Capturing customized OS images and install with Microsoft deployment toolkit (MDT) & Windows deployment server (WDS)

Image based OS deployments will save a lot of time for system admins. Post your comments and feel free to post your questions on comments.
The components used to achieve this are,

  1. Microsoft deployment toolkit (MDT)
  2. Windows deployment services (WDS)
  3. Imagex utility
These tools can be downloaded from Microsoft. WIM is the image format which is used here.
System Requirements
Operating System : Windows 2003 Service Pack 2
Other requirements: Active Directory, DHCP and DNS Servers on Network
  1. Install Windows deployment services through add/remove windows components. Insert windows 2003 disk when it’s prompting
  1. Download Microsoft deployment toolkit from and install with default options
  2. Download Windows Automated installation Kit (WAIK) from Microsoft. This package contains the Imagex utility. Install it with default options
Click Start à All Programs àMicrosoft deployment toolkit àDeployment Workbench
To add new operating system source files or image, right click on
Operating Systems à New
We can add windows source files for conventional remote installation or captured custom image files. Choose the option accordingly
Go with the wizard by selecting default options and click finish
Right click on Task Sequenceà New
Provide Task sequence ID and Name and then click Next
Select Standard Task Sequence and click Next
Select the Operating system or Image which you want to install using this task sequence and click Next. We need to create different task sequences for different OS Images
Enter the VLK Product key and click Next
Enter the username, company and IE Home page details
Provide the Local Administrator password which you want and click Finish
Now Click Deploy à right click on deployment point àNew
Select Lab or single-server deployment and click Next
Provide deployment point name (Ex. MY_DEPLOYMENT_POINT) and click Next
Go with the wizard and select the options according to the requirement and select/create the deployment share. Deployment share used to store the installation image files, OS Source files and Scripts
Now the Microsoft Deployment toolkit will create two boot images in,
<Deployment Share you selected>\Boot\
Here, we are using WDS for PXE network booting
To Open the WDS Console,
Go to Programs->Administrative Tools->Windows Deployment Services
Note: To perform the following tasks you will need to be logged into the domain as an Enterprise Administrator. This will authorize the WDS service in the domain.
Click on the + symbol to expand the Servers option, and then right click on the server name in the listàClick Configure Server.
Choose a folder to store your PE images.
Once you have specified a location click Nextà click Finish. The WDS wizard will complete the configuration of the Server.
In the WDS window, as shown in the above snapshot, right click on Boot Images and click Add. Browse the location, <Distribution share you created for MDT>\Boot
Select and add both the image files (with .wim extn) one by one clip_image016
Right click on the Server name and then click properties, and navigate to the boot tab. We can find the lists the programs that should be used when a computer connects to the WDS server and request the boot loader. These programs that are listed are the network boot loaders
Click Browse and choose the boot loaders which end with n12
Note: In order to get these programs we must need to add a boot image.
It's the boot loaders that end in n12 are actually pretty useful. These allow you to start a network installation without have to press F12 a second time (Or after having chosen a network boot) to confirm the installation. So, we choose this as default boot program.
Prepare PC/Laptop with fresh OS installation, all required drivers. Install all the windows/antivirus updates and configure/customize the OS and applications the way you want like MS Office, VPN client, printers, net meeting, etc. Don’t migrate to domain
Now, boot the PC using the PXE network boot. Once you have booted up you will now be presented with a boot manager menu.
Choose Generic Windows PE and hit Enter.
Once the Generic PE image has booted up to the command prompt we need to Map the distribution share on the MDT server
On the prompt, type the command:
net use m: \\<MDT_server>\distribution$
It will prompt for valid credentials to log into the server. Type the valid domain username and password and you will be taken to the M drive
Change directory as mentioned below
cd tools\x86
To create/capture an image a typical command would be:
imagex /compress maximum /capture c:\ m:\captures\T61.wim “T61_image_1"
c:\ -- Source partition which we captured
maximum -- Use maximum compression
This will create a new wim file called "T61.wim" with an image called "T61_image_1" in the network drive.
We have add this captured image into MDT using above mentioned procedures
We have to create/capture different image for each different hardware.
Note: Imagex tool must be copied in distribution share/network drive which we are mapping. We can find Imagex tool in WAIK installation directory

Boot a client computer.
Press F12. It will pop up boot menu. Select network boot and press enter key.
Note: Client Computer and WDS Server must be in the same subnet for successful WinPE booting or use the boot CD to boot the system into WinPE
Select Lite Touch Windows PE (x86)
Choose the correct Keyboard layout for your needs, and click "Next"
You will be presented with a screen asking for an account with permissions to access the Distribution share which your set up on your MDT server.
Select the OS or Image which you want to install from the list according to the HW Model and OS requirement
If it is compatible image not listed, you can choose the operating system source for conventional remote installation.
If you are doing image based installation, skip all other settings like system name, time zone by selecting defaults on wizard.
Click "Begin" to deploy the Operating System
It will reboot the system once the OS installed.
Installing and configuring a new hardware according the corporate standard will take 3-4 hours in the manual work. Using this image based installation, new installations can be done within 20 minutes. This will save more time and increases productivity.

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January 7, 2014 at 5:29 PM delete

Good very specific document
Avinash Shitole


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