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FOG and Active Directory


A while back, I wrote a post on a very useful piece of software called FOG, which you can read here. Since then, FOG has been updated to version 0.28, and my original article ended up on their wiki.

Our school is moving to an Active Directory based domain in the middle of December, and we have been searching for ways to get our workstations ready. After much discussion, it was felt that grouping the machines together hardware wise, then cloning them would be the best way to get all the machines ready. The idea behind this is that this will be faster than cleaning out individual workstations, as well as providing a clean stable base system. Unfortunately, XP remains the base operating system.

Joining a computer to the domain is not hard, but it is time consuming. Combined with renaming the workstation, it becomes really time consuming. FOG thankfully can automatically rename a workstation, and provided that the Windows Support Tools are installed on a workstation, it can join the domain for us. We finally got around to attempting to make use of this, and in short, while it works, there is an issue related to the password for the account used to join the domain, which I will explain shortly.

With enough experimenting and reading of the FOG wiki, we got our test computers to join the domain. It worked quite well, and combined with the name changing module, it has the facility to save us lots of time.

In order to join the domain, you need an account in Active Directory that has the rights to do so. As a test, we were using our Administrator account. However, our account has a strong password, including the use of the : character This character caused an issue with the NETDOM command that is part of the Windows Support Tools that FOG needs to join the domain. Using the : character caused NETDOM to think that we were specifying another parameter, when we weren’t. This came to light after manually using the NETDOM command when FOG failed to join the domain.

I haven’t experimented with the NETDOM command, to see if using inverted commas around the password will work. However, even if that works, FOG will not be able to pass that on to NETDOM. In short, make sure the account you use to join computers to the network is using a password without at least the : character.

I’ve read on the FOG forums that some code is being developed to join computers to the domain without using NETDOM, as this command is no longer available for Windows 7. So far it is having some mixed success, so time will tell what happens.

To close off, I am yet again impressed by FOG. The improvements brought about by the later versions have increased speed and added some nice new features. I look forward to see what more is still coming, including possibly much better Linux cloning support. For a free product, it is quickly becoming a must have in a network environment that needs cloning.

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  1. Tony
    June 4, 2010 at 19:36

    THANK YOU! The you save us (some) time with the issue regarding the “:”!

  1. December 24, 2009 at 12:42

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