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System Center Configuration Manager 2007 : Operating System Deployment - Site Systems

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1/23/2013 4:39:47 PM

Aside from a DP and the ever-present MP, there are also two optional site system roles used by OSD: a PXE service point and a state migration point. DPs serve the same role for OSD that they do in software distribution: to deliver software packages to client systems and are required for OSD to work properly. 

The next sections discuss the use of these site systems with OSD.

Distribution Points

Distribution points provide clients with all packages defined for use in ConfigMgr. This includes packages specific to OSD including drivers, applications, images, and operating system installs. These packages must be made available on distribution points just like any software distribution package.

Utilizing Multicasting

Multicasting is a new feature provided by Windows Deployment Services (WDS) in Windows Server 2008; ConfigMgr 2007 Release 2 (R2) can take advantage of multicasting if the DP is installed on a Windows Server 2008 system with the WDS role also installed. Multicasting enables transporting a single stream of data over a network. Clients can then subscribe to this stream of data. The main advantage of multicasting over the traditional unicast model is this single stream of data for multiple destination systems. Unicast communication requires a separate stream of data for every client system.

In addition to WDS, you must install Internet Information Services (IIS) on the site system, including Internet Server Application Program Interface (ISAPI) extensions and IIS 6 management compatibility.

A downside for many multicast implementations for image deployment is that you must manually coordinate the start of the data stream. All client systems that you want to receive the stream must be waiting for the stream prior to it being sent. With WDS multicasting in Windows Server 2008, Microsoft implemented a catch-up feature. This enables clients that join a stream midway through to continue to receive the entire stream. WDS tracks when clients join the image stream and replays the stream until all clients subscribed to the stream have received the entire image.

Multicasting is used only for image deployment in OSD; it is not used for any type of package delivery including driver, application, or operating system install. If you plan to use multicasting heavily, this might affect the decisions you make about what to put into the actual image. It might make more sense to make the image fatter to improve distribution times by using multicasting.

Installing Multicasting

To enable and configure multicasting, perform the following steps:

1.
Install ConfigMgr 2007 R2.

2.
In the ConfigMgr console, navigate to Site Management -> <Site Code> <Site Name> -> Site Systems -> <Site System> where <Site System> is the name of the system with a distribution point installed.

3.
In the results pane, right-click the ConfigMgr distribution point; then select Properties. The ConfigMgr distribution point Properties dialog box opens.

4.
Click the Multicast tab (shown in Figure 1), and select the Enable multicast check box. You can configure the following from this tab:

  • Specify the account to connect to the database— As the text implies, you can specify an alternate account to use to connect to the site database if the Local System account cannot be used.

  • Multicast Address— This allows you to specify a specific multicast address according to Request for Comment (RFC) 3171 (http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3171.txt) or obtain one from a DHCP server.

  • UDP Port Range— Specify which User Datagram Protocol (UDP) ports to use for multicasting.

  • Enable scheduled multicast— Scheduled multicast configures a multicast session to wait for a specific number of clients to join a session or a number of minutes to wait before starting a session. This allows you to coordinate the client systems and ensure they are all online and available before the session starts. The use of the catch-up feature described in the “Utilizing Multicasting” section reduces the importance of this functionality, but it is still available.

  • Transfer rate— This setting optimizes the performance of the multicast data stream for the selected network type.

  • Maximum clients— This caps the number of clients that this distribution point serves using multicast. This number is cumulative across all multicast sessions.

    Figure 1. Multicast Properties

PXE Service Point

PXE service points enable the distribution of OSD boot images to clients via PXE. PXE service points are actually dependent on an installation of WDS; a PXE service point essentially just takes over control of WDS. You can install WDS on Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 only, and it does not need to be collocated with any other site roles. WDS in Windows Server 2008 adds the ability to multicast images over a network enabled for multicast.

  • To install WDS in Windows Server 2003, use Add/Remove Windows Components from the Add/Remove Programs applet in the Control Panel—WDS is listed near the bottom. WDS in Windows Server 2003 actually has multiple modes to support legacy Remote Installation Service (RIS) images; ensure you install WDS in mixed or native mode to support WIM based images.

  • To install WDS in Windows Server 2008, use the Add Roles functionality of Server Manager. WDS is typically the last listed role and offers two subservices: Deployment Server and Transport Server. You should select both of these.

You do not need to configure WDS in any way after installing it. ConfigMgr seizes control over WDS after you install the PXE Service Point. If you do configure WDS, conflicts often arise and cause you endless hours of troubleshooting.

Multiple PXE Providers on the Same Network Subnet

A question often fielded by ConfigMgr OSD implementers is how an organization can have multiple PXE providers on the same network subnet. Usually, the client organization already has a PXE server in place to support a legacy imaging product. The real answer to this question is that it depends on the network infrastructure, not on ConfigMgr.

PXE is a standards-based protocol based on DHCP and network broadcasts. The network card installed on a system controls the actual booting of a system; this is completely independent of ConfigMgr. Generally, the first PXE provider to respond to a PXE request is chosen by the network card being booted from. On a network level, it is best to segregate PXE providers on separate subnets to control the broadcasts.

