How To Use Remote Installation Service to Install Windows Server 2003 on Remote Computers


This step-by-step article describes how to use Remote Installation Service (RIS) to install Windows Server 2003 on remote computers.

You can use RIS to remotely set up new Microsoft Windows Server 2003-based computers by using a RIS network shared folder as the source of the Windows Server 2003 files. You can install operating systems on remote boot-enabled client computers. Client computers are connected to the network, and are then started by using a Pre-Boot eXecution Environment (PXE)-capable network adapter or remote boot disk. The client then logs on with a valid user account.

RIS Hardware Requirements

The following is the minimum hardware that is required for the RIS server:
  • The server must meet the minimum hardware requirements for the version of Windows Server 2003 that is installed.
  • A four gigabyte (GB) drive that is dedicated to the RIS directory tree on the RIS server.
  • A 10 or 100 megabit per second (Mbps) network adapter that supports TCP/IP. 100 Mbps is preferred.

    NOTE: Dedicate a whole hard disk or partition specifically to the RIS directory tree. SCSI-based disk controllers and disks are preferred.

    The drive on the server on which you will install RIS must be formatted with the NTFS file system. RIS requires a lot of disk space, and you cannot install it on the same drive or partition on which Windows Server 2003 is installed. Make sure that the chosen drive contains enough free disk space for at least one full set of the installation files for the operating system you plan to remotely install.

Client Hardware Requirements

The following list describes the minimum hardware that is required for RIS client computers:
  • Meet the minimum operating system hardware requirements.
  • PXE DHCP-based boot ROM version 1.00 or later network adapter, or a network adaptor that is supported by the RIS boot disk.

    NOTE: Always contact the manufacturer of your network adapter to obtain the latest version of the PXE DHCP-based boot ROM.

Software Requirements

Several network services must be active and available for RIS. You can install the following services either on the RIS server or on other servers that are available on the network:
  • Domain Name System (DNS Service)
  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP)
  • Active Directory "Directory" service

Prerequisites for Client Installations

Make sure that the client computer's network adapter has been set as the primary boot device in the computer BIOS. If the network adapter is configured as the primary boot device, the client requests a network service boot from the RIS server on the network when the client starts. After the client contacts the RIS, the client is prompted to press the F12 key to download the Client Installation Wizard. Do not press F12 unless you need a new operating system installation or access to maintenance and troubleshooting tools.

After the client operating system has been installed by using RIS, you can ignore the prompt to press F12 during future client computer startups. You can also reset the client BIOS so that the primary boot device is the floppy disk drive, the hard disk, or the CD-ROM drive.

To use the remote boot disk to start the installation, insert the boot disk into the floppy disk drive, and then start the client computer. The floppy disk drive must be set as the primary boot device in the client BIOS. After the computer starts from the disk, you are prompted to press F12 to start the network service boot process. You must remove the boot disk after you press F12 and before the text-mode portion of the operating system installation completes.

NOTE: You may have to press F12 on some Compaq computers during startup. In this case, you must press F12 on the Compaq startup screen, and then press F12 again when you are prompted by the RIS server.

Install Windows Server 2003 RIS

  1. Click Start, point to Control Panel, and then click Add or Remove Programs.
  2. Click Add/Remove Windows Components.
  3. Click to select the Remote Installation Services check box, and then click Next.

    NOTE: If you are prompted for the Windows Server 2003 installation files, put the Windows Server 2003 CD-ROM in the CD-ROM drive, and then click OK. After you do so, you may receive a message with options for upgrading the operating system. Click No.
  4. Click Finish, and then click Yes to restart your computer.

Set Up RIS

  1. Log on as a user with administrative privileges.
  2. Click Start, click Run, type risetup.exe, and then click OK to start the RIS Setup Wizard.
  3. When the "Welcome" screen appears, click Next.
  4. Type the drive letter and folder in which the RIS files are stored, and then click Next. For example, you might type E:\RemoteInstall, and then click Next.
  5. After the RIS Setup Wizard copies the files, you are be prompted to enable or disable the RIS service, and the options are:
    • Respond to client computers requesting service. If you select this option, RIS is enabled, and it will respond to client computers that are requesting service.
    • Do not respond to unknown client computers. If you select this option, RIS only responds to known client computers.
  6. Click Respond to client computers requesting service, and then click Next.
  7. You are then prompted for the location of the client operating system installation files. Put the client operating system CD-ROM in the server CD-ROM drive, and then click Next.

