Feeds

back to article Help a hack: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit?

Keen Reg readers may remember that last year we visited the remote Aboriginal community of Willowra and its new Wirliyatjarrayi Learning Centre. We went because we wanted to know how technology makes an impact in a remote community. What we found was a wonderful facility with enormous potential to help locals, but it was …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Silver badge

My method - YMMV

What I would do

1st I would not even consider doing an upgrade.....It wastes more time than it saves and will probably require support later on which you don't want to have to do.. Unless this is a necessity which isn't mentioned in the article.

Backup up all required files, then install fresh W7 copies..

Sysprep is your friend, the best tutorial I have ever found/used is as follows

Sysprep Tutorial

Required material

DVD or an ISO image , You will need a version of the W7 DVD or an ISO image.... a large bootable USB key, I use 2* 16Gb ...

If your are successfull with the Sysprepping + Testing then each install should take no longer than 1hr each, dependant on the software updates that will undoubetdly be triggered. make sure the PC is "fully" updated before doing the sysprep.

Do "ALL" of your prepping/testing BEFORE you head out..... Do, do the testing.......

Use http://ninite.com/ for downloading/updating those little must have prgrams that we all need/use ( Thanks go to Trevor Potts for the introduction to Ninite)

Just in case Sysprep fucks up the hidden admin account ( This is why testing is vital)

Hidden admin solution

Thats my 2cts worth ( I actually use this method)

Don't know the answer relating to the bandwidth issues

7
0
Bronze badge

Re: My method - YMMV

I certainly found that with Win7 MS made the job of small scale deployments much harder than with previous versions.

Effectively with a small deployment what you are really wanting to do is to completely configure one system and then image it across all the others, unfortunately MS in their desire to prevent pirating etc. have made this simple task difficult for small deployments and provide little real guidance on how to achieve this common task.

The problem with Win7 SysPrep is from what I was able to determine it couldn't give you a 'finished' system ie. the state in which a user can sit down and immediately start using the machine. So after completing SysPrep there was much still to be done such as: user accounts, simplified menu's, user app settings, printers etc. etc.

I found for small batches of identical machines, that configuring up one machine without registering Windows and then using Clonezilla to do a whole disk image, I was able to drop this almost finished image on to the other systems (care is necessary to preserve their 'unique' disk identifiers). The other systems then required a Windows repair boot before they would start up (so it picks up the correct disk identifier). the last action I performed was the activation and confirmation that all systems could co-exist and exchange information between them on the same WiFi/LAN.

Looking forward, a big concern is the satellite link and whether it is going to be appropriate to use it for updates (to all eight systems). The reason for this determines whether you are going to have to disable auto update etc. and so give yourself a system maintenance headache.

3
0
Silver badge

WSUS Offline

Upgrade or fresh install, there's going to be a lot of updates to install. WSUS Offline is pretty useful. It allows you to make an ISO full of Microsoft updates that you can then install on a bunch of machines without them all fighting to download the updates several times over. Useful in bandwidth constrained situations.

12
0
Thumb Up

Re: WSUS Offline

I was going to suggest a WSUS server in VirtualBox but your suggestion is far superior. Downloaded and building an ISO to try out.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

A Linux USB stick

32
29
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @rm-rf/

"A Linux USB stick"

Oh dear - very predictable. I wish you guys could develop a bit of originality.

14
26
Silver badge
Mushroom

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

Oh piss off troll. This is a worthy cause, so fuck off with your low level cheap shots.

16
26
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @ Lost All Faith

If this is a worthy cause are all the Office and W7 licences FOC ?

What next, free ipads to get them on the Apple treadmill too ?

21
5
Go

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

In all seriousness, a Linux Live CD or Live USB is always worth having in your toolkit - even in a 100% windows environment. I've found them particularly useful when sorting out partition issues or botched imaging operations. I've run into several situations where the quickest way out was to boot a Knoppix CD and fix a disk with GParted, which can generally handle anything you throw at it.

