes Yes
Epson GT-15000 Yes Yes
Epson GT-20000 Yes Yes
Epson GT-S50 Yes Yes
Epson DS-30 Yes Yes
Epson DS-510 Yes Yes
Epson DS-760 Yes Yes
Epson DS-860 Yes Yes
Epson DS-5500 Yes Yes
Epson DS-6500 Yes Yes
Epson DS-7500 Yes Yes
Epson DS-50000 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection 1270 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection 2400 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection 3170 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection 3490 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection 4180 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection 4490 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection 4870 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection V200 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection V300 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection V330 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection V500 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection V600 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection V700 Yes Yes
Epson Perfection V750 Yes Yes
Epson Expression 10000XL Yes Yes
Epson Expression 11000XL Yes Yes
Graphtec 600 Pro Yes Yes
Logitech C930e Yes Yes
Logitech Quickcam Yes Yes
Wacom Pen Display Yes Yes

If you need to install drivers for addition peripherals, we're happy to assist you with creating a BigFix task to deploy them, as long as there are signed Windows 7 drivers for the peripheral device.

How to Get Started

If you're interested in using the SysMan build key in your environment, please e-mail sysman [at] psu [dot] edu. We can help you get started, and give you additional guidance on best practices for designing an efficient build process.

Technical Documentation

For instructions on how to format and update a build key, issue a remote rebuild, and more, checkout the SysMan SharePoint site.
Note: You must be a SysMan user in order to access the SharePoint site.

Last Updated August 28, 2014