ThinStation and MS Remote Installation Services HOWTO

By Wolfgang Sauer, August 2003.
E-mail: Wolfgang_sauer AT

Section 4 updated September 2004 by input from Mathew McKernan, mat AT

You can use RIS to rollout Windows projects. RIS is a PXE and TFTP server with active directory integration. Each RIS client is identified by its UUID/GUID in the active directory. The UUID is bios or nic specific (for instance: {22260DA0-57B4-1224-B9D3-F8C4DCABF308}).

A computer account can be prestaged in the active directory with this UUID. That means, if this computer will be installed in the future it will get this prestaged computer name. The other option is to install the client without prestaging. In this case the RIS server gets the UUID automatically and stores it in the active directory for future use (if the machine must be reinstalled again).

The PXE component of the RIS server (service is called binlsvc) sends the PXE client a RIS specific bootloader This bootloader presents the user the option to press F12 to install the machine. If the user presses F12 the bootloader loads menus and dialogs from the RIS server via tftp which will be used to login, type the desired computer name and do the installation.

These two MS knowledge base articles describe this options:
Q298750: HOWTO: Set Up and Configure Remote Installation Services in Windows 2000 - in the chapter "prestaging"
Q302467: HOWTO: Prestage a RIS Client Computer Using ADSI

How can this be used for thinstation?

I looked for a chance to boot specific clients to thinstation. One option was to replace the RIS specific bootloader with a nic specific bootloader from rom-o-matic (PXE loadable ROM Image - .zpxe). But this option isn't really good because every client will now boot the same bootloader and the RIS install option is no more available. But it can be done.

  1. Prestage the computer account in the active directory (by UUID).
  2. Download the nic specific .zpxe bootloader from
  3. Store this file to RISDRIVE:\remoteinstall\OSChooser\i386 (for instance: eepro100-5201.pxe for a Intel Pro100 nic).
  4. - Either: -

    GUI option with the MMC Active Directory Users & Computers (supplement by Mathew, mat AT
    Modify the created computer in Active Directory by right clicking the object and selecting Properties. Select the "Remote Install" tab, in the field labelled as "Remote Installation Server" to the filename of the etherboot image with "\OSChooser\i386\" preceding the filename. For example: "\OSChooser\i386\eepro100-5201.pxe". Click OK. Click "Yes" to the warning regarding the possibility that the server does not exist.

    - or: -

    Scripting option

    Modify the netbootMachineFilePath for this computer account by script or adsiedit.msc to \OSChooser\i386\eepro100-5201.pxe.

    Both options configure the same attribute. The RIS server the sends this file to this specific PXE client. Computer accounts with an empty netbootMachineFilePath attribute still receive

  5. Configure the necessary DHCP options 66 boot server host name with the ip address of the RIS Server an 67 bootfile name with thinstation.nbi.
  6. Store thinstation.nbi, thinstation.conf, thinstation.hosts, etc in RISDRIVE:\remoteinstall.
  7. The client boots now the thinstation and the RIS server is still available for further windows installations.