    NOTE: Microsoft only supports the use of Microsoft media when creating a client operating system image. The use of non-Microsoft media is not supported.
  8. Type the folder name for the client operating system installation files on the RIS server, and then click Next.
  9. Type a friendly description for the operating system image. This is displayed to users after they start a remote client and run the Client Installation Wizard.
  10. Click Next, click Finish, and then click Done.

Authorize RIS in Active Directory

After you install RIS, the RIS server must be authorized in Active Directory. Authorization determines control of which RIS servers can serve client computers on the network. If the RIS server is not authorized in Active Directory, client computers that request service cannot contact the RIS server.

NOTE: To authorize a RIS server in Active Directory, you must be logged on as an enterprise administrator or a domain administrator of the root domain.
  1. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click DHCP.
  2. In the left pane, right-click DHCP, and then click Manage Authorized Servers.
  3. If your server is not listed, click Authorize, type the name or the IP address of the RIS server, and then click OK.

    NOTE: If you are prompted to confirm the RIS server, verify the name and IP address, and then click OK.
  4. Click Close, and then quit the DHCP console.

Set User Permissions

With RIS, clients can install their own client operating system. The users must also be granted permissions for creating computer accounts in the domain. To make it possible for users to create computer accounts anywhere in the domain:
  1. Click Start, point to Administrative Tools, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. In the left pane, right-click your domain name, and then click Delegate Control.
  3. In the Delegation of Control Wizard, click Next.
  4. Click Add.
  5. Type the name of the group that requires permission to add computer accounts to the domain, and then click OK.
  6. Click Next.
  7. Click to select the Join a computer to the domain check box, and then click Next.
  8. Click Finish.

Install Clients By Using RIS

This section describes how to install a client operating system on a computer that contains a network adapter that supports PXE DHCP-based boot ROM. To install a client operating system:
  1. Make sure that the network adapter is set as the primary boot device in the computer BIOS.
  2. Restart the client computer from the network adapter.
  3. When you are prompted to do so, press F12 to start the download of the Client Installation Wizard.
  4. At the "Welcome" screen, press ENTER.
  5. Type a user name that has permissions to add computer accounts to the domain, and then type the domain name and password for this user.
  6. Press ENTER.
  7. When you receive a warning message that states that all data on the client computer hard disk will be deleted, press ENTER.
  8. A computer account and a global unique ID for this workstation are displayed. Press ENTER to start Setup.
  9. If you are prompted to do so, follow the instructions on the screen to complete the client operating system installation.

Remote Installation Boot Disk Option

You can use the remote installation boot disk with computers that do not contain a network adapter that supports PXE DHCP-based boot ROM. The boot disk is designed to simulate the PXE startup process.

Rbfg.exe is a utility for creating network installation disks, and it is located in the RemoteInstall\Admin folder on every RIS server.

Creating a Boot Disk By Using the Windows Remote Boot Disk Generator

To create a remote installation boot disk:
  1. Locate the
    drive:\RemoteInstall\Admin\I386 folder on the RIS server, where drive is the drive on which RIS is installed.
  2. Double-click the Rbfg.exe file.
  3. Put a floppy disk in the floppy disk drive, and then click Create Disk.
  4. When you prompted to create another disk, click No, and then click Close.
NOTE: To view a list of supported network adapters, click Adapter List. You cannot add network adapters to this list.


For information about how to contact Compaq Computer Corporation, click the appropriate article number in the following list to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
65416 Hardware and Software Third-Party Vendor Contact List, A-K

60781 Hardware and Software Third-Party Vendor Contact List, L-P

60782 Hardware and Software Third-Party Vendor Contact List, Q-Z