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I have about 70 pc's with exactly same hardware. I decided to automate turning on and off. I took 1 PC. Here is what I've done:

  1. Changed bios configuration so that now pc's waking when I turn on AC switch
  2. Installed Windows XP and configured so that I can turn off remotelly, changed workgroup name to "WG1", and pc name to "ExamPC"
  3. Then created acronis backup image of this pc
  4. I installed this image in several PC's and tried to test
  5. All worked well till windows opened. The problem is, all tested PC's started Windows nearly at the same time, and all of them popped up error Duplicate name exist.

I can't figure out any solution. Any suggestions?

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4 Answers 4

You are getting that error because windows requires the computer name to be unique on a LAN. You must have the names be different for each machine.

The easiest way to solve this is before you make your CD image you need to run Sysprep on your source computer. It will bring the computer back to the "First time you turned it on" state where it asks you to set things up like the timezone and computer name.

If you are willing to learn some new skills you can do some things with the configuration files(sysprep.inf) so it would run a script that could contact a central server, or query a usb stick and get the name of the computer. Here is a useful link I found after some quick googling that may help you get started down that path if you want to have the computers name themselves.

Running sysprep also does some other things like causing the computer to generate a new SID (security identifier), if you ever want to join these cloned computers to a domain they all must have unique identifiers or you will have odd, non obvious bugs (I learned this the hard way).

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Even though the NetBIOS protocol is old and as far as I know not used much (except for small LANs with no DNS), Windows supports it (through NetBIOS over IP) but it's not critical for normal network activity since it's all based on IP. Anyway, as suggsted above you should run Sysprep (preferably before taking the image, but not critical), or the less invasive Sysinternals' NewSID (which they've deprecated but only because Microsoft doesn't like - it should work perfectly on XP), or the simplest way is just change their name (good only for non-domain LANs). BTW, since you've got 70 stations, you should consider building a normal domain. If that's not an option, then you should use psexec and a script to configure all this computers quickly.

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you use workgroup scheme on a network which contains 70 PCs.????? workgroup is suitable for networks with 8 PCs approximately. using workgroup causes your network bandwidth to be slowed down....because it use broadcasting.

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NetBIOS PC names should be "ExamPC1", "ExamPC2", ... "ExamPCn"

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how to do it on acronis image? –  user978733 Dec 9 '12 at 10:39
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