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Using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2008 : Imaging with MDT (part 3)

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12/29/2011 6:10:28 PM

7. Creating the MDT database

To better automate image deployments, you can take advantage of the MDT database. With it, you may query for settings, roles, software assignments, and more based on computer, location, or make/model. By leveraging this database, you can dynamically provide details during a deployment that would otherwise need to be manually input through the Lite Touch Installation wizards. Alternatively, there are other methods to handle the various properties that may be specified by the database (See the section "Understanding deployment rules" later in this chapter for details). To establish a deployment database, follow these steps:

NOTE

If you do not have a SQL server already, you may install SQL Server Express Edition, which is free and available online at www.microsoft.com/sql/editions/express/default.mspx. However, if you are serious about Windows deployment, and you should be, you will install a real version of SQL Server and make this database part of your ongoing systems management infrastructure. This lets you avoid the limitations inherent in Microsoft's free database tool. You can, however, virtualize this role. For information on doing so, see Build a SQL Server Virtual Appliance at itmanagement.earthweb.com/article.php/31771_3718566_2.

  1. Choose Deployment Workbench => Deploy => Database from the tree and click the New option from the actions pane on the right to start the New DB Wizard.

  2. On the SQL Server Details page, enter the SQL Server Name and click Next. You may also optionally provide values for Instance (the name of the instance of SQL Server to be used for querying property values) and Port (if needed in your environment for connectivity to the SQL server). You may also specify if Named Pipes or TCP/IP Sockets should be used for server communications. In most environments, the SQL Server Name will be the only field that requires attention here.

  3. On the next page, Database, you can specify the name of a new database to be created (or recreated) on the server and click Next to continue. Optionally, if you have already established a database for this purpose, you may choose Use an existing database that already contains the required tables and views and choose from the list of databases retrieved by the wizard.

  4. On the SQL Share page, you can specify a SQL Share to be used by Windows PE to establish a secure connection to the server. What share specified here is not important, only that a valid share is specified which is accessible by the deployment account. Only the share name should be specified, for example: admin$.

8. Configuring the MDT database

With the database created and ready to go, the next step is to configure how it is to be used by your deployment. There are a number of options here, and which of those you choose depends greatly on your environment. This section provides a walkthrough of the steps and options available for your consideration.

  1. Choose Deployment Workbench => Deploy => Deployment Points, right-click the Image Deployment point, and choose Configure DB from the context menu to start the Configure DB Wizard.

  2. On the first page of the wizard, specify which of the computer-related queries you want to configure and click Next. Choose from the following options:

    • Query for computer-specific settings

    • Query for roles assigned to this computer

    • Query for applications to be installed on this computer

    • Query for SMS packages to be installed on this computer

    • Query for administrators to be assigned to this computer

  3. Next on the Location Options page, specify which location-related queries should be configured and click Next. Choose from the following options:

    • Query for location names based on default gateways

    • Query for location-specific settings

    • Query for roles assigned for this location

    • Query for applications to be installed for this location

    • Query for SMS packages to be installed for this location

    • Query for administrators to be assigned for this location

  4. Next on the Make/Model Options page, specify which of the make/model-related queries you wish to configure and click next. Choose from the following options:

    • Query for model-specific settings

    • Query for roles assigned to computers with this make and model

    • Query for applications to be installed on computers with this make and model

    • Query for SMS packages to be installed on computers with this make and model

    • Query for administrators to be assigned to machines with this make and model

  5. On the Role Options page, specify which role-related queries you wish to add and click Finish to complete the database configuration. Choose from the following options:

    • Query for role-specific settings

    • Query for applications to be installed for this role

    • Query for SMS packages to be installed for this role

    • Query for administrators to be assigned for this role

NOTE

For more detail on use of the MDT database, see Simple, Scalable Deployment with BDD 2007 at www.microsoft.com/technet/technetmag/issues/2007/11/ExtendingBDD/?loc=en.