"rm -rf /" may or may not be a Linux troll, but there's plenty of merit to his suggestion.

44
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @ Lost All Faith

If this is a worthy cause are all the Office and W7 licences FOC ?

Exactly. If you all actually read the article, you'll find this cause is for some of "Australia's most impoverished".

So then, why the fuck are they paying for software licences with absolutely no ROI, when there are suitable FREE alternatives???

You kiss arses need to stop taking from the poor!

This isn't a fanboi rant - I use Windows - it's just common sense. You know, that old fashioned thing?

(that said, if it is for £0, then you have my blessing.)

20
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @ AC

"So then, why the fuck are they paying for software licences with absolutely no ROI, when there are suitable FREE alternatives???"

That is precisely my point. Someone has to pay for the Windows/Office Licences that is unless Microsoft has donated them FOC, in which case well done Microsoft. However if this is not the case money could have been saved by using "suitable FREE alternatives" and that money could have been spent on other extra things at the Community Learning Centre such as a better internet connection.

15
5
Def
Bronze badge
Joke

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

A Linux USB stick

Don't you think they're impoverished enough already? I mean, talk about kicking a man when he's down...

10
17

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @ AC

Since one of the objectives is to help the community members acquire job skills, it was likely decided that they needed to be up on the most widely used software in businesses, as opposed to something very similar.

Some users can easily go between MS Office and OpenOffice but most get confused. I was recently involved in a migration where the fleet of aging XP systems were replaced with Dell refurbs running Win7. Most of the old machines had the pre-DRM Office 2000 but that doesn't work on 64-bit Win7. A few had Office 2003 and PC Mover handled migrating that, though you have to make sure the Outlook users have Word as their editor because Outlook 2003 doesn't get along with IE 10/11 for editing.

Anyway, until there was a budget for MS Office of some more recent generation, the new machines all got LibreOffice in hopes it would cover most needs. It turned out to be a huge pain as they had a bunch of frequently used documents that LibreOffice doesn't render correctly. These users are mostly nurses and have very little interest in learning any new software. Free is nice, except when it doesn't work correctly and is confusing to those used to other products.

11
8
Silver badge

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

@garden-snail Seconded. And if the hardware is broken, linux will pin down the problem pretty quickly. It's a really good tool for hacking around.

8
0
Bronze badge

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @ AC

"Anyway, until there was a budget for MS Office of some more recent generation, the new machines all got LibreOffice in hopes it would cover most needs. It turned out to be a huge pain as they had a bunch of frequently used documents that LibreOffice doesn't render correctly. These users are mostly nurses and have very little interest in learning any new software. Free is nice, except when it doesn't work correctly and is confusing to those used to other products."

Fair point, but reading the original article the centre only opened in 2013, and the machines are running XP, which surely means second hand, so there's the assumption the spec is known and they'll all actually run W7. It's a bit astonishing that an AU$3m centre didn't include budget for a half dozen new boxes, which in April 2013 would have been W7/8.

Also from the original article there's a mixed ecosystem of XP and Mac (again, vintage unknown), and a bunch of locals come in to charge their iPads and the like, so although the locals are perhaps naive of the nastier corners of the web they're not stupid, just uneducated and can learn alternative packages.

If the Win boxes are hand-me-downs, we don't know whether they're all identical - some might take W7 and others not. Indeed, if they are second hand, do they have the original XP install media - if the W7 install goes bad can they roll it back, or might Linux be the next move to unbrick it?

It's certainly worth taking a couple of linux flavours, something live for troubleshooting (GParted, memtest, etc) and also to leave there if any boxes aren't playing nice with W7, either as a desktop or relegated as a firewall/network cache box.

Also, I know the article is aimed at the PCs, but if the Macs are a newer vintage, take a copy of Mavericks, if they haven't already dragged it down over the web...

