Deploying Windows 7 - Part 29: Completing the LTI Deployment Infrastructure

by [Published on 29 July 2010 / Last Updated on 29 July 2010]

Our series of articles on deploying Windows concludes with the addition of Windows Deployment Services to complete our LTI deployment infrastructure.

If you would like to read previous articles in this series, please go to:

Tip:
You can find more information about automating LTI deployment in the Windows 7 Resource Kit from Microsoft Press. I am the lead author for this Resource Kit and I also maintain the Unofficial Support Site for the Windows 7 Resource Kit with answers to questions posted by readers, as well as links to the latest resources on Windows 7 deployment, administration and troubleshooting.

Deployment is a huge subject and there's still lots to explore on the subject, but for now at least it's time to draw this series to a close and move on to other topics. If you've been following along you should now be able to use MDT to do the following:

  • Install, configure, secure and use MDT to perform Lite Touch Installation (LTI) deployments of Windows 7.

  • Perform a manual or automated LTI deployment of Windows 7 by booting target computers using a LTI WinPE CD.
  • Capture and deploy a reference or master installation of Windows 7.

  • Use the MDT database to deploy a customized installation of Windows 7 together with applications like Microsoft Office to specific target computers that are identified by their UUID, MAC address, or other characteristics.

  • Inject out-of-box drivers into the deployment process in ways appropriate for your environment.
  • Use WSUS to ensure target computers are fully patched as part of the deployment process.

There's one thing we still need to take care of however: How can we start the deployment process automatically instead of having to boot target computers using the LTI WinPE CD? It would be nice if we could just turn on a computer that has no operating system installed and watch MDT deploy Windows 7 onto the computer without our need of doing anything other than pressing the power button on the computer. Well, you can in fact do this by using Windows Deployment Services (WDS), which was described in detailed in my earlier Deploying Vista series of articles right here on WindowsNetworking.com beginning with article 18 of that series.

So let's now add WDS to our LTI deployment infrastructure to make our MDT deployments even more automated (and save us from the cost and effort having to burn a bunch of CDs). To review, our LTI deployment infrastructure currently has two servers both running Windows Server 2008 R2 and configured as shown in Table 1 below:

Name of server

Roles and software installed

SEA-DC-01

AD DS server role (domain controller)

DSN server role

DHCP server role

SEA-MDT-01

Windows AIK 2.0

MDT 2010

SQL Server Express SP1

WSUS 3.0 SP2

Table 1

We will now complete our LTI deployment infrastructure by adding the WDS role to server SEA-MDT-01.

Installing and Configuring WDS

Begin by launching the Add Roles wizard and select the WDS role:


Figure 1: Step 1 of installing and configuring WDS

Finish the wizard until the role has been installed. Then open the WDS admin console from Administrative Tools and note that WDS still needs to be configured on the server:


Figure 2: Step 2 of installing and configuring WDS

Right-click on the server node under “Servers” (as shown above) and select Configure Server from the shortcut menu. This launches the WDS Configuration wizard which asks you to specify a location for storing images and other files. We'll choose disk volume W on our server, which is dedicated for this purpose:


Figure 3: Step 3 of installing and configuring WDS

On the PXE Server Initial Settings wizard page, we'll select "Respond to all client computers (known and unknown)" which allows any computer with no operating system installed to PXE boot from our WDS computer:


Figure 4: Step 4 of installing and configuring WDS

Finish the WDS Configuration wizard.

Adding the LTI Boot Image to WDS

Once WDS has been configured on our MDT server, we need to import the LTI WinPE image as a boot image in WDS. Remember, MDT can create two types of LTI WinPE images:

  • ISO files you can burn to CDs which you can then use to boot your bare-metal target systems
  • WIM files, which is the type of image you can import into WDS

Open the WDS admin console, right-click on the Boot Images node, and select Add Boot Image:


Figure 5: Step 1 of adding the LTI boot image to WDS

The wizard prompts you for the location of the boot image you want to import:


Figure 6: Step 2 of adding the LTI boot image to WDS

Click Browse and open the Boot folder of your deployment share, and select the LiteTouchPE_x64.wim file:


Figure 7: Step 3 of adding the LTI boot image to WDS

Click Open in the above dialog and then either accept the default name for the image or give it a new name:


Figure 8: Step 4 of adding the LTI boot image to WDS

Finish the steps of the Add Image wizard. The WDS admin console should now display the imported LTI WinPE boot image:


Figure 9: Step 5 of adding the LTI boot image to WDS.

Configuring WDS to Ensure PXE Boot

One final step you should perform is to open the properties of your WDS server, select the Boot tab, and select the second (middle) option to ensure PXE boot is always used for both known and unknown clients:


Figure 10: Configuring WDS to ensure PXE boot

WDS is now installed and configured on your MDT server. Your LTI WinPE boot image has now been imported into WDS. All you need to do now is ensure that the BIOS of your target computers is configured for PXE booting (typically in the order CD, HD, network, floppy) and then you can turn your target computers on and sit back and watch as they PXE boot from WDS, download a boot image, boot into WinPE, and begin installing Windows 7.

Conclusion

To review, our complete LTI deployment infrastructure has two servers both running Windows Server 2008 R2 and configured as shown in Table 2 below:

Name of server

Roles and software installed

SEA-DC-01

AD DS server role (domain controller)

DSN server role

DHCP server role

SEA-MDT-01

Windows AIK 2.0

MDT 2010

SQL Server Express SP1

WSUS 3.0 SP2

Windows Deployment Services

Table 2

You can use such an infrastructure in either your build and/or production environments to create and maintain your master images and/or deploy Windows 7 to target computers across your network. There’s a lot more you can do with deployment, such as using System Center Configuration Manager (ConfigMgr) together with WDS and MDT to perform both LTI and Zero-Touch Installation (ZTI) deployments, but for now we'll bring this series to a close and move on. I hope you've found these articles useful!

Cheers, Mitch Tulloch, MVP [Windows Server – Setup/Deployment].

If you would like to read previous articles in this series, please go to:

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