9. Populating the Microsoft Management database

For the queries specified in the previous steps to succeed, you must populate the database with information about your target environment. Depending upon your needs you may populate one or more sections of the database to support your deployment. These sections are Computers, Roles, Locations, and Make and Model. Following are the basic steps of adding a computer entry. Note all follow the same interface for entry creation.

  1. Choose Deployment Workbench => Deploy => Database => Computers from the tree and click the New option from the actions pane on the right to view the property form where you may specify the details of a new computer entry in the database.

  2. For an Asset tag, enter one or more values to identify the computer. This represents the default primary method of identifying a computer on this form, so (as in all form fields that require entry) a red circle with an explanation mark inside is displayed alongside the field until it contains required data. In this case, however, you may specify any one of these key values to identify a computer (Asset tag, UUID, Serial number, or MAC address). If an invalid value is specified, the field indicator will blink until it is cleared or the value is properly updated.

    NOTE

    If using MAC address, you must use all capitals and separate each two digits with a colon to satisfy the field requirement

  3. The Details tab contains a list of the properties available for customization. Because this is something to be done for each computer added to the database, it is often desirable to enter a minimal number of unique values. For example, ComputerName is very commonly specified in this way.

  4. Click the Applications tab and then configure the applications to install and the order of the application installations.

  5. Click the Packages tab, and then configure the packages to install and the order of the package installations.

  6. Click the Roles tab and then configure the roles to associate with the computer.

  7. Click the Administrators tab, configure the accounts to be made members of the local Administrator group on the target computers, and then click OK.

NOTE

A script for the bulk importation of computer entries based on the contents of a CSV file is provided online at http://blogs.technet.com/benhunter/archive/2007/08/05/bdd2007-bulk-database-loads.aspx.

10. Understanding deployment rules

In addition to the database method above, you can use other options to leverage the ability to define properties such as the computer name or the local administrator password. To specify general deployment options there are other options that should be understood. Depending on your environment or on the item to be defined, one or more of these other methods may be desirable.

NOTE

There are a number of standard properties available for customization, and each is documented in the Toolkit Reference.doc file included in the Deployment Process documentation. It should also be noted that you can define your own custom properties if a standard property is not found that meets your needs.

In addition to the database method described in the previous section, there are a few other ways you can assign values:

  • Hard-coded values

  • Variable substitution

  • Script functions

  • Dynamic keys

NOTE

The values are collected by a script which gets standard properties from its definition file (ZTIGather.xml). It then uses the CustomSettings.ini file to determine what custom properties it should use as well as the actual values for all of the properties required by the deployment.

Each of these methods is discussed briefly in the following section.

Using hard-coded values

One of the simplest ways to specify values is to use hard-coded values in the CustomSettings.ini file. For example, you could statically define the time zone (TimeZone) to the desired time zone offset:

TimeZone=005

Using variable substitution

Similar to the method above, you can also include variables to make hard-coded values more dynamic. For example, you could statically define your logging share (SLShare) to point to the "LOGS" folder on a currently connected SCCM deployment point:

SLShare=\\%SMSDP%\Logs

Using script functions

Rules can call script functions as well. A script known as the user exit script serves as a function library. You may create your own script functions to return desired values and then place them in a user exit script. These custom scripts have full access to the global variables and can leverage them in the creation of dynamic values. By placing the script in the same directory as the customsettings. ini file, you can then reference these functions with it by typing the function call along with any desired parameters within pound symbols. For example, you may want to assign the ComputerName based on information gathered from the Asset Tag. To do so you would first create your UserExit script, and then reference it in the CustomSettings.ini file as shown.

