RISky Business

Remote Installation Services allows for easy creation of computer names containing MAC addresses.

Bill: I'm a network administrator at a high school and I'm looking for a tool to automatically change a computer name from a text list or database related to the MAC address with our Windows 2003 server and Remote Installation Services Server.

Met vriendelijke groet.
—Christian
Roosendaal, The Netherlands

Christian: Hoe gaat het ermee, Christian? (How's it going?) Since you're using RIS, you don't need a database or text file to create computer names that include the MAC address. You can use the Custom Name feature in RIS.

For those who are not familiar with RIS, it allows you to take a desktop (or server, for that matter) with a blank hard drive, boot to a Preboot Execution Environment (PXE) that automatically downloads a set of installation files stored on the RIS server, then either walk through the standard OS installation or use an unattended installation file to automate the process. You can also create a file-based “image” of a desktop or server and use the image to do installations on slightly different hardware, something that can be a challenge for sector-based image applications such as Ghost or DriveImage.

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RIS doesn't have its own MMC console, so you'll have to use the Properties window for the RIS server in Active Directory Users and Computers. Select the Remote Install tab and click Advanced Settings.

Select the New Clients tab. Under Automatic Computer Naming, click the combo box under Generate Client Computer Names Using.

The default naming format prefixes the MAC address with the letters NP. A character-based prefix is important because TCP/IP utilities such as ping do not work if the host name starts with a numeral. Click Advanced to change the prefix. You can use your organization initials or even program the Client Installation Wizard in RIS to ask the installer for a prefix. Keep the overall name to something 15 characters or fewer to meet NetBIOS naming restrictions.

Hope this helps. Gefeliciteerd met de geboorte van prinses Amalia...

P.S. I'd like to thank to my colleague Ron Beekelaar for the Dutch help. Ron informs me that the crown prince of the Netherlands, Willem Alexander, has a new baby. The last sentence translates, “Congratulations with the birth of princess Amalia.”

About the Author

Contributing Editor Bill Boswell, MCSE, is the principal of Bill Boswell Consulting, Inc. He's the author of Inside Windows Server 2003 and Learning Exchange Server 2003 both from Addison Wesley. Bill is also Redmond magazine's "Windows Insider" columnist and a speaker at MCP Magazine's TechMentor Conferences.

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