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Imaging Citrix Servers by BeerGood
Posted: 9 Jul 03 (Edited 31 Jul 03)

You can use ghost/powerquest/etc to clone a running Citrix server, but on top of what you need to do when preparing the server for imaging (eg running sysprep) there are a number of things you will need to do after restoring the image. For example, you shouldn't image the first server in the farm as it will probably have the data store on it (assuming you aren't using an external data store on, say, a SQL server). So generally people use the second server in a farm as the "donor" server to create the base image. For further details and an example of how to do this, go to www.citrix.com and check out CTX18194 "Imaging MetaFrame XP Using Ghost 6.5.1"

Personally, with anything less than a six or so server farm, I would setup one base operating system server with all your applications (eg Office) installed and standard config settings correct and then image it before installing Citrix.

To prepare a server for imaging, you can use the GhostWalker utility but I personally just use sysprep to remove much of the unique information on the donor computerÆs operating system. In fact Symantec suggest using either SysPrep alone or a combination of SysPrep and Ghostwalker if cloning an XP or 2k workstation/server.

When cloning a Windows 2000 or Windows XP installation, use Microsoft's System Preparation (SysPrep) tool.

Although Ghost successfully changes the SID on Windows 2000/XP computers, Microsoft's System Preparation (SysPrep) tool changes the SID and prompts Windows 2000/XP to rebuild its Plug-and-Play driver database. Rebuilding the driver database is a significant advantage because the rebuild decreases the amount of user intervention required at the client computers when the source computer and client computers do not have exactly the same hardware.

To use SysPrep instead of Ghost Walker or the SID Change option, see the document How to use SysPrep with Ghost. Note that SysPrep requires an additional restart after cloning.

Symantec does not provide technical support for SysPrep. SysPrep is written, maintained, and supported by Microsoft.

Here are additional advantages to using SysPrep:
  • It invokes the Windows 2000/XP Setup Wizard, which is normally only seen during installation. The Wizard enables you to enter details regarding new users, licensing information, and other identification information.

  • It allows you to install different drivers for the hard disk controller on the first startup after cloning. When the client computer requires different hard drive controller drivers than the source computer, the new drivers are loaded before the Plug and Play detection begins.

  • It can be configured to have Windows 2000/XP to rebuild its Plug-and-Play driver database on the first startup after cloning. The rebuild process removes drivers for devices that are not on the client computer and adds Windows drivers for devices that are on the client computer but were not on the source computer.

  • It supports most of the unattended installation parameters, including computer name, domain, and network settings. These parameters are command-line arguments for the Windows installation command.

  • It can be configured to run automatically, without having to visit the client computers.

Anyhoo, for Windows 2000, the required SysPrep.exe and setupcl.exe files are located in \support\tools\deploy.cab on the Microsoft install CD (you can use utilities such as Winzip/UltimateUnzip to extract the files). Both of these files need to be copied to the C:\SysPrep folder. (Important: Microsoft strongly recommends that computers that will be prepared using SysPrep should not be members of domains, but rather should be members of workgroups.) Then - assuming the server is setup as you wish - open up a command prompt then go to the sysprep directory and run sysprep.exe. The unique info will be wiped, the sysprep directory deleted, and the server shut down. Now use ghost/powerquest/whatever to image the server. Note - do NOT let the donor computer actually start to run off the hard drive otherwise you will need to run sysprep again.

I would then use that image to create the servers (and of course you could use that image for other purposes as well) and then join the server(s) to the domain (if required) and then manually create the new farm and install Citrix on the boxes. Adding/installing new Citrix servers to a farm is very quick and hard (if not impossible) to get wrong. Manually modifying text files etc after restoring an imaged Citrix server is "fraught with danger" if you don't do it all the time.....

After you have setup the farm, you might also want to image each of the servers to create a backup of the things that you can use to quickly restore any of them at a later date should you need to.


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