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When I first got into doing a large deployment, I started with MDT 2008, since it’s a great way to build the image.   The environment I was deploying into was Server 2008 and soon I discovered Windows Deployment Services.  This is the component that allows you to create network based boots, PXE Enabled setups.

And honestly the first time I got into it, I started at it backwards.  I presumed that I needed MDT to use WDS.  No it’s the other way around.

Windows Deployment Services is the HEART of the system.  You start by installing it.   MDT is a TOOL that makes the images that WDS CAN use but WDS can run all by itself.   Import it’s own images.

 

I found that out this weekend.  I finally updated my main box to Server 2008 R2 (another post in itself, that was too easy!) and decided to start REALLY learning all about Server 2008 R2 and it’s infrastructure. (Especially POWERSHELL).

When I did my server update I used the USB key.  I forgot to keep an ISO file handy or burn to DVD.

 

As a result of this we run into my second problem.  I IMMEDIATELY wanted to start playing with Server 2008R2 core in my Hyper-V environment but since Hyper-V does not allow USB passthru and my install media WAS a USB key, a stumbling block.  Thus why I got into WDS.

In Server 2008 R2 (and Server 2008) it’s an easy solution.  Just add in the ROLE “Windows Deployment Services”.   There are two additional selections, the “Deployment Server” and “Transport Server”.   The Full WDS requires BOTH a “Deployment Server” and “Transport Server”.   If you only install the “Transport Server” the server will only be good for Multicasting.  Think of the “Transport Server” as the “CORE” version of WDS.

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Once it’s added in, it’s a few clicks to have that Media deployable over the Network.   You’ll have to run through a few clicks of course.   Just enter the new console under Server Manager or Administrative Tools for “Windows Deployment Services”, right click on the Server in question and choose “Configure Server”

 

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The Step by Step Wizard is pretty self explanatory with its questions.  Where do I store the Images?  Which machines are allowed to use this server for a PXE boot?

Then of course you’ll get asked to install some images into the Repository.   Even if you just have a USB key with the install media it will do fine.   The media does NOT need to be bootable for this to work, You’ll get prompted to give a name to describe the new Group for the Images.  This way you can look in the Console and see Server, Workstations, Legacy, Utilities all broken down in a sensible manner.   Really not much to just get going!

Once completed you’ll have a loaded repository of images including boot files.  At this point you should be able to enable the Boot from PXE / LAN option in the network rom and install a system over the wire.  In some systems you can select a boot menu, if you can choose “Network”.   You’ll find now you can start the computer and hit F12 by default to install over the network. 

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If for no other reason, I found this immensely handy if I had a legacy server that couldn’t read DVD media but was up to spec for Server 2008.    Being able to install over the LAN was a tremendous bonus in that situation.   But what’s really nice about this is I can keep a SINGLE repository of all my images.   And when and newer updated version comes out, I don’t have to redo everything, I just remove the older version of the O/S and replace it with the new!

 

Technology, my greatest friend 🙂

 

Sean
The Energized Tech

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