Deploying Vista – Part 15: Implementing Windows Deployment Services

by [Published on 4 Nov. 2008 / Last Updated on 4 Nov. 2008]

This series of articles on automating Windows Vista deployment continues by looking at how to implement Windows Deployment Service.

If you missed the previous articles in this series, please read:

In the previous article of this series we looked at the rationale behind why Windows DS is needed and examined the different features and components of Windows DS. In this present article and the next one, we will look at how to implement Windows DS within an Active Directory environment.

Implementing Windows DS within your organization's networking infrastructure is basically a three-step process:

  • Preparing your environment to make sure it meets the requirements for implementing Windows DS.
  • Installing the Windows DS role on one or more servers running Windows Server 2008.
  • Performing the initial configuration of the Windows DS servers you have deployed.

This article will examine the first two steps while the next article will look at the third step in the Windows DS implementation process.

Step 1: Preparing Your Environment for Windows DS

To prepare your networking environment for implementing the Windows Server 2008 version of Windows DS, you need the following:

An Active Directory Domain Services environment with at least one domain controller, DNS server, and DHCP server.

A member server running Windows Server 2008 that is joined to the domain and has no roles installed on it.

Figure 1 shows the test environment we will be using for the next several articles. Our environment has two servers belonging to the contoso.com domain located in Seattle (SEA) as follows:

  • SEA-DC1 is a domain controller that also has the DNS and DHCP Server roles installed.
  • SEA-WDS is a member server that currently has no roles installed on it.
  • One or more destination computers with no operating system installed on which you will be deploying Windows Vista SP1 Enterprise edition using your Windows DS deployment environment.


Figure 1: Our test environment for implementing Windows DS for these articles

Note:
For best results the member server you will install Windows DS on should have at least on additional disk volume in addition to the boot/system volume. As described in the next article of this series, this additional volume will be used to locate the repository, a series of folders where Windows images used for deploying Windows Vista will be stored.

Step 2: Installing the Windows DS Server Role

Once you have prepared your environment for implementing Windows DS, you can go ahead and install the Windows Deployment Services server role on one or more member servers in your domain. In our scenario, we are going to install the Windows Deployment Services role on the server named SEA-WDS. There are three ways you can install the Windows Deployment Services role on a server:

Using the Add Roles Wizard

  • Using the ServerManagerCmd.exe command-line tool
  • During an unattended install
  • Let's examine each of these three methods in turn.

You can also upgrade an existing Windows Server 2003 server running the previous version of Windows DS to the Windows Server 2008 version of Windows DS.

Installing the Windows Deployment Services Role using the Add Roles Wizard

You can install the Windows Deployment Services role by using the Add Roles Wizard, which can be launched from either the Initial Configuration Tasks screen or from the Server Manager MMC console. Once the wizard has been launched, select the Windows Deployment Services role from the list of roles displayed as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2: Using the Add Roles Wizard to install the Windows Deployment Services role on a server

The next screen of the wizard offers two role services you can install:

  • Deployment Server – When installed together with the Transport Server role services, the Default Server role service provides the full Windows DS functionality of being able to use Windows DS to deploy Windows Vista onto bare metal systems over your network.  
  • Transport Server – When installed by itself, this role service offers only a subset of Windows DS functionality and can be used to build custom deployment solutions using Windows DS.

By default, both the Deployment Server and Transport Server role services are selected (Figure 3).


Figure 3: Installing the two role services for Windows DS

Finishing the wizard causes the Windows Deployment Services role with its two role services to be installed, which turns the member server into a Windows DS server which you can use for deploying Vista onto bare-metal systems.

Installing the Windows Deployment Services Role using the ServerManagerCmd.exe Command

The Windows Deployment Services role can also be installed from the command-line using the ServerManagerCmd.exe command-line tool. The following command will install the Windows Deployment Services role together with both of its two role services:

ServerManagerCmd –install WDS

If you wish to install only the Deployment Server role by itself, you can do so by using this command:

ServerManagerCmd –install WDS-Deployment

And if you wish to install only the Transport Server role by itself, you can do so by using this command:

ServerManagerCmd –install WDS-Transport

Installing the Windows Deployment Services Role during and Unattended Install

You can also install the Windows Deployment Services role as part of an unattended installation of Windows Server 2008 on a server. You can do this using the tools of the Windows AIK as described in the previous articles of this series. Specifically, using Windows System Image Manager (Windows SIM) you open the answer file you are using for your unattended install of Windows Server 2008 and perform the following steps:

  1. Add the Microsoft-Windows-Shell-Setup\FirstLogonCommands setting to the oobeSystem configuration pass of Windows Setup.
  2. Configure the above setting to run the ServerManagerCmd –install WDS command during the post-installation phase of Windows Setup.

Upgrading an existing Windows Server 2003 to the Windows Server 2008 Windows Deployment Services Role

You can also upgrade an existing Windows Server 2003 server running the previous version of Windows DS to Windows Server 2008, which will upgrade to the new version of the role. Upgrading an existing Windows Server 2003 Windows DS server is more complex however than performing a clean install of Windows Server 2008 and adding the Window DS role, particularly if your existing server itself was previously upgraded from a Remote Installation Services (RIS) server running Windows Server 2003 or Windows 2000 Server.

What makes the upgrade more complex is that in its Windows Server 2003 version Windows DS can run in one of three possible modes:

  • Legacy mode – This is functionally equivalent to RIS on Windows Server 2003. This mode only lets you deploy legacy RISETUP/RIPREP images using OSChooser  and does not support deploying WIM format images, so a Windows DS server running in this mode can only be used to deploy Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
  • Mixed mode – This mode lets you deploy both legacy RISETUP/RIPREP images using OSChooser and also newer WIM format images using Windows PE, so a Windows DS server running in this mode can be used to deploy Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
  • Native mode – This mode only lets you deploy WIM format images using Windows PE, so a Windows DS server running in this mode can only be used to deploy Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

Before you upgrade a Windows Server 2003 Windows DS server running in either legacy or mixed mode, you must change your Windows DS server so that it is running in native mode. More information about upgrading Windows DS can be found at Upgrading to Windows Server 2008.

Conclusion

This article has walked you through the first two steps of implement Windows DS: preparing your environment and installing the Windows Deployment Services role. The next article in this series looks at how to perform the initial configuration of your new Windows DS server.

If you missed the previous articles in this series, please read:

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