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Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Part 4. Deploying a base image

. Posted in Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

This article will explain how to deploy a WDS captured, HAL independent Windows XP image.

Machines that are to have an image deployed to them must first be configured to boot from the network card using PXE.

PXE (Preboot eXecution Environment) works with the network interface card (NIC) in the machine and makes the NIC a valid boot device.  It allows the client machine to boot from the network by receiving a 'boot image file' from the WDS server.

1. Configure the client machine to boot from the NIC.

This must be done within the BIOS settings of the client machine which is usually accessed by entering a key during power on.  The keys vary by model and brand although F1, F2, F12, DEL and ESC are common choices.  If you don't already know the correct key for your particular machine, it is a good idea to find out before running SYSPREP/MySYSPREP.  If the machine continues booting into Windows, Mini-Setup will run and you will have to repeat a lot of prior work!

In BIOS setup, locate the menu for changing the startup sequence.  Set the first boot device to be the NIC card (sometimes refered to as a PXE or LAN option).

It may not be necessary to perform this step if your machines allow you to alter the boot device at power on.  The Dell machines that I work with predominently allow me to enter the boot menu by pressing F12 at power on.  From here, I can select to boot from the onboard NIC without altering the default startup sequence.

2. Deploy the base image.

Boot the client machine from the network card (either by altering the startup sequence or by pressing F12 as detailed above).

The client machine will attempt to contact a DHCP server to obtain an IP address after which you will be prompted to press F12 to initiate the PXE boot process.  You will only have a few seconds to press F12 before the network boot process is cancelled and the BIOS will move to the next configured boot device.

The machine will then contact the WDS server and boot the client into a DOS like environment - 'Windows Boot Manager'.  You are then prompted to select the boot image to use and, if you have followed the steps in the previous articles, should look like the options below:

  • Capture Windows XP Image
  • Deploy Windows XP Image

Select 'Deploy Windows XP Image' and a Vista-like PE (Pre-installation Environment) will boot.  When prompted, change the keyboard and locale options to the appropriate settings and click 'Next'.

When prompted, enter a valid username and password to connect to the WDS server.  This will typically be a 'Domain Admin' account or the server 'Administrator' username/password combination.  Specify the username as DOMAIN\username (replace with your domain name). 

Select an available image to deploy and click 'Next'.

Select the available disc and partition to deploy the image to or choose the 'Advanced options' to create, amend or format the existing partitions before clicking 'Next' to begin the deployment process.

When the image has been successfully deployed, the client will reboot and mini-setup will run automatically.  You may need to amend the boot sequence before the client will successfully boot from the hard drive and therefore into mini-setup.

3. Post deployment tasks.

Depending on the settings specified in your 'sysprep.inf' file, mini-setup should run through the initial and bulk setup of Windows XP.  The 'mysysyprep.inf' and 'sysprep.inf' files detailed earlier in *******name of article******** perform the following steps:

  • Discover the correct HAL type for the specific client machine and swap the appropriate files before mini-setup runs;
  • Run the mini-setup routine unattended, only prompting the user for a valid 'Computer Name';
  • Joins the client to the domain;
  • AD has already had this 'Computer Name' setup (unmanaged account) within the correct OU so the client is immediately able to obtain correct GPO settings on first boot;
  • Reboots and logs in automatically with the Local Admin account;
  • Installs all required hardware drivers;
  • Following a manually invoked reboot, the client is automatically logged in again to continue setting up any remaining drivers etc not correctly initialised on the first boot.
  • Following a final reboot, the client stops at the the Ctrl/Alt + Del screen ready for use.

The entire deployment process is now complete!

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