RIS (Remote Installation Service) in Windows Server 2003

Remote Installation Service (RIS) in Windows Server 2003

RIS is Microsoft’s service for installing images of XP Professional.  If you are going to accept the challenge of installing and configuring the RIS service on a Windows 2003 Server then you need a plan.  This section provides step-by-step instructions on how to get your RIS server ready to install XP Clients.

Think of this page as a mini-site map for RIS.  If you are new to the Remote Installation Service, then I suggest that begin with the Overview of RIS, else go through to the Install RIS Service page.  Even if you have successfully installed RIS, there is still a deal of configuration surprises at the Active Directory Users and Computers.

Topics for RIS


Introduction to RIS

Be prepared. RIS is a complex service to install and configure.  The alternative would be to install XP Professional using imaging software like ‘Ghost’.  My advice is to persevere with RIS, not only will you enjoy the technical challenge, but RIS integrates with Group Policies and Active Directory.  The advantage is that RIS gives you complete control over the deployment of the XP desktop right from day one.

While the RIS concept is rather like the Ghost image, the RIS technology is an extension of SysPrep.  Clients connect to the DHCP server with their PXE network card.  Authorized DHCP servers then pass the client to the RIS server, where they can download an appropriate image of XP Professional.

Apart from the challenging install, RIS has few disadvantages.  RIS cannot install Domain Controllers, however, you can install a Windows Server 2003 and promote it to a DC.  Perhaps the biggest practical disadvantage is RIS will not upgrade Windows 2000 Professional, or any other Microsoft Client.  Even this limitation is not serious, would it not be better to start your migration with fresh machines without any baggage from the old operating system?

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Summary of RIS

RIS reminds me of DHCP in that DHCP was slow to take off and old timers used to say, ‘I would not trust this new fangled DHCP technology’.  Well, if you appreciate the advantages of DHCP, then investigate RIS.

RIS is Windows Server 2003’s new way of installing XP (and Windows 2000 professional) clients.  Unfortunately setting up the RIS server is tricky, but it worth the effort because RIS will reduce your total cost of ownership.  The final reason for mastering the RIS technology is that this will be the way of the future, it’s going to take time, but eventually techies will be weaned off Ghost.

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More Windows Server 2003 topics:

Windows RIS Server   • RIS Home   • RIS Install   • RIS Overview

Windows Services   • RIS Configure   • Windows 8 Hyper-V

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