Deploying Windows 7 Using Windows Deployment Services (WDS): Step-by-Step – Part I
We had a good look about the possibilities about Windows deployment; regarding Windows 7 we’ve completed a guide using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 (MDT 2010 beta) to capture and deploy unattended installations of Windows 7 with Office 2007 (Post I, Post II and Post III). Also we’ve reviewed how to implement unattended installations of Windows Vista using Windows Deployment Services (Post I, Post II and Post III).
But we didn’t take a look about deploying Windows 7 using Windows Deployment Services (WDS). Now we have a good chance to do that, providing a simple step by step procedure.
Why Using WDS?
Deploying operating systems using technologies like Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 or even System Center Configuration Manager are far more scalable that we can offer using WDS. But there’s always the cost/benefit analysis we should take before deciding to use always the most scalable and dynamic technology available.
Having a robust platform for deployment requires, as always, bigger costs for maintain it; and if there’s no trade off which we can see it in the short term, why bother? Example: We are using one operating system image as a baseline for our branch office with around 15 users; and we usually have to deploy one operating system to users per month. Should we need to allocate considerate hardware and efforts to maintain MDT or SCCM? Probably those technologies will be far more expensive than just using a simple one or even manual deployments.
Windows Deployment Services is a simple and straight forward technology to achieve fast and unattended deployments. Just loading a WIM file and the operating system is available over the network.
So, let’s take a look about a simple step-by-step process to achieve unattended deployments of Windows 7 using WDS.
Prerequisites for WDS
- Active Directory and DNS server in place. The computer running WDS must be a member of an Active Directory.
- An active DHCP server on the network
- An NTFS partition on the server with the WDS role to store your OS images.
- Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK). This is an optional component that we can use to create unattended files.
1. Installing the WDS role on Windows Server 2008
1.1 Installing WDS in Windows Server 2008 is quite simple, just add it as a Server Role from Server Manager.
Besides the core components in WDS, Windows Server 2008 has the multicasting feature for the deployment. Transport Server option gives us that functionality.
1.2 Click on next and then Install.
2. Configure WDS for first use
WDS also has a simple procedure to configure the server, just running a wizard and you’ll be good to go.
2.1 In Administrative tasks open the WDS up in mmc, expand “Servers” then right click on the root name, and “configure server”.
2.2 We’ll need to create a path for the storing of our images. E:\RemoteInstall.
2.3 PXE answer policy, every time a machine boots from the network you can decide if they are going to receive an automatic answer or wait for an administrator decision.
2.4 Uncheck “add images now” select next.
If we have the DHCP server on the same operating system running WDS, we’ll also need to access the WDS server properties and select on the DHCP tab both options: “Do not listen on port 67” and “Configure DHCP option 60 to ‘PXEClient’.
In our case the DHCP role is placed on a different server and those options are not checked.
3. Adding Boot and Default Windows 7 Images
Every environment we are trying to deploy will always need boot images; fortunately we just have to select the boot images included on Windows 7 DVD.
3.1 Right click on “boot images” and select add boot image
3.2 Using a Windows 7 DVD, we can easily find the boot.wim file in “sources” folder.
3.3 Now we can leave the image name to its default or we can change it.
3.4 Confirm settings then continue.
For adding the Windows 7 operating system image is the same procedure to run, but using the “Install Images” folder in WDS console.
3.5 Adding the default Install Image Right click on Install Images in the WDS console and select Add Image.
3.6 Creating a new image group.
3.7 Browse again in “sources” folder and select install.wim.
3.8 Now we are given a choice of all the available versions of the installation media; install.wim contains all the versions available of Windows 7.
We can select just one version to avoid allocating unnecessary space in the hard drive.
Once completed we’ll have available a boot image, plus a default and clean image of Windows 7 to be installed over the network.
4. Capture Boot Image
There’s an important note regarding boot images; to capture a Windows 7 operating system that you’ve already deployed, you’ll need to create a new media set of this boot.wim file.
4.1 Add a new boot image, the same procedure shown above. Open up the WDS console and right click on “boot images” and select “add boot image”.
4.2 Change the name, and description to identify which image is for booting and for capturing; click on “Finish”.
Once the wizard complete, we’ll see the image added to “Boot images”.
4.3 Now select the image name right click, then select “Create Capture Boot Image”.
5. Install, configure, and Sysprep the reference machine
To deploy a customized image of Windows 7 using WDS we must capture it first from an already deployed image.
An operating system by default is not ready to be captured, before doing that we must prepare the image. Sysprep is the tool in charge of removing all the particular components in an installation (computer name, SID, OS product key, etc) and makes this image suitable for capturing.
5.1 We can find sysprep tool in “C:\Windows\system32\sysprep”. Running sysprep.exe will pop a simple GUI, where we can select the options OOBE, Generalize and Reboot after completion.
We can also use the command line: “sysprep /oobe /generalize /reboot”.
Once selected, we’ll see a process running that is going to take a few seconds and the following reboot.
6. Capturing the reference machine
6.1 After sysprep has rebooted our reference machine, boot from PXE network boot, using F12.
The computer will require for an IP address to the DHCP Server which will redirect it to a Boot Server available on the network, in this case WDS. After finding it, it will require a second F12 selection.
It is important to note that if we missed this sequence, we should reboot the machine as soon as possible. If Windows operating system starts, the sysprep clean up performed earlier will be lost and you won’t be available to capture the image.
6.2 Select “Capture (x64)” and press enter
6.3 After this we’ll see the WDS wizard, select next.
6.4 Now select the volume to capture, C:\, and create the image name file.
If we don’t see any volume available to capture, is because the sysprep process did not completed normally and we must run it again.
6.5 Now we will see the screen asking you where to store the WIM file. Select “upload Image to WDS server”, providing the IP address or FQDN. It will also require domain credentials to access the server.
6.6 Select the Image Group you’ve created to store the image. If you don’t have any group created in WDS, you’ll receive the error of no group available.
Now the WDS will create your custom reference image of your client machine.
The process usually takes a while, depending on the operating system characteristics you are capturing.
On the next post we’ll see how to create unattended files with some examples and deploying a this captured Windows 7 image in a full unattended process.