Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 explained

Last week I used an existing Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) 2010 installation on a Windows Server 2008 server. This for creating a new Windows 7 SP1 image and deploying it also. Most of times I install MDT for ConfigMgr integration only. Now for me the change to see MDT features and functionality. In this blog we have a look at the setup and choices made during configuration.

There was already an MDT installation present; this because of Windows XP deployment. Therefore I decided to create a new Deployment Share first. A Deployment Share is the place where packages, drivers and applications will be placed. This is a real share on the disk, so Deployment Share is a good chosen word here.

In MDT 2008 it was necessary to create an additional Deployment Point also. In MDT 2010 this is not needed anymore. All components are placed on a single Deployment Share now. There can be multiple Deployment Shares if you want. This for using different INI-files needed (for example). Multiple Deployment Shares can be opened at the same time in the MDT console. These can be linked, so that when content is changed, it will be updated on the other share(s) also.

After that importing an Operating System image is needed. This can be done with a "Full set of source files" from installation media. The best thing to do is to start a "Standard Client task sequence" to create a new OS image. Just make sure that an image capture is configured in the task sequence used for creating a OS image.

The OS image created can be imported again later to make it available in other task sequences. Select then the "Custom image file" in the "Standard Client task sequence". This task sequence (used for deployment) can be included applications, drivers and motifications also.

Best practice for the task sequence used for capturing, is not including an administator password and product key in it. Also the device used for capturing must be a workgroup member. The administator password and product key can be configured later during deployment.

Now have a look at the Deployment Share properties. These include the Bootstrap.ini and Rules (customsettings.ini) files. These settings will determine  the behaviour during Operating System Deployment. After that an update is needed on the Deployment Share, which will also create the necessary ISO and WIM files (again) needed for Boot functionality.

Make sure to update the Boot image files on Windows Deployment Services (WDS) when new settings are placed in the Bootstrap.ini file. Otherwise it will not be functional when starting a new image deployment.
Note: When using "_SMSTSORGNAME=" the IT Organization name can be changed during task sequence progress.

The ISO file can be used to burn on CD/DVD or USB device for booting from media. The WIM file can be used in Windows Deployment Services (WDS) for booting with PXE boot. Just press F12 during startup en see the magic happen. After choosing the right Boot image, the OS deployment can start without any other messages displayed. In this environment only the computername is needed. That's all needed!

It's nice to see that MDT 2010 is easy to setup and not that hard to use for OS deployment. Just configure the necessary steps needed, and OS deployment will be available. MDT 2010 is (without the usage of ConfigMgr) still a very good deployment solution!

The most common error during re-deployment was the following one:
Property LTISuspend is now = Litetouch has encountered an Environment Error (Boot into WinPE!).
If booting from a USB Flash Disk, please remove all drives before Retrying.
Otherwise, ensure the hard disk is selected first in the boot order of the BIOS.

This because after deployment there may be still C:\MININT or C:\_SMSTaskSequence folders left. When OS deployment is done these folders are not necessary anymore and can be deleted.

The best way for doing this is start from Windows PE and open a command shell. Type in the following commands then: (1) Diskpart (2) Select Disk 0 (3) clean. After that start over again in Windows PE and OS deployment will be functional then.

One last solution is using Johan Arwidmark's Final Configuration script. This script will clean out any Leftover MININT or Sysprep folders. Enable WindowsUpdate, Set a default domain value (read from the JOINDOMAIN environment variable), and then do a proper final reboot. It can be found here: http://www.deployvista.com/Blog/tabid/70/EntryID/61/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Note: You need to set SkipFinalSummary=YES in customsettings.ini (the script will check for it)

Thanks to Anton van Pelt, Twitter: @antonaustirol25 for sharing his knowledge on this!

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