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This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights. The opinions expressed within are my own and should not be attributed to any other Individual, Company or the one I work for. I just happen to be a classic techie who is passionate about getting things to work as they should do (and are sometimes advertised and marketed as being able to?) and when I can I drop notes here to help others falling in to the same traps that I have fallen in to. If this has helped then please pass it on - if you feel that I have commented in error or disagree then please feel free to discuss with me either publically or privately? Cheers, Dave
Thin Clients, VDI and Linux integration from the front lines.... Raw and sometimes unedited notes based on my experiences with VMware, Thin Clients, Linux etc.


Using Altiris/HP RDP the concept s to automate the build process and script each process so that it is:

  • Automatic, as much as possible
  • Modularised, in that each separate step is done independently

What this enables is that you can switch Hardware and you would only need to change the “drivers” section of script, everything else should be able to remain as it is



Can be run as a host on Windows Server or Linux O/S, or in the case of ESX Server be run on “bare metal”. VMWare then is capable of running multiple Virtual Hardware emulators, where Hard Disks are effectively flat files and the BIOS is just an XML Config File.



In the case of VMWare, is it absolutely necessary then to run Altiris on that?

MS’s ADS is very similar to Altiris, yet it would appear that this can not be automated to work within a VMWare Virtual environment (possibly due to PXE boot requirement?), my question was why would you bother?


Given the speed and disk capacities are increasing all the time, once you have taken time to create your “Gold Build Standard” of your server build, it is extremely easy to just keep a pristine copy precisely because it is just a simple flat file *AND* non-specific to hardware.


I will freely admit that it makes sense to me from an Architects view to script as much work as possible when creating a “Gold Build Standard” because I always want to make it easier for those that come behind me, however when looking at the issue somewhat dispassionately MS have done a good job these days at ensuring you can achieve almost every possible config change in Server 2003 in 3 fundamental ways:

  • GUI – Windows Configuration, possibly through wizards
  • Command Line – Direct Scripting tools from the Resource Kit
  • Scripting – WSH, VBS, WMI, etc.

So although I accept that it is *possible* to script almost every step, when you are using, or intending to run servers on, VMWare – then it’s quite possible that once you have built and tested the “Gold Build Standard” and you’re happy with it – you can then use the scripting tools to *spit out* the config files that represent the build, and then use it as a “Gold Copy”


Now it could be that I’m barking up the wrong tree completely here, but given the level of commitment, not to mention resources and time, needed to take Altiris/HP RDP from the basic server build “out of the box” to a proper production scenario of making sure that ALL the issues are set correctly above and beyond what’s achievable from the unattend.txt file can typically take a few weeks dedicated time and then ongoing support and commitment – doesn’t this sound like hard work?


Don’t get me wrong, I like to scripting stuff so that it works automatically, and even in my scenario above I can still see that it would be very nice to tidy it all up and SYSPREP away the “Gold Build Standard” as well as automating the SYSPREP answer file when it’s booted This would be even sweeter if you could get it to *peek* at the new name you’ve given the VMWare Server and then use that, and discover it’s new IP address as well?


So from this little missive, I don’t think you really need Altiris *IF* you are running large number of Servers or Citrix Server Farms on VMWare – I wouldn’t throw it out if it was already in use – but I certainly don’t think I’d be insisting anyone use it on top of VMWare.


Now SoftGrid, that’s another question all together....... for another day perhaps?

Posted on Wednesday, June 29, 2005 12:14 AM Citrix , IT Management | Back to top

Comments on this post: Thoughts on Altiris and VMWare - Are these two competing architectures?

# re: Thoughts on Altiris and VMWare - Are these two competing architectures?
Requesting Gravatar...
I think that you need to look at the bigger picture. We currently use Altiris to fully automate our server build. Basically we input certian information into a web page and hit the GO button. It will then build the array ( if you asked it too , you might already have it configured or only wanted to rebuild the OS ) , install the OS and then install the application based apon the role that you selled for the server at the first step. One of the big plusses is that our virtual server in test and dev are identically built to the same standard as our phsycal prod servers, everytime.

When you look at the latest version of Altiris and you use WinPE to boot off , all of a sudden this is not much that you can not do ( how else are you going to use wmi cause it dont work under DOS ).

I think that you also need to look at the other things that Altiris does , Software distubition is just a small part of it , plus the fact that you can use DS or NS which will give you two distinctly different experiances. The software portal that allows users to self service there software needs is areal time saver as you dont need to be running around installing that new Microsoft update. There is alot more to Altiris than PXE , I think that you are trying to compare apples and oranges with a question which maybe a bit trageted at oranges.

Left by Bozman on Oct 16, 2006 5:03 AM

# re: Thoughts on Altiris and VMWare - Are these two competing architectures?
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My only reason: Altiris and the scripts you develop can help you keep all of your servers up to date so that you don't have to keep reimaging/resealing your gold standard, but you still know your new server has exactly the same set of patches as your old one.
Left by Richard on Nov 07, 2006 8:37 PM

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