Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Installation and Configuration of WDS on Server 2008 R2


Windows Deployment Services is a technology used to deploy Windows operating systems through a network. It is one the most convenient way to install an operating system in a corporate environment. The RIS (Remote Installation Service) is the forerunner of Windows deployment service (WDS ). WDS can be used to deploy Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows server 2008 operating system. There are two installation methods in WDS
  1. Attended installation - Installation that is performed by user interaction during its progress.
  2. Unattended installation - Installation that is performed without user interaction during its progress or with no user present at all.
In this tutorial we are going to see:
1. Step-by-step configuration of Windows Deployment Service in Server 2008 R2

2. Creating an Unattended XML file using AIK

3.Creating a Customized Image of Windows 7

Task 1 : Step-by-step configuration of Windows Deployment Service in Server 2008R2

Open the server manager in Server2008 R2 and click Roles > Add Roles.

1. Select the Windows Deployment Service check box and click next.

2. You will get a WDS overview screen, read it out and click next.

3. You will be prompted to select the role services. As of now select both deployment server and Transport server. I will explain the functionality of the transport server latter. Click next.

4. You will get a confirmation screen, click Install.

5. The WDS installation will finish within a few minutes.

6. You will get a confirmation page after the successful installation. Click close.

Now you can see the WDS management console in All programs > Administrative tools. Open up WDS management console.
7. When you open the console you will be notified that the WDS Server is not yet configured. Now we have to configure the server by going to the Action tab>Configure server.

8. You will get a welcome page, verify the prerequisites and click next.

9. Choose a folder to store all the configuration details of WDS. It will be much better if you can choose a drive other than the system volume.

10. WDS server configuration is completed. Click finish.

11.Now you can upload install image and boot images for remote deployment.

In our scenario I am going to add an image of windows 7. For this we need an installation disc of Windows 7. Insert the disc in your PC, explore it and search for the Source folder. Inside the Source folder you will see 'boot.wim' and 'install.wim' file. Copy these two files and paste it in a local drive of your WDS server.

12. Right click the 'Boot Images' tab and click 'Add Boot Image' > Browse for the 'boot.wim' file which is stored in your local drive and click next.

13.You can give the name and description of the image you are uploading.

14. The boot image will be displayed as below after the upload.

15. Add Install image by right clicking 'Install Images' and 'Add Install Image'. Browse for the 'install.wim' file and upload it to the server. After you upload an image you can see the image library as like below:

16. The WDS server configuration is almost completed with the above step. Now we can fine tune the WDS services by right clicking the Server and going to the 'Properties' tab. Below you can see so many options in the server properties. But I am going to explain only about the unattended installation as it is one of the important feature of WDS

Unattended Installation

Unattended installation will help you to install the OS without any human intervention. The installation setup will run automatically by reffering the answer file that you have created.
1. Switch on to the client tab and tick the check box “Enable unattended installation” and browse for the unattended xml file. The unattended answer file should be saved in your server's 'LocalDrive:\RemoteInstall\WdsClientUnattend' folder, which is created automatically once you install the WDS on your server 2008. I will explain how to create an unattended xml file later in this tutorial.

2. Then go the image properties by right clicking the install image and tick the check box as shown below. Here you need to select a unattended.xml file which is stored on your local drive on your server.

Task 2 : Creating an Unattended XML file

To create an unattended xml file you can use the Windows AIK Tool kit or you can write your own xml file. Here I am using the Windows AIK Toolkit to accomplish the task.

Download the Windows Automated Installation Kit from Microsoft website ( and install it on your computer. You can download the software for free of cost from the Microsoft website.

After the installation you can see the 'Windows System Image Manager' in All programs > Microsoft windows AIK > Windows System Image Manager.

Open it and click 'Create an answer file' You will be prompted to select a Windows 7 image ('install.wim' file) and follow the instructions. Refer the screen shot below.

After the image upload you will get a screen as below, where you can edit all the settings that you wanted to add to your answer file.

In our scenario I am adding some settings like disk partition, automatically join the domain, IE home page etc in the answer file. Refer the following screen shots where you can find some of those settings.

Once you finish adding all required settings in your answer file go to 'File > Save Answer file as' and save it with the name 'Autounattended.xml' and upload it to your WDS server. Below you can find the screenshot of an answer file that I have created. Also you can the check the following links for sample answer files: 

Now you can boot the computer from the network and test the Windows Deployment Services. While you boot a computer from the network make sure that the PXE boot & LAN boot is enabled in the BIOS. If you enable unattended installation then the OS installation will start automatically with the PXE boot.

Task 3. Creating a Customized Image of Windows 7

While you install an operating system using WDS it is better to deploy a customized image of your OS. That will reduce the pain of installing the necessary softwares in each system after deployment.Here I am going to explain the steps to create a customized image of windows 7 using sysprep and imageX tool.

For creating the customized image we need to have the below tools with us:

>Windows AIK
>Technician computer
>Reference Computer (Which is installed with all the necessary softwares)

1. Set up a Windows PE build environment

  • Install AIK on the technician computer
  • On the technician computer, click start, point to all programs,point to windows AIK, right-click Deployment Tools Command Prompt, and then select run as administrator.Then type the command as follows: copype.cmd x86 d:\winpe_x86
  • Copy the base image (Winpe.wim) to the \Winpe_x8r\ISO\sources folder and rename the file to Boot.wim. Type the command as follows:
    copy D:\winpe_x86\winpe.wim D:\winpe_x86\ISO\sources\boot.wim
  • Add imagex.exe to the winpe_x86\iso folder. Type the command as follows:
    copy "C:\Program Files\Windows AIK\Tools\x86\imagex.exe" D:\winpe_x
  • Create an ISO Image of Install.wim File : oscdimg -n -bD:\winpe_x86\ D:\winpe_x86\ISO D:\winpe_x86\winpe_x86.iso
  • Burn the ISO image to a disc and label it as Windows PE boot image.

2. Create the Image of the reference computer:

  • Now you have to go to the reference computer which is installed with all the necessary applications and run the sysprep. You can open up a command prompt and type the command as below:
    c:\windows\system32\sysprep\sysprep.exe /oobe /generalize /shutdown
  • After running the command the computer will shutdown automatically.
  • Now boot the reference computer from the Windows PE boot image disc that we have already created.
  • As as the computer boots you will get a command prompt. Move to the drive where the disc got mounted. Type the command as follows : imagex /capture C: C:\Install.wim“Win 7 x86 Proffessional” /VERIFY
  • Reboot the computer and check the C drive where you will find the Install.wim file.This is the image of your reference computer. Upload the Image to the WDS server and deploy.

I strongly recommend you  to check the logs by going to the Event Viewer before you begin troubleshooting.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these helpful chapter with us regarding windows development. I got a lot of knowledge from this article. Keep posting like this useful information