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Windows installation at CERN


Check the BIOS of your Computer

There are some minimal requirements for the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) version to install and run Windows. If in the above table there is a pointer to specific installation instructions, you should read them first to see if you need an updated version of the BIOS for your computer. If so you will have to create a boot floppy to flash the update. If your computer is not in the table, you should visit the web site of the manufacturer of your computer and search for the version of Windows for support information and also for updated drivers. The correct BIOS must be present before the installation of Windows. Most of the recent computer hardware support PXE boot; please make sure that it is enabled in the BIOS.

Warning: Files on the local disk

The installation of Windows will take some time and will erase all files in the local C: disk including user's files and documents if any. Please check and ensure that all the users files have been saved before erasing the disk. Temporarily scratch disk space can be obtained from to store your data.

Before you can install Windows, you must have a valid user account in the domain, also known as a NICE account. You can verify the status of your user account at the following URL:

Computer Registration in the Network Database

Before you install Windows, you must also have a valid computer account in the domain. The creation of a computer account in the domain is automatically done when completing (or updating, if the computer has already been registered) the Network Connection Request Form in the Network Database by entering 'Windows' in the operating system field. At present, a simple field change is immediately handled (flash update), however a new request can take up to 8 working hours.. In the same network registration form, please ensure that the "Main User" and the "Responsible" fields are filled in correctly. Only the accounts owned by persons specified as "Main User" and "Responsible" fields will be allowed to execute the installation. You must also enter the "Hardware address" of your network adapter in order get access to the network. The hardware address can be found on the delivery sheet of your computer or will be displayed when booting your computer from the network (PXE).

Propagation to the Active Directory

The information of the Network Database for new computer accounts is propagated to this Windows Active Directory every 10 minutes.

Installation Method Overview

A NICE Windows system can be installed using a PXE Remote Network Boot. With this installation method, you boot your computer directly on the network, called PXE (Preinstallation eXecution Environment) Remote Boot. No CD is required for this installation method. The user should just push the F12 button (depending on the computer; ex: F10, F1) at boot time to launch the network based installation procedure. The only condition is that the PC must be registered with 'Windows' in the operating system field of the network database. The BIOS should have the PXE boot option enabled. Important Notes: For security reason an installation can be carried out only by: The "Responsible" of the computer being installed as defined in The "main user" of the computer being installed as defined in Members of the group "NICE Installers"
This installation method is the only supported installation method for Windows at CERN. Windows in the D: drive and Non US-English versions of Windows are not supported.

Detailed Installation Procedure

Note: some PCs may have the PXE Network Boot option disabled in the BIOS. If your PC does not propose "network boot by pressing F12", you should check the BIOS that the option is enabled. Some older models require to change the boot order priority to set the network adapter (sometimes referenced as a device starting with 'IBA....') before the hard-disc. Ensure that your PC is connected to the Ethernet by cable (Network boot does not work with a wireless (WiFi) connection). Switch on your PC and press F12 shortly after. If a Boot Menu appears, select Boot from LAN and press Enter. The PC will then try to retrieve an IP address from the central DHCP servers. This will only work if your computer's hardware address (MAC) has been registered in the network database. This may also fail if you use an old Ethernet hub (with 8 ports: CentreCOM MR820TR) or if you use a port replicator. After getting a valid IP address, the PC will prompt for pushing ENTER during a few seconds. This action will display the next welcome screen where you can select one of the following options:

Select 64-bit installation. The system will load the Windows Preinstallation Environment and display the NICE Disk Manager. This simple graphical interface permits rapid configuration of the system disk.

The following actions are provided by this tool. Please note that Windows must be installed on a C: drive. Tool Use Create system partition This action will automatically create a System partition, assign a drive letter C: and format. The whole in less than a minute. The button is only active by selecting an 'Unused' partition and if no other C: partition exists. The recommended choice for standard installations. Format partition To quick-format an existing partition with assigned drive letter. The button is only active when selecting an existing partition with assigned drive letter. Clean Complete Disk To delete all partitions from the selected disk. The button is active when selecting a valid disk. Delete partition To delete an existing partition. The button is active when selecting an existing partition. Note that no reboot is required anymore when modifying partitions. Clicking 'Next' will open the Diane Installation Menu:

