Software

How to configure the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit

Our MDT series continues with a look at the process of configuring the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit for use in device deployments.

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Image: iStockphoto.com/shironosov

The first entry in our Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) series covered the installation and initial setup process involved in using MDT along with Windows Deployment Services (WDS). This article will focus on the configuration necessary for MDT to work before devices can be provisioned by the server.

Requirements

Prior to starting the configuration process, a few requirements must be addressed:

  • Server running Windows Server 2008 (or later)
  • Windows Deployment Services
  • DHCP
  • DNS
  • Installation Media for Windows 7 (or later)
  • Device drivers for devices to be deployed

Import an operating system

The first step in the configuration process is to launch the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit Workbench and expand the root deployment share directory. Right-click Operating Systems and select Import Operating System from the context menu (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

A wizard will appear to guide you through the import process. When importing files from Windows media (such as a DVD or USB Flash Drive), select Full Set Of Source Files (Figure B) and click Next to proceed.

Figure B

Figure B

Click the Browse button on the next page to select the location of the source that will be imported. (Figure C), then click Next to continue.

Figure C

Figure C

Provide a name for the directory that will be created during the import process (Figure D) and click Next.

Figure D

Figure D

The following page contains a summary of the import process (Figure E). Verify that it's correct and click Next to begin importing (Figure F).

Figure E

Figure E

Figure F

Figure F

The import process typically completes in approximately 10 mins, though it largely depends on the size of the source being imported and the media you're copying the files from. Once it's done, your new OS will be imported into MDT and you're one step closer to deployment (Figure G).

Figure G

Figure G

Note: If you click the View Script button on the confirmation page of any wizard in MDT, it will display the PowerShell command(s) used in executing the task. You can save these text files for future use and later convert them to .PS1 files to script much of the MDT management process.

SEE: How to get started with Windows Deployment Services

Import device drivers

Similar to importing an OS in MDT, device drivers must also be imported to ensure that client devices being deployed obtain all their necessary software updates and drivers to function correctly. Newer OSes tend to contain updated drivers for some devices; however, not all devices may be supported natively. When this occurs, visit the manufacturer's website to obtain the latest supported drivers for your device(s) and import them into MDT.

First, right-click Out-of-Box Drivers and select Import Drivers from the context menu (Figure H).

Figure H

Figure H

Use the Browse button to locate the root directory that contains the drivers you want to import (Figure I).

Figure I

Figure I

The following page will contain a summary of the directory to import (Figure J). Click Next.

Figure J

Figure J

Depending on the number of drivers to import, this process could be quite lengthy. MDT will automatically sort drivers imported to the deployment share based on component type (Figure K).

Figure K

Figure K

Upon completion of the task, you'll be presented with the confirmation screen (Figure L). Double-check the Out-of-Box Drivers pane to ensure that the drivers imported correctly (Figure M).

Figure L

Figure L

Figure M

Figure M

Create a task sequence

A task sequence (TS) is essentially a table of contents that determines how an OS will be installed, what drivers will be included, and whether any additional updates or software packages will be installed. More than that, though, a TS will determine whether a deployment requires formatting and disk partitioning or whether it's being performed as an in-place upgrade—all through a series of interconnected scripts managed through MDT. Here are the steps you need to follow.

Right-click Task Sequences and select New Task Sequence from the context menu (Figure N).

Figure N

Figure N

Items highlighted with an exclamation point are required. Assign A Task Sequence ID is how MDT identifies a TS internally. Be sure to provide a Task Sequence Name (Figure O), which makes it easier to identify and will represent how the TS is displayed to users during the deployment process.

Figure O

Figure O

The template page of the wizard lets you select a template for how the TS will behave. Typically, a deployment will involve formatting and partitioning the drive, then installing an image of the OS. For this type of installation, select the Standard Client Task Sequence from the dropdown menu. Clicking Next will allow you to configure settings for the TS (Figure P).

Figure P

Figure P

Select the operating system you want to deploy with the TS and click Next (Figure Q).