5
0
Bronze badge

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @garden-snail

>In all seriousness, a Linux Live CD or Live USB is always worth having in your toolkit

I think you actually mean one of the "Rescue CD Toolkit" Linux Live distributions - I've used SysRescCD but there are others, some examples listed here http://www.gfi.com/blog/top-5-free-rescue-discs-for-your-sys-admin-toolkit/

I'm not so sure about the value of an end user Linux Live distribution, particularly as the decision to deploy Win7 et al has been taken.

Personally, I would take both CD and USB versions, at best it will enable you to work on two systems, at worst only one.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

"A Linux USB stick"

I know these people are poor and remote, but that's cruelty....

1
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

You can easily fix all those issue with a Windows bootable USB too if you are even vaguely competent.

1
5

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @ AC

there is no mention of where the licenses came from in the article. It would be nice to know if they did come FOC for this endeavour or not.

One thing the article is definitely not is a discussion on the merits of Linux over Windows. It seems pretty clear to me that there is a solution to be implemented, and that includes at least Windows 7 and MS Office to be installed on these machines.

I wonder how much a Linux and Open Office solution would cost to implement over the one described. Additionally, I wonder how much use a solution like this would be to the learning centre. Especially when you bear in mind that they seem to be about ready to offer skills in basic computer literacy.

However superior Linux is over Windows, teaching people basic computer literacy starts with Windows & something like Office.

Hopefully in the future, things will be different. For me, being taught basic Linux skills along with Windows at school, would have been highly useful.

0
2
Bronze badge

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

>You can easily fix all those issue with a Windows bootable USB too

Yes the Bart PE is very good, however strictly you do need a valid Windows XP/2003 license ... something that Linux being open source quite neatly gets around.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

A Linux USB stick

I could never be a Linux user because I haven't mastered the art of whining about Linux.

"Why don't you stop using Windows and use Linuuuuuuuuux???" WHAAAAA!!!!!

3
4
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @ AC

Its likely that whoever has to support these systems will be a windows user (Given that they cant do their own windows upgrade likely a NON TECHNICAL windows user) so its probably MUCH cheaper to stick to windows *

* Especially given that YES MS do large discounts & free software for charities

1
3
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

"Yes the Bart PE is very good, however strictly you do need a valid Windows XP/2003 license ... something that Linux being open source quite neatly gets around"

Valid windows xp/2003 license like the ones that will be on the boxes being upgraded?

1
0

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

that may be so, but a LOT of info was left out!!! If he said what you did, he would not be treated badly.. :)

0
0

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

... just please note that in the hands of a *utter newbie" , the chances of *totally* ruining computer/ windows/ contents of whole disk is very high, due to randomly pressing buttons...

0
0

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @ AC

Licences???? surely the person needing to upgrade his PC has **already** got the licences, when he **bought** the software????

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

>Valid windows xp/2003 license like the ones that will be on the boxes being upgraded?

Strictly - given this is a public forum - the answer is probably no, as I suspect the licenses on the boxes to be upgraded are OEM and I'm not sure if a Bart PE CD/USB counts as MS Windows Recovery Media...

Non-Select/VLK Licensing is one of the things I really dislike, particularly as MS have seemingly revised their EULA's over the years to make things more difficult. But in writing this, one ray of hope does come to mind, if you had a Technet subscription and hence have downloaded XP/2003 keys and images...

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ?

No, you don't need a PE boot disk, you can access all the command line tools you need from a standard Windows bootable install USB. And you don't need a license unless you INSTALL Windows.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: What's in your ultimate Windows XP migration toolkit ? @AC

>No, you don't need a PE boot disk

I was assuming Bart PE, given this particular thread started on Linux and I refocused it on to SysAdmin/SysInstaller tools, for which there are a number of really good Live distributions. And I would suggest that Bart PE is a good equivalent distribution based on Windows, certainly better than MS's Windows PE.

So whilst for many cases Windows PE may be sufficient, I would tend to want some more sophisticated tools in the kit bag, just in case (eg. clonezilla can do things with a Win7 install that Windows PE users can only dream about).

