Automating Windows !!

3 03 2006

I never knew that automating something for windows is going to be this tough… 😦
I had started with a simple task of installing multiple images of the operating system configurations on to a single system. It sounded simple and the initial response I got from the all prevailing Google (and also some browsing by good ole Amazon A9) was also good, then started the task of converting theory to practicality… 🙂

I had been going through a lot of material on the same and those suggested by my Project Manager and team members, along with the senior members of the Company. Well! So on that track I started with a tool/application called Acronis (with its sub tool as Disk Director OS Selector), but it was too much of a pain as it used to keep increasing the HDD size required by around 700-800MB for each OS (operating system) that it would install on the partition… another quirk of MS that it requires that much for a base install of the Windows OS… 🙂 This was a total no-no for the product that I am planning to test with, as the product checks each and every file on the system for its signature (PE/COFF, Binary, etc.) and then makes those files executable or non-executable depending on the user preferences, so if it took 10 minutes for a 1000MB, it would require 30 for 3GB, which would be too much as my configurations to test increase.

Finally, I settled for a two partition thing for which one was the Controller system and the other was the Test system. But my woes did not end there, as this was not the ideal system that was going to be installed at the client side and something in me told me that this was not a good idea if we were to actually test out a system as is present at the client’s side. So the search began again… and ended with me reading all there is to read on a type of LAN booting called PXE. Now, PXE stands for Preboot eXecution Environment. This line should be able to tell all… 😛

So, now I finally have a neat web page interface to enter the users choice of the OS on which he wishes to check the software on and a PXE server setup with DHCP to determine which image to transfer to the system, so that the Windows configuration is installed and user and relax while the software takes over and executes the test framework and puts the images onto a server share to be reported to the top management or the person testing out the builds…

Lets see how the thing goes… !!

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