Those of you who work as a network administrator and have to deal with either the addition of multiple computers to a network or constant reformatting are surely familiar with RIS, or Remote Installation Services. RIS is a great way to easily deploy images across a network, and best of all it's a free program included with Windows Server! However, I have experienced great pains in the past dealing with troublesome network drivers (Damn Intel Pro 100VE!) which will prevent you from successfully deploying your image. In order to add the appropriate network driver to your image you had to create the dreaded \$oem$\$1\Drivers\Nic series of folders that RIS could recognize and then modify the .sif file. Of course, this is easier said than done, and not all network drivers worked will with RIS. Well, for me those days are gone, now that windows has released WDS or Windows Deployment Services. WDS is the new, updated version of RIS that was designed for Vista deployment from the upcoming Longhorn Server which is to be released later this year. WDS is included in the newly released Windows 2003 SP2, or it can be downloaded independently from Microsoft. Not planning on running Vista in your organization? No problem, WDS works great with XP Pro as well! WDS uses a new format for images called a WIM, which when used with Vista is hardware independent. That's right, from now on as far as Vista is concerned you do not have to worry about hardware abstraction layers anymore! You can also service the image offline, including adding and deleting optional components, updates, and drivers, without fundamentally creating a new image. In the following steps I will describe how to use WDS to deploy XP Pro images across your network from a Windows 2003 server:
> Download the Microsoft Vista AIK or Automated Installation Kit here
> Burn the Image to disc or mount with Daemon tools which can be found here
> Right click and Explore the AIK Disc
> Open the WDS folder and install the appropriate WDS version: 64 bit or x86 then reboot the server
> Double click the WinPE Zip file and extract both files: F1_WinPE and F3_WinPE
The files you have extracted in the last step are WinPE bootable operating systems, which will be used to capture the sysprepped image and upload it to the server. To deploy the images you will PXE boot into these PE os environments to install the sysprepped image on a bare metal computer.
> Start WDS and follow the configuration steps listed below:
1. On the Start menu, click Administrative Tools, and then click Windows Deployment Services
2. In the left pane of the Windows Deployment Services MMC snap-in, expand the server list.
3. Click the server that you want to manage..
4. If the server is not in the servers list, right-click the Servers node to add a server.
5. In the Add Server(s) dialog box, click Another computer, and then browse to select the computer to manage.
6. In the Add Server Warning dialog box, click Yes to add the server.
7. Right-click the server that you want to manage, and click Configure Server to start the Windows Deployment Services Configuration Wizard.
8. At the Welcome page, click Next.
9. At the Remote Installation Folder Location page, click Next to accept the default location (C:\RemoteInstall).
10.If the Microsoft DHCP service is on the server that is being configured as a Windows Deployment Services server, set DHCP Option 60 to PXEClient and set Windows Deployment Services to Do not listen on Port 67.
11. On the PXE Server Initial Settings page, click Respond to all (known and unknown) client computers.
12. Click Finish
> Now in the WDS MMC right click the "Boot Images" folder and select "Add Boot Image"
> Browse to the location you saved the WinPE we extracted earlier: F1_WinPE and F3_WinPE
> Select to add both images and once finished restart WDS and a few boot images will now appear in the "Boot Images" folder, but the one we will concentrate on is the "Windows Vista PE" image.
> Right click the "Windows Vista PE" image and select "Create Capture Boot Image" This is the PE environment we will use to move our sysprep image from the workstation to the server.
> Name the capture image and select a place to save it and click Next
> Now right click the "Boot Images" folder and select to add another boot image
> Navigate to the location you just saved you capture image and import it to WDS
> You will now see your capture image in the "Boot Images" folder, and this means we are now ready to get our workstation ready to be sysprepped!
> Install Windows XP Pro on the workstation along with whatever software you would like on the image to be deployed such as Office 2003, Acrobat etc.
> Create a folder in the root of the C: drive called sysprep
> Put the Windows XP Cd in the drive and navigate to the Support folder
> Extract "Deploy" to the sysprep folder on the root of C; that you just made
> Go to the sysprep folder and double click "setupmgr.exe" to create the answer file needed for an automatic installation on Windows.
> In the setup manager fill in whatever info you would like such as registration key, default settings etc. This will automatically place the unattended answer file in the appropriate place for Windows to retrieve the information during install.
> Go to the sysprep folder on the root of C: and double click the sysprep executable
> IMPORTANT: In order to properly image your computer to the WDS server you must remove ALL sid information, so tick the box "Use Mini Setup" and click the "RESEAL" button
> Sysprep now does it's thing and shuts the computer down. Assuming your workstation to be imaged is configured to PXE boot restart and press F12 and select Network Boot (If not go into the BIOS and configure the workstation to PXE boot prior to this step)
> The workstation will now get a DHCP address from the WDS server and a text-based selection screen will pop up.
> Select the capture image you created earlier
> You are now booted into a Vista PE environment. Follow the steps to image the appropriate volume and choose a location to save the image on the WDS server.
> Grab a coffee and wait for the image to be moved to the server
> We have now successfully imaged an XP workstation and saved it on the WDS server as a WIM image format!
> On the WDS server right click "Install Images" and select to add an install image
> Browse to the location you saved the sysprepped image we just uploaded to the server and select it.
> The XP Pro image is now located in the "Install Images" folder
> Now go to a bare metal PC with the same HAL as the image machine (HAL independence is only a feature of Vista images) and PXE boot
> Now select the "Microsoft Windows Vista PE", NOT the capture image! We do not want to capture an image in this step, we want to install one!
> A Vista PE install environment opens and you can now select the XP Pro image to install
And that's it! Since we are using a Vista PE 2.0 environment that has all modern network drivers slipstreamed we no longer have to worry about adding the drivers just to install the image. What's more, you may have noticed a "Add Drivers" link in the PE environment install page, which can be used to automatically add drivers to the install image by CD or USB key! No more modifying .sif files, no more driver directories on the flat RIS image!