QUOTE (mydeal @ 2-16-11, 1:38pm)
Thanks for the replies. I believe that all of the software has site lic. except for the OS (Win XP Pro) which has licenses that came with the machines (Dells). I think that means that they are OEM licenses for the OS. this page
makes me a little nervous about the ability to change the product key, but I don't have any experience on this. When I've done an install from scratch, it hasn't asked for the product key on the box. Does that mean that I'm using Volume Lic. media? Is this going to bite me down the line?
I'll take a look at the options suggested so far. Thanks!
Are you wanting a server-based network system, or are you simply wanting to create an image (say on an external hard drive) which can be used to re-image the machines to a specific site image as defined by the school?
If you are sure all of your software is site-licensed so you don't have to worry about licensing, the Dell XP OS shouldn't be a problem. Dell factory images the machines using their volume key, which never has to be activated. Dell's restore process (at least on XP, anyway) is BIOS-locked, so you don't have to change the key on the machine (i.e. if you use the restore CD on a machine with a Dell BIOS, it will skip activation - this is the reason you can use just about any Dell restore CD to restore any Dell XP-based machine). There is no need to change the Windows product key to the one on the machine COA because the factory key itself is valid.
If you want to experiment with doing this using an external hard drive, I'd reimage one of the machines back to Dell's factory image. Install all XP updates, then install all of your site specific software. Once the machine has everything installed and is configured exactly like you want it, use your cloning software to create your image (Acronis has a 21 day free trial you can play with - you can create a bootable Acronis restore DVD to boot on the machines being imaged to load the image from the USB drive). Clonezilla, which is free, also might be an acceptable option as well.
Networking might be the only problem -- for a simple network, all you'd need to do is change the machine's network name after imaging it (a few seconds work) and reboot. For a machine joined to a domain, however, the issues would be far more complex.