Saturday, October 27, 2007

Lenovo (formerly IBM) Thinkpad and Ghosting

Imaging ThinkPads with Symantec GHOST

Here is a situation where Tech does byte: I have traditionally made IBM, now Lenovo Thinkpads the main laptops for our company. We also maintain a smaller fleet of Panasonic ToughBooks. What I would usually do, is buy a lot of the same model and hardware type, build one and then use Microsoft Sysprep and then create an image of the laptop to copy to the other laptops. This made setup a bit faster than going through each one and load every program needed.

We had an aging fleet of T21 Thinkpads, so I started buying some X40, X41, T40, T41, and a bunch of the T60s. When we went to image the machine with Ghost, that worked OK. Then if you put that image back over the same machine that also worked; but if you tried copying the image to other machines, then at the boot you just got a blinking cursor at the top left and a black screen. No beep codes, no error messages, no Windows anything.

This at first was a real disappointment to me. At the same time, we had decided to look at Acronis also as an image deployment solution. Acronis seemed to work perfectly with the Thinkpads. There was one catch, if I wanted the same functionality as Ghost Enterprise Suite, I was going to have to fork over $5k instead of the $1.5k upgrade to Ghost (my cost here is based on how many licenses I had to buy). And the Ghost product did both Unicast and Multicast, where as with Acronis you had the multicast version, which indeed was cheaper than their Workstation product, but still more than the cost to upgrade Ghost.

Here is another piece of advice: "Don't listen to sales people too closely, look real hard before you buy". The sales guy we talked to at Acronis seemed to make it a point, how Acronis worked with the Thinkpads, and how Ghost would not. Now being a sales person, he could of known more about why I was having a problem with Ghost, or maybe it was an opportune line for him to get us to buy his product. In either case, I did not bite. I decided to go with Ghost and give it another try. Even if it did not work, the rati of PCs to Laptops made buying Ghost still a good value.

Here is the real answer though: After looking a little harder, and having a bit more time, I found the answer of how to Ghost these IBM laptops:

1. Build the first laptop. Do what ever you need to do. Install Software, updates, drivers, etc.
2. Sysprep your laptop with Microsoft's Sysprep (You have a little set up work for Sysprep itself).
3. Now, Sysprep shutdown the laptop, so boot it up, but make sure you get into CMOS (Thinkpads used the F1 key).
4. In CMOS, make sure you can boot to the CD ROM or whatever you are using to boot the laptop to use Ghost . I use Bart's PE with my licensed copy of Ghost32.exe.
5. Also, in CMOS, go into the Security section, then in the IBM Predesktop Area, and set the Access to IBM Predesktop to Disabled. This is the source machine.
6. Save changes, boot to your Imaging process.
7. Before you run Ghost, whether you are running from a batch or through the GUI interface, set the Option Switches to -IB.
8. Create Image and then you can boot and set the Predesktop back to Normal on that machine.
9. On the target machine do the same in CMOS disabling the Access to Predesktop area.
10. Apply your image.
11. Set the Presdesktop area back to normal on target machine.
12. Run the mini install that Sysprep creates and you should be in business.

If you are already using Acronis, I don't think you will have any problems. If you are using Ghost this seems to solve the problem.

Happy Ghosting!



Anonymous said...

What if the new Lenovo Think Center MT6075 does not have a Predesktop setting in security in BIOS? Will the Ghost -IB still work?

Delco said...

I have only had to do this when we have had a problem. Also, we noticed that in a couple of cases, after we did everything that is stated above, we had a few that still did not boot - what we did then, was Old School - we booted with a floppy (usb), and an old Win98 boot disk with FDISK, and ran FDISK /MBR to fix the boot record.

The following is from Symantec's site:
When creating an image or copying disk to disk, the -IB switch (Image Boot) forces a sector-by-sector copy, and copies the entire boot track; not just the boot sector.

Use this switch when applications, such as some boot-time utilities, use the boot track to store information.

* You cannot perform partition-to-partition or partition-to-image operations with the -IB switch.
* Partition sizes cannot be altered when using the -IB switch.

Anonymous said...

I had the same problem, the cursor just blinking after ghosting. However, I got it to work if I performed the ghosting using the bootable Norton Ghost Recovery Disk on the target computer.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone recommend the top performing MSP software for a small IT service company like mine? Does anyone use or How do they compare to these guys I found recently: N-able N-central network monitoring
? What is your best take in cost vs performance among those three? I need a good advice please... Thanks in advance!

Delco said...

To Anonymous, I really don't like managed services per se; so I cannot speak to your specific question. The only thing I have used to do remote help (outside the controlled enterprise network) is Logmein. Inside the enterprise, I have numerous tools available to do all those things.

Someone else got advise?


Anonymous said...

Exactly what I was looking for, thank you. I was wondering why the #%@ it wasn't working. All I was trying to do was replace the 120GB disk with a 500GB disk but it would just blink.

Thank you again, worked like a charm.