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Recent Comments

"@Tobias - thanks for the comments - we probably didn't spell it out clearly enough in the last sentence of the "What MDT and WDS bring to the Table" section, but we agree - ZTI and other user-driven methods DO require System Center." Read more
by Nathaniel Bauer on The Sometimes Confusing Relationship Between WDS and MDT

"Good post sir." Read more
by Jeff Stokes on So Which Is It - ImageX or DISM?

"I think you made a mistake here. MDT does not support ZTI or ZeroTouch installations. Only LiteTouch. For a ZTI SCCM is required, but still you can manage to run the installation with at least one single click - so almost totally automated. But still ..." Read more
by Tobias on The Sometimes Confusing Relationship Between WDS and MDT



Posted by: Nathaniel Bauer on 2/24/2014 | 0 Comments

Latest UIU Tutorial Video- Ghost Console


If you are using Ghost Console to deploy your OS images, this brief instructional video will show you how to easily integrate the Universal Imaging Utility to deploy to any laptop or desktop in your environment.


 


The latest version of the UIU for Ghost also fully integrates with Symantec Ghost Solution Suite and Ghost Cast Server.

Read more information about the UIU for Ghost


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Posted by: Nathaniel Bauer on 2/19/2014 | 0 Comments

Sometimes you need to deploy a Windows OS to a PC or PCs that are not connected to a network, or to a PC that exists on a network where deployment services (PXE/network boot) are not provided. What do you do? Revert back to old “sneakernet” procedures and suffer the 45-60min manual setup which, due to its mundane nature, will inevitably result in a Windows configuration that is not entirely consistent? What if you have an entire office of machines that need to be imaged?

Well, most modern Operating System imaging solutions include an off-network or “offline” option that will allow you image PCs regardless of their network connectivity. Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) is no exception. But just like any other OS deployment solution, additional considerations must be made in order to optimize this process in your environment.

First, you need to determine what operating systems and applications need to be made available in the offline media package. Will you be using more than one version of Windows? What applications will the user(s) need? Which applications are you prepared to install manually (one-offs)? Be thorough.

Next, configure your MDT Task sequence or sequences in a manner consistent with your network policies to ensure consistency in your environment. Now, if you simply create offline media with MDT, all applications will be included in the ISO. This can get large and unwieldy, making media creation inordinately lengthy and increase the time required to image each individual PC. See the problem? There is a solution. Create sub-folders in the Deployment Share and copy appropriate content from the Deployment Share to each sub-folder created.

Next, create a New Selection Profile, choosing only the Applications and Operating Systems that are desired for the particular off-network deployment. Note that some plug-ins will require that you create a subfolder for their inclusion in the final, offline media build.

Then, when the offline media is built with MDT via “Create New Media”, simply mount the ISO and copy the contents from the designated “Content” folder to a bootable, physical, removable media (USB is recommended due to the probable large size) and boot on the necessary PCs. Let the MDT Task Sequence do its trick. I know I don’t have to say it, but I will anyhow; make sure to test your MDT offline media prior to use in production.


Here’s a sample procedure:


  1. The configured MDT environment must have ability to deploy images (prerequisite).

  2. Prepare the desired offline deployment task sequence. (According to network policies)




  3. Creating off network media

    1. If Deployment Share has multiple operating systems, applications, or packages, now is the time to create folders so that an optimized (slim) offline selection profile can be created. Copy appropriate content from the Deployment Share to each folder created. These folders may be selected individually to exclude unwanted applications from being copied to the off-network media.

    2. Under Advanced Configuration>Selection Profiles, create a New Selection Profile choosing only the Applications and Operating Systems that are desired for the particular off-network deployment.

      NOTE: Selecting more than what is necessary will result in larger than necessary ISO files and USB storage requirements.




    3. Once the selection profile has been created, right-click on Advanced Configuration>Media and Create New Media using the selection profile above. Remember the Save Location that you designate in this wizard for later use.




