It is a travesty that in 2010 I still have to use a floppy disk to initiate a rebuild of most of my workstations. This frustration is compounded by the fact that on at least half of the occasions I need to rebuild a workstation, the floppy drive has long since packed up. Of those incidents, most are on machines that do not support USB floppy drives, so I have to swap out the internal drive.

CC3, I hate you more with every passing day.

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

13 responses to “Antiquity”

  1. Mike says :

    Ah yes I reacall the fun of rebuilding entire suites where the little darlings had filled every single floppy drive with chewing gum/money/crisp packets/etc.

    I always found the HP Drive Key Boot Utility (also works on non HP sticks) to be a great way around this, simply feed it a current build disk and a memory stick and it’ll present you with a nicely formatted build stick ready to go.

    This of course assumes that your machines can boot from USB, half of mine couldn’t (this was a few years back!)

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Yep, used that in the past, but you’ve already spotted the problem – virtually none of my machines can boot from a USB stick.

    • Dale says :

      “where the little darlings had filled every single floppy drive with chewing gum/money/crisp packets/etc. ”

      Adding to the etc., paperclips are another favourite.

  2. Lukas Beeler says :

    I don’t understand anything about the software schools use, so take this with a large dose of salt.

    Wouldn’t it be possible to start whatever deployment solution you currently use, wait till it has filled the disk and reboots for the installation to begin, and at that point in time capture an image using imagex?

    I’ve converted our entire Point of Sale rollout infrastructure, which mostly consisted of removing hard drives and plugging them into machines running ancient versions of Norton Ghost to a WDS server that deploys images using Windows PE 2 and ImageX.

    • AngryTechnician says :

      It has certainly occurred to me, but some of these machines are not even capable of PXE boot, either by omission or because it simply doesn’t work. My Windows 7 clients already work this way, using WDS to deploy a base image, and GPO Software Deployment does 99% of the rest.

      I am planning a massive overhaul this summer to rip out the antiquated RM system we are using and go Windows 7 site wide. If that wasn’t on the horizon I would be putting more effort into an alternative to the current setup, but for now I only have the time to curse it.

  3. Adrian Taylor says :

    I’ve been using FOG for the last 2 years. Works like a dream for me.

  4. Charlie says :

    I ditched the CC3 floppy disk build routine many years ago since I got so fed up with floppy drives not working (usually damaged by students), floppy disks that would only work a couple of times (at best), the excruciatingly slowness of floppy disks in general and having to find DOS drivers for NICs. What a PITA that is.

    We now use WinPE and ImageX (either via a USB flash drive or PXE) plus a SysPrep’d Windows XP to ‘SmartClient’ the PC and then install all the relevant drivers automatically. Total time to re-install Windows is now down to around 1-2 minutes. Then it’s just a case of running the MakeCC.vbs script to start the build process (which IMO is fairly archaic too).

    Like you, our school may be ditching CC3 this summer and going the vanilla Windows 7 route instead of CC4. I’m really looking forward to the day that happens.

  5. webman says :

    The CC3 build process is actually rather good when it works – correct drivers and all.

    We use the Netac USB drives which emulate a physical USB floppy drive. Works flawlessly on machines of all ages.

  6. xRMbod says :

    Have you tried copying the disk once created to a USB stick and booting your station that to initiate a rebuild?

  7. Nielpeel says :

    Nowadays we tend to buy none-RM hardware due to the much lower cost.

    New machines are initially smart-cliented after a fresh install of the OS (to eradicate all the trash that OEM system builders pollute Windows with), then we regularly create a restore image to facilitate quicker rebuilds if necessary…

    Bit of a bugger if a hard drive fails though, might take a look at FOG, sounds useful.

    • AngryTechnician says :

      Our last hardware purchase was also non-RM and SmartClient-ed. I have an image of the build immediately before running the SmartClient installer, so those rebuilds are MUCH quicker.

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