0
0

TCPOptimizer

There's only so much one can do about a lack of bandwidth, but, having said that, whenever I'm looking to maximize network speeds on a Windows box, I use TCPOptimizer:

http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php

I first have it perform an MTU check, then optimize all parameters associated with the relevant adapters - this is assuming you know the (actual) connection speed. If not, there are a number of "speed test" websites that should enable you to determine what it is. It might not hurt to have a look at the "Advanced" tab in Device Properties for the network hardware as well, just to see if there are any settings in there that might help, but that's very much hardware-dependent.

Nothing amazing, but hopefully it helps a little...

Arc_Light

3
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Up

Useful stuff

"WSUS Offline is pretty useful. It allows you to make an ISO full of Microsoft updates that you can then install on a bunch of machines without them all fighting to download the updates several times over."

Excellent. Have an upvote. :-)

"A Linux USB stick"

And a downvote for you for trying to score a cheap point inappropriately.

Well done, El Reg. A fine and worthy project.

12
16
Anonymous Coward

Re: Useful stuff

Good grief, why's this one being down voted more? Seriously??

0
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: Useful stuff

Because if you don't know that the many tools available on a Linux rescue CD, sysresccd for example, are quite useful, then you should not be dishing out down votes for suggesting that. You should shut your prejudice mouth and learn a new thing or two.

Yes, I am aware that there is excellent commercial software available as well.

Rather than teach these impoverished folks how to use office software, why not teach them to be computer literate first, then how computers work, then maybe some networking, and admin skills. If they are poor, surely you want to help them get ahead.

"Suggestions for apps that will help PCs be at their best in a very bandwidth-constrained environment"

If they are running Windows, keep the computers off the Internet. If they catch a cold, it will take lots of bandwidth to get the latest virus scanners/BS to clean it up. Maybe set them up with a FOG server so they can re-image their machines before the OS boots. In fact set this up and then use that to deploy Windows. You'll need to use sysprep. Once you do it a dozen or so times, you'll get the hang of it, but it is a finicky bitch.

"Software you think could assist people with low literacy levels."

A local copy of Wikipedia? bash? I mean if you have to type and read it might help with literacy rather than clicking on blobs of colour.

0
0
Silver badge

One thing I'd suggest...

...is making things like updates run late at night and where possible across different days.

So PC 1 runs Win update at say 10pm Wednesday after Patch Tuesday, the next at 10pm on the Thursday. That way they are not all battling for bandwidth at the same time and ultimately all failing.

Also how about locking the drives down? In the old days Windows Steady State* was your friend. Now you have to use commercial ones such as Faronics Deep Freeze or my personal favorite Drive Vaccine from Horizondata Sys. Always try a bit of blagging, it sometimes works.

* Steady state is no longer available from Microsoft, but some freeware sites are still carrying it. Highly recommend using this if you are planning to stay on XP.

2
0
Bronze badge
Coffee/keyboard

Re: One thing I'd suggest...

Ever tried Drive Vaccine? It is a little complicated to set up, but I hear it is a good replacement for Steady State and is pretty economical. At least it has been for me. However I've not had the time to set it up on a PC, and now that XP is going away, it may become my top priority. Folks around here just can't afford to update to hardware that can run the next iteration of Windows. They will just have to plod along with an expired XP, or at least use a LiveCD for sensitive web actions. With something like this hard drive locking capability, they could actually get rid of all the bloated anti-virus, and anti-malware that slowed the computer down before.

0
0

Other thoughts...

Some other thoughts:

* If the user-base is naive, solid AV / anti-malware / ad-blocking software will be critical. I like Avast! Free / Malwarebytes Pro (not free, sorry) / AdBlock Plus, but YMMV. NoScript is probably a bit excessive / liable to cause confusion, but there may be other steps that one can take along these lines as well. As a bonus, blocking such crap cuts down on bandwidth usage. Consider avoiding Java / Flash / Shockwave / Silverlight as well for the same reasons.