    4. Format USB drive (recommended) using Diskpart.exe. This USB drive should be large enough to hold the entire media as defined by the Selection Profile used. (As a point of note, the inclusion of Win7x64 and the off-network task sequence “bare bones configuration” is approximately 3 Gb in size. )

      1. On a computer running the Windows 7 operating system, insert the USB drive.

      2. From a command prompt, run Diskpart.exe

        1. Execute the command “list disk” to determine the disk number associated with the device. 
        2. Input the following commands, where N is the disk number identified in the previous step:
          1. select disk N
          2. clean
          3. create partition primary
          4. select partition 1
          5. active
          6. format fs=fat32 [ntfs] [quick]
          7. assign
          8. exit

            Note: UEFI partitions will only boot with fat32 formatted USB drives. Diskpart.exe is a powerful utility and can cause damage to your system. Make sure to format the correct drive!
    5. After media has been created there will be a “Content” folder in the save location that was chosen in step 4.c. Copy the contents of the Content folder to your freshly formatted USB.

  4. Test the bootable USB containing the off-network media for desired results before implementing the process in any production environment.

    In summary, although additional planning and configuration is required, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit is capable of deploying Windows operating systems and applications regardless of network connectivity or network boot services.

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Posted by: Nathaniel Bauer on 2/12/2014 | 0 Comments

Utilizing the Dell KACE K2000 Deployment Appliance to deploy Windows operating systems images gives admins a fully integrated systems provisioning solution.

The challenge with deploying an OS to disparate hardware still always comes down to device driver management. While KACE offers features like computer scanning and assessment, managing the unique drivers for each existing recipient machine, let alone new machines, is still a cumbersome process.

Below is a solution for deploying a single OS image with the Dell KACE K2000 Deployment appliance to any laptop or desktop regardless of manufacturer or model when used in conjunction with the Universal Imaging Utility.


1.    Create an Active Directory Domain Service Account for use with the UIU.
2.    Create a “Repository” Folder that is a Share on a Server that will be accessible or on   
       the Same Subnet as the KACE Server where you are deploying the images.
  • For Example: \\Server. Domain.com\Repository
  • This is a Folder on the Server and is shared with the name “Repository”.
  • Add the Above Active Directory Domain Service Account to the Security of the “Repository” Share with Read and Write Rights.
Once the Domain Account is created, the Shared Doled is created and the Folder rights are assigned, open the Dell KACE Web Console of your Appliance.

3.    Install the UIU 5 using the Domain Service Account and shared “Repository” folder.
4.    Open the WEB interface of the Dell KACE Appliance and Login



5.    Click on the Library Tab



6.    Click on the Postinstallation Tasks Tab




7.    Click on the Choose Action… Drop Down and select Add New BAT Script…



8.    Provide the Mid-Level Task with a Name, be sure to select the Runtime Environment:  
       “K2000 Boot Environment (Windows)”, then enter the following two command Lines   
        under BAT Script: and enter a description in the Notes: field and click on the Save
        Button.

Command Line 1:  Net Use \\Server.Domain.com\Repository /user: Domain\DomainServiceAccount Password

Command Line 2:  \\Server. Domain.com\Repository\x86\uiuprep.exe -run -license “UIU Product Key”

Reminder: Substitute real values for Server, Domain, Account, Password and UIU Product Key




Once the Mid-Level Task is saved, add it to your Deployment Package

9.    Click on the Deployments tab and choose the desired Deployment Package




10.    Scroll down to the Mid-Level Tasks, grab the UIU Task and drag it under the Run
         Mid-Level Tasks field.
        
Please note:  When you hover over and grab the task to drop it, your cursor will turn 
into a cross arrow as shown.



11.    Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and click on the Save Button




When the KACE deployment task sequence is executed, the OS will be deployed and the mid-level task(s) will invoke the UIU to perform its driver servicing operations and facilitate the staging of only the drivers required for each affected machine.


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