Is FOG for us?
[B]tl;dr[/B] - Currently using Ghost 11.x on 700 PCs, looking to move to something that is 1) affordable and 2) uses a single, hardware-independent image, within a centrally manged, console type environment.
[B]Long (really long) Version:[/B]
Some information about our organization and my role within it.
I work for a small private college with about 1200 students, and probably 300-350 combined faculty and staff. We’ve got a fleet of about 450-500 desktops across campus, with five standardized models: Dell 745, 755, HP DC5800, 6000, and 6200. And approximately 200 laptops across four models: Latitude D630, Probook 6530b, 6450b, 6460b. There are multiple labs in various campus buildings on a few different vlans. I have a switch in my office that somehow interfaces across them all for ghosting.
My IT department consists of seven people, the director, associate director/network admin, web programmer, LMS Programmer, DBA, helpdesk manager, and myself, the lowly “Computer Support Specialist” …I’m kind of a jack of all trades, I guess you could say. I went into the job thinking I’d be doing paper jams and viruses, and telling people to try turning it off and on again. Next thing you know, I’m also administering our backupexec server, antivirus (sophos) server, as well as in charge of image deployment.
I’ve no training in windows administration/deployment, nay, I actually have an MBA. After an extended period of unemployment, I realized my business degree was worthless, and took this position. The only IT cert I have is A+, which I tested for (and passed >90%) just a couple days after I applied for my current position, because I thought it would help get the job. I want you to understand that I’m bottom-rung as far as IT goes, with almost no training, and I don’t take myself too seriously, but I like to think I’m bright and a fast learner (especially around here where it’s sink or swim, trial-by-fire).
Our current deployment system works out quite well for the most part. Our Ghost server (Ghost 11.02.XX …I want to say it’s from around 2008) provides a nice managed-console solution where I can keep everything sorted by various machine groups based on hardware profile and location, I can remotely install the client software onto our AD machines, it’s easy to use, etc, etc. But it’s a hassle to manage 9 different hardware-specific images. I can only manage to update my images about twice a year, and I’d really like to stay more current than that. When I do update our images, it takes hours and hours.
Our imaging process is pretty straightforward, I believe. We’re only deploying Windows 7 now. I push an image out, push out a netdom batch file to join it to the domain (so long as we’re using the windows ghost client and not a USB boot drive, ghost remembers the host name and retains that across to the new image), then theres’s another batch file I push out to deploy sophos antivirus to the machines, and lastly the batch file to install the pertinent network printers. With multicasting I can refresh a 24-computer lab in about 40 minutes, start to finish, so long as I stay on it and remember to keep the commands executing in quick succession. Multicasting works great now that we gutted our network last summer and replaced it with all new switches (that was like a quarter-million dollar project right there). Prior to the infrastructure upgrade, multicasting gagged the switches and we couldn’t use it.
In looking at what other solutions were out there, I compared SmartDeploy with MDT2010/WDS/SCCM. SmartDeploy was affordable and made things really easy, but really just eased the process of creating the .wim file and took care of driver injection. The deployment would then need to either be WDS with SCCM if I wanted a centrally managed environment, otherwise you individually boot each machine via USB…sucky. MDT/WDS is still an option, and free, at that, so I was ready to go with that.
Then someone said, “what about FOG?”
And here I am. I’ve read most of the install wiki, I’ve seen a few youtube vids of installation and deployment, and it looks like it could be pretty slick.
Given the scenario I’ve laid out there, do you think this could be a project worth undertaking? I don’t even have any “sell this to the management” issues, I think this will be a sure thing so long as I can get it working in proof of concept at least. I thought what I’d start with is a simple install with some of our current ghost images (just push it out to a machine with ghost and re-capture using FOG.) just to sort of replicate our current setup, then I could worry about making one golden image with all the drivers and the advanced sysprep and scripting that would go into getting us all the way home as far as our ultimate goal.
Any thoughts, opinions, and advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
I will be able to chime in more later today. But, the long and short is yes, FOG will work just fine with your size company and everything that you want to do. Take a look at this posting I had with another user, and that can get you going on some things. [url]http://fogproject.org/forum/threads/looking-for-fog-institutions-nearby-minneapolis-st-paul.221/#post-864[/url]
Thanks, yep I saw that, just wanted to see if there were any special “Gotcha!” in my situation. If I have time in the next week or two I’ll do a bench test with it, get it working to the extent that I have Ghost working now, then tackle the challenge of getting a single golden master to send out to all platforms ready.
You won’t be the first educational establishment using this product, there are hundreds using it. We are a large University in the UK and have been using FOG for about 3 years to deploy Windows XP/7 to a large mixture of hardware (roughly 3500 computers). We have our main fog server (web,database,pxe server) on the central site and several storage nodes on remote sites. The storage nodes keep the bulk of the traffic at remote sites. Large corporations are also using FOG, I was at Cisco’s head office in a UK a few months ago and noticed that they were using FOG to deploy operating systems in their training labs.
I can remember people having some issues with using FOG on some dell computers in the past. My advice to you would be to setup a server, and test the product on your computers, if it works, make the switch. Why waste money on Ghost.
Thanks, Raff, I appreciate you taking the time to stop in and give me that information. So I take it FOG is probably on the up-swing in it’s product cycle. One thing I didn’t want to do was switch over to a system that is then defunct with no development in a year or two.
