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Using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008 : Imaging with MDT (part 1)

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With everything installed and ready to go, it is time to put the workbench to work. Because the most common use of MDT is establishing and configuring LTI deployment, this section focuses on LTI development and deployment. Follow these steps:
  1. Create the task sequences that will automate the development of a baseline image.

  2. Establish a distribution point from which to deploy the installation.

  3. Take a time out to investigate the options provided by the task sequencer.

  4. Create a deployment point for handling the deployment of our reference system. At this stage, you will be ready to prepare a reference computer.

  5. With the reference computer established, you can then add the custom image to the distribution share.

  6. After the custom image has been added, you can create a deployment build for it.

  7. To realize the full power of MDT, you also need to create and configure a deployment database. After it is ready, you will need to populate it with data.

  8. Take time to understand the deployment rules and how they may be leveraged.

  9. Apply a level of customization to better automate an LTI image.

  10. Deploy the custom image to test the deployment process.

The key functionality of the Deployment Workbench is its Task Sequencer. Start by creating task sequences to automate the creation of the baseline image.

1. Creating task sequences

With a focus on the deployment of Vista, the first thing you need is to establish a build. A build is made up of several components including source files, configuration settings, and the installation process (task sequence) which defines how to create an image.

It should be the goal of any administrator to automate the build process as much as possible. Consistent reproducibility is crucial in controlling your baseline configuration as changes, updates, and new hardware are introduced to your network in the future.

Before you begin creating task sequences it is important to establish a naming scheme to use for task sequence IDs. While task sequence names can be modified later, these task sequence IDs cannot. An example would be to use the version of Windows, the edition, the service pack, and a descriptive label to identify the customizations. Before you are carried away, know that there is a 16-character limit to the task sequence ID value. This information pertains to a full build and not to an individual task so you may have only a limited number of such configurations. Table 1 provides some sample task settings to use as a guide, including one that specifies a "configuration set." The concept here would be that you may have multiple ways you wish to create a build of the same Vista edition and service pack level. In this case, you name the configuration in your build documentation and reflect it in the task sequence ID by letter or numeral.

Table 1. Descriptive Task Setting Properties
Task Sequence IDTask Sequence NameTask Sequence Comments
WinVistaBusSP0Windows Vista BusinessWindows Vista Business Edition with no service pack
WinVistaEntSP1Windows Vista Enterprise SP1Windows Vista Enterprise Edition with Service Pack 1
WinVistaUltSP1-aWindows Vista Ultimate SP1 with Configuration Set AWindows Vista Ultimate Edition with Service Pack 1 and a set of customizations documented and titled as configuration "Set A."

The Task Sequencer is the tool to create, manage, and execute this build automation. To create a task, follow this procedure:

  1. Choose Deployment Workbench => Task Sequences and click the New option from the actions pane on the right.

  2. On the General Settings page, enter the Task Sequence ID, Task sequence name, and Task sequence comments as described previously. Click the Next button to continue.

  3. On the Select Template page, you may choose to select one of the four default templates, including:

    • Standard Client Task Sequence may be used to specify a default task sequence for deploying operating system images to client computers.

    • Standard Client Replace Task Sequence may be used to back up an entire system, its user state, and then wipe the disk.

    • Custom Task Sequence may be used to establish a blank task sequence which you can customize from scratch.

    • Standard Server Task Sequence may be used to create a default task sequence for the deployment of system images to server computers.

    For the purpose of establishing a Windows Vista build task, choose Standard Client Task Sequence. Press the Next button to continue.

  4. On the Select OS page, choose the operating system image to be installed with this task and press the Next button to proceed.

  5. On the Specify Product Key page, you may choose to provide a product key (or not) and click the Next button to continue. Normally, you would want to enter this to create an automated installation process, but with no volume license key available, you may not need to not use a product key when installing. This will prompt the user for the key (in a LTI scenario) or you can make use of a Key Management Service. There are actually a few ways to go about handling the distribution of product keys including using the BDD database capabilities to automate the process. For more details visit: http://blogs.technet.com/mniehaus/archive/2007/08/10/can-i-deploy-windows-vista-ultimate-with-bdd-2007.aspx.

