SysMan Build Key
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:
- 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.
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.
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 supported.* In most cases, we can add support for other models upon request.
|Dell Latitude D620||Yes||No||No|
|Dell Latitude D820||Yes||No||Yes|
|Dell Latitude 6400||Yes||No||No|
|Dell Latitude 6410||Yes||Yes||No|
|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 E6420||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dell Latitude E6430||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 6430U||Yes||Yes||No|
|Dell Optiplex 210L||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||Requires BIOS A06 or newer|
|Dell Optiplex 980||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dell Optiplex 990||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dell Optiplex 3010||Yes||Yes||No|
|Dell Optiplex 7010||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Dell Optiplex 9010||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 T1500||Yes||Yes||No|
|Dell Precision T1600||Yes||Yes||No|
|Dell Precision T3500||Yes||Yes||No|
|Dell Precision T3600||Yes||Yes||No|
|Dell Precision T5600||Yes||Yes||No|
|Dell Vostro 2420||Yes||Yes||No|
|Dell XPS 13||Yes||Yes||Yes||Requires wired connection via docking station during build; Not supported in CLM|
|Dell XPS L521X||Yes||Yes||No|
|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.
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:
|Epson Perfection 1270||Yes||-|
|Epson Perfection 2400||Yes||-|
|Epson Perfection 3170||Yes||-|
|Epson Perfection 3490||Yes||-|
|Epson Perfection 4180||Yes||-|
|Epson Perfection 4490||Yes||-|
|Epson Perfection 4870||Yes||-|
|Epson Perfection V200||Yes||-|
|Epson Perfection V300||Yes||-|
|Epson Perfection V500||Yes||-|
|Graphtec 600 Pro||Yes||-|
|Wacom Pen Display||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.
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 April 23, 2013
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