* Mercilessly disable all forms and flavors of autorun. Sorry, but users will have to learn how to find their drives; this is a security necessity from where I sit. You can accomplish all sorts of useful things via Group Policy Editor, but Ultimate Windows Tweaker is useful too:

http://www.thewindowsclub.com/ultimate-windows-tweaker-v2-a-tweak-ui-for-windows-7-vista

* Use Piriform CCleaner to clean up temporary files / the registry once all is said and done - of all the software that does this sort of thing, this one has never cause me issues in many years of use:

http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner

* Make sure to very carefully control any auto-update features of anything installed - in bandwidth-limited situations this will be essential to usability.

* In addition to using QoS if possible, consider some traffic shaping software; it's freeware, and in spite of the name, Traffic Shaper XP works just fine in a Windows 7 environment:

http://bandwidthcontroller.com/trafficShaperXp.html

* Bring a copy of the latest version of Hiren's BootCD (or your preferred equivalent) on a USB key, just in case.

Arc_Light

6
0

If you are going to a bandwidth constrained place and are miles from anywhere then taking as much of what you need with you would be a good start. I know it sounds obvious but I remember my days of helping with peoples home computers when I had broadband and they were still on dial up.

You mention Windows 7 so I assume the licenses are already paid for and the specs of the current machines has been checked and are more than capable of Windows 7. Otherwise I'd mention checking this first and if required investing in upgrades or going to a more light weight OS. Also, Windows 7? I appreciate it is nicer than 8 however it has 3 years fewer support. To me an you this might be ok as we likely change our computers more often, but possibly just possibly here OS longevity should outweigh the benefits of sticking to Windows 7. Don't forget to get the drivers downloaded in advance.

before you go make an up to date Windows 7 image (including all current updates), instlal whatever you might want on it then shrink the size of the image and clonezilla the machine.

When you are there image that back to one computer install anything remaining then and sysprep it. Make an image from that,

Bung out the image from a clonezilla server machine and voilla.. Go round put in keys and activate and you are out of there other than the bits that just don't sysprep well like Kaspersky if you are using it.

0
0
Bronze badge

Why tie these people into the MicroSoft symbiosis.

Isn't now the ideal time to look at alternatives? There are a number of low-cost, low-bandwidth solutions, take DVDs with a few of those.

12
7
Silver badge

Re: Why tie these people into the MicroSoft symbiosis.

Because there is money to be made.

Microsoft's thinking goes like this: Sell a person a fish, and you have sold one fish. But teach a person to fish, and you can keep on selling them expensive, proprietary bait and tackle for the rest of their life. Any beneficial side-effects (like, the people you taught to fish not being hungry anymore) are just a happy accident; it's all about making money. And your accidental-on-purpose failure to mention that there are plenty of other ways to get bait and tackle, possibly at considerably less cost and/or capable of catching more fish than the stuff you are selling, means they are in thrall to you.

What the Third World desperately needs is field-maintainability -- the owners of equipment should be the ones to determine whether it is worth propping up with spare parts or needs replacing at last. But field-maintainability is anathema to dinosaurs who are still wedded to the old economics of scarcity -- precisely because the inability to maintain in the field works in their favour.

7
0

Re: Why tie these people into the MicroSoft symbiosis.

Never heard , being tied to Microsoft described as a symbiotic relationship before - interesting choice of words .

0
0

Re: Why tie these people into the MicroSoft symbiosis.

More like parasitic

3
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Why tie these people into the MicroSoft symbiosis.

Sell a person a fish, and you have sold one fish. But teach a person to fish,

and he'll sit in a boat all day drinking beer. So that's a sound business model if you're into brewing or selling the stuff.

2
0

Not strictly answering the question....