Example UserExit Script:

Function UserExit(sType, sWhen, sDetail, bSkip)
UserExit = Successfs
End Function
Function MakeName(sAssetTag)

Set wmiRoot = GetObject("WinMgmts:root/cimv2")
Set wmiColl = wmiRoot.ExecQuery("Select * FROM Win32_ComputerSystem")
For Each wmiObj In wmiColl
sMan = wmiObj.Manufacturer
Next
Select Case sMan
Case "Dell Inc."
sManCode = "D"
Case "Compaq"
sManCode = "C"
Case "HP"
sManCode = "H"
Case Else
sManCode = "U" ' unknown
End Select
MakeName = sManCode & "-" & sAssetTag
End Function

The preceding MakeName function is intended to determine the computer's manufacturer and then use a single character identifier and the asset tag passed to the function to return a name meeting the organization's desired naming convention. In order to make use of this, the above would be saved as UserExit.vbs and then placed in the same folder as the CustomSettings.ini file. The CustomSettings.ini file would finally need to be updated to reference the script and function as shown in the following example:

Example CustomSettings.ini Segment:

ComputerName=#MakeName("%AssetTag%")#
UserExit=UserExit.vbs

Using dynamic keys

Rules can also be selected based on the value of dynamic keys. The following example will return the computer name "LabSystem01" if the MAC Address is "00:03:FF:39:CC:67".

[Settings]
Priority=MACAddress,...

[00:03:FF:39:CC:67]
ComputerName=" LabSystem01"

In the example above, the settings section leads with Priority which can list multiple methods for identifying a system in order of how they should be used. Many other values would also be listed in the setting section of CustomSettings.ini, but it is simplified here for clarity. The second section is actually that of a valid MAC address on the network. The values in this section are used when the computer's MAC address matches that of the section name (00:03:FF:39:CC:67).

11. Configuring LTI deployment for full automation

Even specifying many of these values for the setup, the wizard dialogs will still be displayed by default. The good news is that you have very granular control over what elements of the wizard are displayed by adding properties to the CustomSettings.ini file. In fact, the SkipWizard property results in suppression of the entire Windows Deployment Wizard. To skip individual pages, the following properties are available:

  • SkipAdminPassword

  • SkipApplications

  • SkipAppsOnUpgrade

  • SkipBDDWelcome

  • SkipBitLocker

  • SkipBitLockerDetails

  • SkipBuild

  • SkipCapture

  • SkipComputerBackup

  • SkipComputerName

  • SkipDeploymentType

  • SkipDomainMembership

  • SkipFinalSummary

  • SkipLocaleSelection

  • SkipPackageDisplay

  • SkipProductKey

  • SkipSummary

  • SkipTimeZone

  • SkipUserData

Although the names of most properties are self-explanatory, just what is available requires a bit of searching the Toolkit Reference.doc file, which is included in the Deployment Process documentation. Here, each of the available properties is documented in some detail.

When you update your deployment, such as making changes to the CustomSettings.ini file, it is necessary to right-click the update deployment point and choose Update to commit the changes. At this point you will also want to update your LTI media (ISO file, CD, USB device, and so on).


12. Deploying the custom image

Now you can deploy your image. The steps are nearly identical to that of when you prepared your reference system for imaging, but this time you are dealing with a production deployment. For testing you can stick with a virtual machine, or you can apply the LiteTouchPE.iso image to a CD or portable USB memory drive in order to use this same procedure in the deployment of physical systems. Just be sure to update the deployment point and use the updated version of the LiteTouchPE.iso file moving forward.

  1. Choose Deployment Workbench => Deploy => Deployment Points, right-click the deployment you have been working with, and choose Update to re-create the file structure and support file.

  2. Copy the LiteTouchPE_x86.iso image from the deployment point's distribution share to your local computer (for example, \\server\distribution$\Boot\ LiteTouchPE_x86.iso).

  3. Configure your virtual machine to boot from this ISO file by mounting it as a CD image. Alternatively, you could burn the ISO image to a CD.

  4. Boot the virtual machine from the mounted ISO image. Alternatively, if you burned the ISO to a CD you may boot from it in order to load the Lite Touch image. Depending on how you have customized the deployment values and what wizard pages you have suppressed, the Windows Deployment Wizard will prompt for the values as specified.

Other -----------------
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- 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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