This installation menu will automatically retrieve the Mainboard Type and the Computer Name. All NICE supported PC models should be recognized and the Computer Model field will be filled with the correct model name. For non supported PCs, the Computer Model will indicate 'Unsupported'. Depending on the Computer Model, a list of Operating Systems (Windows versions) will be available. The installation will run for unsupported PC models, but we do not guarantee that all devices (eg. video, sound, mousepad adapter) of your computer will work properly (mostly due to hardware specific drivers, which are not provided by NICE). The selection of the installation type defines how your computer should be (re)-installed. There are 2 options: Install standard NICE PC with default applications. Default NICE software will be reinstalled when you connect to the CERN network. In practice this means that the computer will be removed from all specific computer groups. This option is the most common for normal office computing. Install NICE PC and preserve all managed applications and settings. In this case all assigned software will be reinstalled for you. In practice this means that the computer will keep its group memberhips. This option is mostly used in specific areas, such as controls or CAD engineering. After a successful recreation of the computer account, some drivers will be copied and the installation will start. This can take between 15 and 30 minutes depending on the hardware and network connection.

Post Installation Instructions

Restart the computer and login with your account

When the installation is terminated, the computer will reboot and install CMF which will install all assigned applications depending on its role. This procedure can take up to one hour but is fully automated. If you are installing a portable computer that will work in disconnected mode, you should login at least once in connected mode using the accounts of the end-user and start all the applications that will be necessary in disconnected mode. This will ensure that the application is properly installed.

Additional Actions

Computer specific settings

Every computer has its set of special recommendations that can be typically be found on the web site of the computer manufacturer. Information given here is just an example applicable to CERN standard supported computers. For some CERN supported models, you can find specific installation instructions in the table in paragraph 2.

Installing Windows on portable PCs

A portable computer can be installed exactly as a normal computer. In this case, the installation procedure is the same as for all other computers. We do not support the installation of Windows via Wireless network interfaces. At CERN, the SHCP protocol support is available on all ethernet 'normal' outlet and DHCP on all labeled "Outlet for Portables". Note that : To use a normal outlet, the MAC (network adapter) address of your PC must be registered in the Network Databasefor that outlet. To use a portable outlet, the MAC (network adapter) address of your PC must only be registered in the Network Database as a Portable.

Additional steps for Portable computers

Use all your applications at least once before going offline

A computer is considered offline when it is not connected to the (CERN) network. Applications under NICE are either assigned to the computer or published to the user. Which means that in theory, applications assigned to the computer should be fully available after the computer is installed. This is however not exactly true, as a final step for the application installation is the user or computer specific settings. An example of this is that the first time Word is used, it asks for the user name and initials. If the computer is offline, Word will be unable to do this task and won't be usable. So, it is STRONGLY advised to use at least once, while connected to the network, every application you'd like to use while offline. Similarly, applications published to the user are only available when they have been activated through the Add/Remove Program applet of the Control Panel. When the computer is offline, it will not be able to discover any published applications, and hence not be able to make them available while offline. In other words, any published application must be installed and used PRIOR taking the computer for offline use.

Power options

Portable computers offer a wider range of management options than standard desktop computers. Amongst other things, they offer more power modes:

Standby mode is the mode in which the computer is shutdown, but still maintaining the system state in memory. The battery power is used to keep the memory information. If the computer runs out of batteries, all the information is lost, including open documents. This is would be equivalent to brutally taking the power off a desktop computer. Note that most portables will allow for automatically saving the memory state to disk after a certain amount of time by hibernating the computer (see below). Using standby allows for quickly shutting down the computer and quickly resuming it while preserving battery power. This is useful when going from one office to another for example. Hibernate mode still preserves the memory contents but in contrast save it in a file on the hard disk. It allows for faster shutdown/resume, but does not need battery power. The size of the file one disk will be equivalent to the size of the memory.

Power options are available thru "Start Menu->Settings->Control Panel->Power Options" (when your account does not have administrative privileges, you have to go through NICEAdmin to be able to change Power Options). The actual options vary from computer to computer, but in general will always Allow to display a status icon in the system tray. Allow to choose power schemes, i.e. how the computer should act under different circumstances. For example when making a presentation, you do not want the computer suddenly going in standby mode while you are explaining a complicated slide without doing anything on the computer. Allow to perform actions when the lid is closed. Some people like the computer to go in standby mode when the lid is closed. Allow hibernation support.