  6. On the OS Settings page, you may enter the Full Name, Organization, and Internet Explorer Home Page; then click Next to continue. Each of these values is required, but may be overridden during deployment using a wizard or rule.

  7. On the Admin Password page, you can specify an Administrative password for the build. The local administrator password is also specified in a task sequence so you may choose: Do not specify an Administrator password at this time. Furthermore, while protected to some degree, any password specified is written into the unattend.xml file, which may not be secure against someone wishing to reverse the process used to obfuscate the password in this file.

  8. Click Finish to complete the process.

2. Investigating Task Sequencer options

The Task Sequencer is a standalone task sequencer derived from System Center Configuration Manager 2007. To better understand the full capabilities offered by this powerful tool, we recommend that you browse the following options:

  1. Choose Deployment Workbench => Task Sequences, right-click the task sequences created previously, and choose Properties.

  2. Next, click the Task Sequence tab.

  3. Explore the options available by pressing on the Add button in the toolbar and reviewing the options in each of the task groups listed (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Exploring the actions available in the Task Sequencer

NOTE

This example is based on an x86 deployment. For a deployment of an x64 operating system, replace all of the x86 entries with amd64.

3. Creating a deployment point

With the deployment task established, the next step is to create a deployment point from which it may be distributed. In this case, you are not performing a live distribution, but are instead automating the installation of a reference system which will be used to create our deployment image. Do so by following these steps:

  1. Choose Deployment Workbench => Deploy => Deployment Points and click the New option from the actions pane on the right.

  2. On the Choose Type page, select the default Lab or single-server deployment option and then click Next.

  3. On the Specify Deployment Point Name page, enter Image Creation for Deployment point name and click Next.

  4. On the Application List page, you may choose to allow users to select additional applications when upgrading. In this case, you are provided with a menu of applications to include in your baseline image. Select the option and click the Next button to continue.

  5. On the Allow Image Capture page, leave the Ask if an image should be captured option selected and click Next.

  6. On the Allow Admin Password page, you may select the Ask user to set the local Administrator Password option, but because you will likely wish to specify this when deploying the image, the setting is inconsequential and should only be selected if needed. Click Next.

  7. On the Allow Product Key page, you may select the option titled, Ask user for a product key. Click Next. As with the previous setting, you may leave this deselected because the image creation process will provide the ability to override what is specified here.

  8. On the Network Share page, you can change the default share name; then click Next. In most cases, the default "Distribution$" share name will be fine, but you may specify an alternate name if you wish.

  9. On the Configure User State, you can specify user data defaults. In this case, you are not going to migrate any user data so you may choose the Do not save data and settings option and click the Finish button to complete the creation of the deployment point. However, if you were to use this in a live deployment scenario the other options available are:

    • Automatically determine the location on the network. This instructs the deployment process to browse the local network to determine the location for storing the user-state data.

    • Automatically determine the location on the Local System. This instructs the deployment process to browse the local system to determine the location for storing the user-state data.

    • Specify a location. This option lets you dictate manually to specify the location to save user-state data.

  10. If further customization is necessary, right-click the new listing titled Image Creation and choose Properties.

  11. On the Windows PE tab ensure the Generate a Lite Touch bootable RAM disk ISO image option is selected in the Images to Generate section at the top left of the window and click OK to proceed.

  12. In Deployment Workbench => Deploy => Deployment Points right-click the newly created Image Creation deployment point and choose Update to create the file structure that represents this newly created deployment point.

Other -----------------
- Using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008 : Installing and Configuring MDT
- Introducing the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (part 2) - Getting familiar with the tools of MDT
- Introducing the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (part 1) - Going over documentation
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