Figure Q

Figure Q

If you need to enter a product key, put it into the correlated field (Figure R). Otherwise, just click Next to proceed to enter the registration information (Figure S).

Figure R

Figure R

Figure S

Figure S

The last page before the summary allows you to enter the password for the local Administrator account on the client machine(s) to be deployed (Figure T). If no password is specified, the default behavior is for the local Admin account to be disabled in Windows 7 and later.

Figure T

Figure T

Once the Task Sequence has been configured, it will be added to the Task Sequences directory for future deployments (Figure U).

Figure U

Figure U

Modify the deployment share

The deployment share (DS) contains a repository of all the operating systems, drivers, and applications -along with their configurations and scripts -that will be used during the deployment process for client and server devices. MDT has many undocumented configurations that will allow admins to streamline the deployment process to support multiple configurations, automate deployments across a site (or multiple geographically opposed sites), or both. The aim of this article is to get you up and running with MDT, but future articles will focus more heavily on advanced settings and configurations to simplify the process of supporting hundreds or thousands of devices.

Right-click the root deployment share and select Properties (Figure V) to bring up the configuration page for the DS.

Figure V

Figure V

Under the General tab, ensure that the UNC and local paths to the share are correct and that the Platforms Supported check boxes are selected for only the architectures needed for your environment. This will cut down on the overhead maintenance during subsequent updates. Lastly, if multicast capability is necessary, select the Enable Multicast check box so that a connection is automatically made with WDS to allow for multicast streaming (Figure W).

Figure W

Figure W

The Rules tab contains the first half of the heart of the MDT DS, with the Edit Bootstrap.ini button containing the second half. Be careful when modifying settings in either of these files, since they will affect everything that is deployed (or captured) in MDT. For now, the default settings should be enough to get the process started in deploying and logging clients (Figure X).

Figure X

Figure X

The Monitoring tab enables the client monitoring feature, which centralizes logging info for the various clients that are deployed via MDT and is helpful when diagnosing errors down the line (Figure Y).

Figure Y

Figure Y

After making any changes to the properties or the deployment share itself, it's always a good practice to update the share by right-clicking the root and selecting Update Deployment Share (Figure Z).

Figure Z

Figure Z

Selecting Optimize The Boot Image will allow for any existing boot images to be checked and have any obsolete data removed to keep file sizes as low as possible (Figure AA).

Figure AA

Figure AA

Click Next on the Summary screen to begin updating the share and the resulting boot images as well (Figure AB).

Figure AB

Figure AB

Note that this process can take several hours to complete, as it depends on the number of drivers and the type of storage to compile the boot images. Once the task has completed, however, the Multicast stream will be created in WDS (if enabled) and the boot images will be ready for importing in Windows Deployment Service's Boot Images node for PXE booting (Figure AC).

Figure AC

Figure AC

Import MDT boot images into WDS

When paired with MDT, WDS essentially performs two functions: PXE booting of client devices and multicast streaming of MDT images. Microsoft Deployment Toolkit will handle everything else through its centralized repository.

Launch Window Deployment Services and right-click the Boot Images node. Select Add Boot Image from the context menu (Figure AD).

Figure AD

Figure AD

When the Image wizard appears, select the Browse button to navigate to the Deployment Share | Boot directory to locate the image to import (Figure AE).

Figure AE

Figure AE

Provide a name for the Boot Image. This name will be displayed during the PXE process (Figure AF).

Figure AF

Figure AF

On the next page, confirm that the Summary page is correct (Figure AG), then click Next to begin importing (Figure AH).

Figure AG

Figure AG

Figure AH

Figure AL

Once importing is complete (Figure AI), click the Finish button. The Boot Image will be stored under the Boot Images node in WDS. You are now ready to deploy client devices (Figure AJ).

Figure AI

Figure AI

Figure AJ

Figure AJ

Other WDT tips?

What has been your experience using the Windows Deployment Toolkit? Share your advice with fellow TechRepublic members.

About Jesus Vigo

Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from seve...

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