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Deploying with Windows DS : Planning for Windows DS

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1/9/2012 4:11:20 PM
Windows DS doesn’t have significant requirements for the system on which you install it, but you need to put some thought into which services and applications must exist in your environment to support Windows DS, including the actual server requirements, client computer requirements, and network requirements.

Windows DS supports booting computers directly from a boot image over the network. This image boots using the PXE boot specification and needs to be able to receive broadcast messages from PXE clients. This will require some planning to make sure clients will be able to find and communicate with the Windows DS server. As a result, you must consider the Windows DS requirements for DHCP and routing. This section discusses requirements you need to consider for Windows DS.

Server Requirements

The hardware requirements for running Windows Server 2003 or Windows Server Code Name “Longhorn” are sufficient to support most Windows DS installations. If you are supporting a large number of images or if you are expecting greater than normal client load, investigate adding additional memory for performance and additional hard drive space for image storage.

The following list describes the software and service requirements for installing and using Windows DS:

  • Active Directory A Windows DS server must be either a member of an Active Directory domain or a domain controller (DC) for an Active Directory domain. Active Directory is used by Windows DS to track Windows DS clients and Windows DS servers. In addition, systems can be preconfigured in Active Directory, instructing Windows DS on how to image them.

  • Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) You must have a working DHCP server with an active scope on the network because Windows DS uses PXE, which in turn uses DHCP. The DHCP server does not have to be on the Windows DS server. The type of DHCP server is not critical for Windows DS to function properly.

  • Domain Name System (DNS) A working DNS server on the network is required to run Windows DS. The DNS server does not have to be running on the Windows DS server. DNS is used to locate Active Directory domain controllers and Windows DS servers.

  • Installation media Windows Vista media or a network location that contains the contents of the media is required to install Windows DS.

  • An NTFS partition on the Windows DS server The server running Windows DS requires an NTFS partition for the image store. You should not create the image store on the partition containing the operating system files, so an additional partition is necessary.

  • Service Pack 1 and RIS installed (Windows Server 2003 only) If you’re installing Windows DS on a server running Windows Server 2003, you must install RIS for the Windows DS update package to be run. Windows DS also requires at least Service Pack 1.

Note

Installing and administering Windows DS requires the administrator to be a member of the local Administrators group on the Windows DS server.


Client Requirements

The client requirements to support installation using Windows DS will vary based on how you intend to use Windows DS. The following list outlines the requirements for PXE booting to Windows DS and installing images:

  • Hardware requirements The Windows DS client must meet the minimum hardware requirements of the operating system you’re installing. The Windows DS client must also have enough memory to run Windows PE, because Windows DS uses Windows PE to start the client computer.

  • PXE DHCP-based boot ROM version .99 or later network adapter To boot directly from the Windows DS server, the computer’s network adapter must contain a PXE boot ROM. If this is not the case, the client can be booted using a DVD boot disk, a Windows PE boot image copied to the computer’s hard disk, or USB Flash Drive (UFD).

    All computers meeting the NetPC or PC 98 specifications should have the ability to boot from the network adapter. Investigate the BIOS settings of the destination computer to determine if you can enable a Boot From Network option. When the option is enabled, the computer should briefly display an option to press F12 to boot from the network during each startup.

  • Network access to the Windows DS server The client must have broadcast access to the Windows DS server to enable PXE booting. Windows PE boot disks can allow you to boot to Windows PE using Windows DS as an image store without broadcast access.

Note

The account performing the installation must be a member of the Domain Users Active Directory security group. Domain Users have permission to join computers to the domain.


DHCP Requirements

Windows DS will configure accessible DHCP servers during installation, adding required scope options to the DHCP scopes. It may be necessary under some circumstances to modify DHCP servers manually to support advanced Windows DS scenarios. The following list describes how to manage DHCP scope modifications:

  • Microsoft DHCP and Windows DS on the same server When Windows DS is installed on the same physical server as the DHCP service, the Windows DS PXE server and the DHCP server will both attempt to listen on port 67 for DHCP requests. To prevent this, the Windows DS PXE server must be configured to not listen on this port. (See Figure 1.) You must add DHCP option tag 60, set to the string “PXEClient” to all active DHCP scopes. This allows booting PXE clients to learn about the presence of the Windows DS PXE Server from the DHCP response generated by the DHCP server.

    Figure 1. Configuring DHCP options in Windows DS.

  • Microsoft DHCP and Windows DS on separate servers When Windows DS and Microsoft DHCP exist on different servers, no additional settings are required. Both servers respond to DHCP requests: The DHCP server responds with an IP address offer; the Windows DS PXE server responds with the PXE boot information.

  • Thirdparty DHCP and Windows DS No additional action should be required for Windows DS to coexist with third-party DHCP servers. The Windows DS PXE server will respond with boot file location information only, allowing DHCP to service the IP address request.

Note

RIS required the RIS server to be activated as a DHCP server in Active Directory. This is not required to operate Windows DS.


Routing Requirements

When DHCP and Windows DS are located on different subnets, or if clients are located on a different subnet than the Windows DS server, IP Helpers must be configured on network routers to enable forwarding of DHCP and PXE boot requests to the appropriate servers. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Windows DS on multiple subnets.


Note

An alternative to enabling IP Helpers on your routers is to install a DHCP relay agent on the remote network, configuring appropriate scope options to allow the remote clients to locate the Windows DS server.


Capacity Requirements

Windows DS servers can generate a lot of network traffic when servicing multiple, simultaneous client requests. Plan for this network load by designing your deployment network for sufficient capacity. You can deploy multiple Windows DS servers in environments that experience significant installation activity. You can allocate access to Windows DS services by using DHCP scopes and IP subnetting. You can also configure IP Helper tables to direct clients to one or another Windows DS server based on client network ID.

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