We’ve been using fog for 3 years on 3000+ XP\Win7 on about 10 different models of Dell PCs. Other than occasional tweaking it woks like a charm. We use one image for XP and one for WIN7 for all models (excluding one or two laptop models). We also use driver packs for driver integration.
Holy crap, glad to see it’s scalable to such large numbers. Makes my 650-700 seem like peanuts!
I’m getting ready to just start dipping my toes in the water with a small-scale bench deployment.
Downloading Ubuntu 11.1 desktop edition (I wanted a GUI since I barely know linux, it makes me feel better.) --would it be a lot better to install server for the full deployment? or does it not matter much?
Second, for my test run, all I’ve got for hardware is a Dell 745, which is a midrange Core2Duo, with 2GB RAM. I think this should be fine but wanted to make sure.
Are there any problems with Ubuntu 11 and FOG that I should be aware of?
Any tips and tricks would be appreciated.
OH and can you expound a bit more about “driver packs” ? The only time I’ve heard these referenced was with SmartDeploy but it was specific to their product. I am not well-versed with driver injection/AIK/Sysprep at all, I do a very basic Sysprep when I split off our 9 models from the main master, but that’s it.
[COLOR=#141414][FONT=Tahoma][quote=“matt314159, post: 1082, member: 414”]Holy crap, glad to see it’s scalable to such large numbers. Makes my 650-700 seem like peanuts![/quote][/FONT][quote=“matt314159, post: 1082, member: 414”][/quote][/COLOR][quote=“matt314159, post: 1082, member: 414”]
[COLOR=#141414][FONT=Tahoma]I’m getting ready to just start dipping my toes in the water with a small-scale bench deployment.[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#141414][FONT=Tahoma]Downloading Ubuntu 11.1 desktop edition (I wanted a GUI since I barely know linux, it makes me feel better.) --would it be a lot better to install server for the full deployment? or does it not matter much? [/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#141414][FONT=Tahoma]Second, for my test run, all I’ve got for hardware is a Dell 745, which is a midrange Core2Duo, with 2GB RAM. I think this should be fine but wanted to make sure.[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#141414][FONT=Tahoma]Are there any problems with Ubuntu 11 and FOG that I should be aware of?[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#141414][FONT=Tahoma]Any tips and tricks would be appreciated.[/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#141414][FONT=Tahoma]OH and can you expound a bit more about “driver packs” ? The only time I’ve heard these referenced was with SmartDeploy but it was specific to their product. I am not well-versed with driver injection/AIK/Sysprep at all, I do a very basic Sysprep when I split off our 9 models from the main master, but that’s it.[/FONT][/COLOR][/quote][COLOR=#141414][FONT=Tahoma][/FONT][/COLOR]
[COLOR=#141414][FONT=Tahoma]Yes, the 745 will work we have several hundred. I haven’t try to run it on Ubuntu 11 but it works great on 10.4 LTS which you may want to use instead of 11 because it has long term support. Basically, I prepare the PC for imaging, download the driver packs to a folder named Dell. Run the [SIZE=5][B][FONT=Arial][COLOR=#990000][URL=‘http://www.vernalex.com/tools/spdrvscn/’][COLOR=#555555]SysPrep Driver Scanner[/COLOR][/URL][/COLOR][/FONT][/B][/SIZE] that enumerates the paths to the inf files and places the paths in the registry so windows can scan through and find the correct inf for the PC hardware, this step you only have to do once to get the drivers injected into the image. Then run sysprep. Good luck.[/FONT][/COLOR]
Thanks Jim. Yesterday before i headed home I put 11.1 on there, but it’s by no means too late to put 10.4 LTS on there. I haven’t even installed FOG. I will definitely go 10.4 LTS, especially if that puts me on a platform that’s shared across more users over here (easier for support, I would guess).
Another question: to have our DHCP server forward the machines on over to FOG for PXIE booting, we would need to configure options 66/67, to specify the server and tftp boot file… Our DHCP server is already configured with those options for our ShoreTel IP phone system we switched to this summer, as the phones download their configuration via tftp when they boot. Is that going to be an issue for us, or can we just configure a different scope to keep the phone system divorced from the image deployment system? This could potentially be a dealbreaker because I don’t want to doink around with mac filtering or anything like that, it needs to be as seamlessly integrated with our network as ghost currently is.
We have NEC ip phones but they didn’t require us to setup anything for them in the DHCP server. You may want to checkout this link.
Well I got FOG .32 installed and configured, went with 10.4 LTS and 1) I was amazed at how stupid-simple the installation was. 2) love the dashboard interface.
Now I just need to get our network guy to get the pxe boot options straightened out on our DHCP server and I’ll be ready to start messing with this more in-depth. Essentially, it looks like he set the IP phone settings via server options which set them globally, but if I can get him to limit that to just the scope of IP phones, then my stuff shouldn’t be a problem for the PCs. I just don’t know at this point if there’s a specific reason he did it globally. Doesn’t seem like it should need to be. Even caused problems earlier in the year when some of our network printers stopped working (had to turn off bootp in their settings menu to get them to pull valid IPs)
Thanks for the support thusfar, if things continue to progress, I’m sure you’ll be seeing me around the forum more as I get settled in.