It is also possible to specify a specific PXE server using DHCP options 60, 66, and 67; however, these options are specific to a single network subnet and cannot be made more granular for PXE booting purposes. There are other options including a newer PXE specification, but this problem is completely outside the bounds of ConfigMgr and WDS.

Two excellent resources for detailed PXE information are at http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc732351.aspx and http://support.microsoft.com/kb/244036. The second reference is a dated KB article referring to RIS, but the general PXE information is still valid.


Adding a PXE Service Point role to a site system is similar to adding any ConfigMgr role to any other site system. Perform the following steps:

1.
In the ConfigMgr console, start by navigating to Site Database -> Site Management -> <Site Code> <Site Name> -> Site Settings -> Site Systems.

  • If the system running WDS is not currently a site system, right-click Site Systems; then choose New -> Server. This launches the New Site System Server Wizard. Enter the name of the site system and the intranet accessible fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of the WDS server.

  • If the WDS server already is a ConfigMgr site system, right-click the server and choose New Roles. This launches the New Site Role Wizard which looks and acts exactly like the New Site System Server Wizard, except that the wizard has already filled in the site system name and intranet FQDN for you.

2.
On the System Role Selection page, choose PXE service point.

3.
Note the information given in the PXE Service Point Configuration dialog box, as shown in Figure 2, and click Yes.

Figure 2. The PXE Service Point Configuration dialog box


4.
On the PXE – General wizard page, you have the following choices:

  • Allow this PXE service point to respond to incoming PXE requests— This first check box does exactly what it says, enables or disables PXE booting.

  • Enable unknown computer support— This option only exists if you have installed ConfigMgr 2007 R2. It enables exactly what the name implies.

  • Require a password for computer to boot to PXE— This check box requires entering a password during the PXE boot process on the client. If enabled, you must also enter a password.

  • Interfaces— On a multihomed system, this section allows you to limit which interfaces listen for PXE boot requests.

  • Specify the PXE server response delay— This setting determines how long to wait before responding to PXE boot requests. The setting might help in situations where multiple PXE servers exist on the same subnet.

5.
On the PXE – Database wizard page, you can choose an alternate account to use to connect to the site database and a certificate to provide mutual authentication during the OSD process. If your ConfigMgr site is not in native mode, the wizard automatically generates a self-signed certificate. If in native mode, you must supply a single certificate that all PXE booted clients can use.

To review or change any of these settings after you install the PXE Service Point, navigate to Site Management -> <Site Code> <Site Name> -> Site Systems -> <Site System> in the ConfigMgr console, right-click ConfigMgr PXE service point in the right pane, and choose Properties.

PXE service points also become pseudo distribution points, listed alongside all other distribution points when copying packages. You can tell the difference between standard DPs and PXE service points by the addition of “\SMSPXEIMAGES$” to the name of the PXE service point as listed in distribution point selection list boxes. You should distribute boot images to PXE service points only because this is the only type of image provided by PXE service points with ConfigMgr OSD.

Tip: Make 32-Bit and 64-Bit Images Available

You should make both a 32-bit and 64-bit boot image available from the PXE distribution point. This enables WDS to deliver boot images to systems with either architecture. The properties of a task sequence determine the actual boot image regardless of the physical architecture of the target system; however, if the target system is a 64-bit system and a 64-bit boot image is not available, the PXE boot will not succeed.


State Migration Point

The other optional site system role is the state migration point. These site systems store user state data captured from a system. 

State migration points are simply shared folders on a designated site system. Multiple state migration points are allowed in a site to provide some load balancing and better availability based on connectivity. 

Adding a state migration point to a site system is similar to adding any ConfigMgr role to any other site system. Perform the following steps:

1.
In the ConfigMgr console, start by navigating to Site Database -> Site Management -> <Site Code> <Site Name> -> Site Settings -> Site Systems.

  • If the system is not currently a site system, right-click Site Systems; then choose New -> Server. This launches the New Site System Server Wizard. Enter the name of the site system and the intranet accessible FQDN of the server.

  • If the system already is a ConfigMgr site system, right-click the system and choose New Roles. This launches the New Site Role Wizard, which looks and acts exactly like the New Site System Server Wizard, except that the wizard has already filled in the site system name and intranet FQDN for you.

2.
On the System Role Selection page, choose State migration point.

3.
On the State Migration Point Wizard page, you have the following choices:

  • Folders— This list box allows you to designate specific folders on the site system to use. You must specify a specific local path, the maximum number of clients to serve, and the minimum amount of free space on the drive hosting the folder to consider the state migration point healthy.

  • Deletion policy— In this section you specify how long to save user state on a state migration point after it is restored.

  • Restore-only mode— This mode prevents this state migration point accepting new user state but allows retrieval of previously saved user state data.

To review or change any of these settings after you install the state migration point, navigate to Site Management -> <Site Code> <Site Name> -> Site Systems -> <Site System> in the ConfigMgr console, right-click ConfigMgr state migration point in the right pane, and choose Properties.

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