... Won't help the migration, but if you have one then a spare PC with 2 NICs to leave behind with Sophus UTM or Untangle, Squid and FreeNAS running as VMs to give them a free but enterprise class firewall with caching, anti-spam, web filters and shared drives. Sophus UTM has a free non-commercial version for up to 50 people, and Untungle has a "lite" version.

Easy enough to setup the VMs and internal network under VirtualBox before you even leave the office and massively improve their experience. I'd run it under a Ubuntu LTS release rather than buy another windows licence, but that's me :)

7
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Not strictly answering the question....

I think it's disingenuous to set up customers with great and costly support licenses when they will never be able to use them because of the remote location. Living in a very remote location for years taught me what another poster said that being able to self-sustaining in a remote environment trumps any support, which is why I always ended up using FOSS.

1
0

Golden Image

I'd be making and debugging and syspreping a golden image with all their software preconfigured before I left. This means you don't get rushed on the config/tuning and all the machines are configured in exactly the same way, you can also patch it up to the latest and minimise what each machine needs to download once you are there.

It also means that once the locals have been given suitable instructions, if a machine is virus infected or otherwise broken then they can just revert back to their "master" image.

I'd also make sure I have the following things with me.

Extra Ram (Windows 7 needs at least 2GB really even as a Web surfing box) Do you have a hardware audit of the machines to be able to determine what Ram they have/might need ?

UBCD on both Optical and Flash media (includes several partitioning/imaging tools plus things like memory tests etc in case you get a rogue machine)

Spare Optical drives (one of each pATA and SATA, if you go down the route of installing form optical media)

Two portable hard drives with the master image on.

Some spare internal hard drives (no point installing to buggered hardware, so I'd be running the smart tools against each hdd before installation and replacing it if it is suspect)

I'd also have a go at convincing someone like ESET to see if they will donate some decent AntiMalware protection. If you can't manage that then I think probably Microsoft Security Essentials is the best of the freebies, but make sure it is installed and fully up to date on your master image.

0
0

Re: Golden Image

Your comment on extra RAM made me think. I would personally say: get someone there to install belarc system advisor and email that document per machine.

It's a small file, but has masses of information (and sometimes product keys, I'm told) and I've used it before to get information to prep a machine install for someone who was in london with no internet connection, in the days of very non-smart phones.

turned out handy as I'd downloaded the drivers, and the source of the problem was a USB keyboard driver trying to 'ping' a server and causing the machine in question to hang. Why? the keyboard had a light on it to tell you if you were connected to the internet.

So, Drivers, drivers, drivers. It's going to suck if you don't know exactly which one(s) you need for a certain hardware configuration.

1
0
Bronze badge
Coffee/keyboard

Re: Golden Image

majorgeeks has a really good update tool, that doesn't need installing, and points you to many of the applications and drivers that may need attention. I haven't tried the driver updates yet, because I'm not having hardware problems, but many clients of mine do.

0
0
Bronze badge

additional software

if it's (for all intents and purposes) offline, do they still do encyclopedia cds like encarta?

that's what we did before internet connections got decent, and clearly they're educational.

5
0
Bronze badge

Re: additional software

In a similar vein, I'd suggest an ebook software (I use CoolReader FWIW) and a selection of titles from Project Gutenberg.

Without wishing to sound condescending, literacy is, in so many ways, a silver bullet. Perhaps the low literacy rates are, at least in part, a consequence of lack of accesss to reading material in such a remote location.

4
0
Bronze badge

Excellent idea - Re: additional software

@Valeyard

I used Encarta in an FE College before we had ready access to Internet. You may remember the built-in project program that let people store up articles and tag them with comments and add illustrations.

Britannica 2013 Deluxe DVD is currently available and boats '80000 articles'. Not sure how many of those link back to the online source and how many are local to the DVD install. It wants just under 4GB for 'full install' and will run on relatively modest specs (including G5 Mac). Might be a nice one to have on one or two machines.

I'd second a download from Gutenberg and the various free textbooks that are around now as PDFs.

1
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.