WDS for custom image deployment via PXE RRS feed

  • Question

  • I've recently spun up a 2012R2 server and I'd like to use it so I can netboot clients to it and install a custom image on the machine, no hassle.  I have figured out how to take an image from a Windows 7 install disk and add drivers to it. However, I'm wondering the best way that I could configure an image to use that has all programs, profiles, updates, and drivers on it for a 'universal' install. Is this possible?

    For example, can I have a 32-bit image that has Chrome, FireFox, and some other programs on it, complete with any drivers that might be needed for NIC and WLAN cards, graphics adapters, etc? And then a 64-bit image for the same thing. Ideally, these would house drivers for any of our machines, so I could PXE boot a 64- or 32-bit desktop or laptop, regardless of the model (They're all one manufacturer) and have them install the image and be configured, ready to go?

    I would also like to know how I could create a custom image/ISO from a machine that is already ready-to-go as a template.

    Thank you for answers in advance.

    If it helps, i'm on a Windows 8.1 x64 machine myself, but the machines I'd like to image are Windows 7 (both x86 and x64).

    Thursday, September 25, 2014 12:11 AM

All replies

  • Yea.  In a nut shell:

    1. Do the install and create the needless account the setup process forces you to create.

    2. On first log in enable the original default Administrator account and give it a password

    3. Log in with the default Administrator account.

    4. Delete the local account that setup forced you to create

    5. Go to Advanced system Settings --> User Profiles, and remove the profile for that account.  This is important,...this removes the registry entries for the Profile as well (just deleting the folder structure under "C:\Users" does not, and problems can result).

    6. Build your image model from this point using the original default local Administrator account.  This is the only account that Sysprep will leave on the machine when it is run. Note the machine is not a Domain Member when I am at this point.  I only join the machine that I apply the image to when I finally deploy the machine to be used .

    7. Run Sysprep on the machine to prepare it for duplication, then shutdown or reboot.  When starting up you do not want to allow it to boot into the OS or you will have to rerun Sysprep again.   You can use WDS to "capture" an image after doing a network boot from the Nic.  You can also boot the machine using a Windows PE bootdisk and manually capture an image with ImageX (comes with WAIK for Win7).  But ImageX is commandline only and annoying,...there is a GUI alternative called GImageX (google it). Then manually copy the captured image to the WDS Server.  Note when you capture an image,..you are only capturing the Boot Partition,...not the entire drive.

    The details of all this you can sort out by studying "how to use" WDS and WAIK (Win7).  That should put you on the right track.

    A source for creating a bootable Windows PE disk is here.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014 7:07 PM
  • Awesome, thank you very much!

    Now, going through this process say on a Dell Latitude 6430u laptop, would I be able to use the captured image for, say, a Dell Optiplex 9010 desktop? Or would the underlying chipsets and drivers cause it to fail?

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014 8:22 PM
  • Beginning with Vista and newer (and with Server 2008 and newer on the server side of things) the OS's are more hardware neutral after Sysprep is run.  This wasn't the case with XP/Server2003 and older.  You still might have to install drivers if the hardware is different from what the image was created on but it should at least start up without crashing and give you the opportunity to install drivers.

    With Sysprep there are command line parameters and/or "answer file"  entries that you can use to control how it behaves. For example you can allow it to remove all hardware specific drivers to make it "hardware neutral" (I believe is the default) or have it keep the ones you installed when you created the model machine.  I won't try to give too many details off the top of my head because I'd screw that up, but studying the WAIK material should have all that.  There is a new version of WAIK for Win8 and it has a new name,...but it is basically the same, or at least similar, product.  However WAIK with Win7 and WDS in Server2008 are all I have personally worked with.

    Thursday, October 16, 2014 7:18 PM