Monday, March 31, 2008

Microsoft Deployment (AKA BDD)

Well. I've been working with the Microsoft Deployment tool for over two months now trying to get back up to speed on how all this new deployment stuff works. I've got a ton to say on this topic so you will see frequent posts for awhile as I vent and work to document some of my findings. Let me begin with my Top Ten Things I wish they'd have written down somewhere in the documentation.

10. BDD and WDS don't play well together. Use WDS (aka RIS) to send out the Litetouch wim file and that's it. If you were planning on building images with BDD and then distributing them via WDS think again. Basically, there's a ton of power built into BDD beyond what WDS has and you really need it. Trust me.

9. Only use Out of Box drivers for nic and mass storage drivers. With Microsoft Deployment (let's just agree to call this MD now for ease) 2008, all these drivers will be gathered up and built inside your WinPE wim and ISO's automagically.

8. Mass storage drivers suck. They are a pain to deal with, but once you get it down it seems to work well. I'll post more in depth on this topic later. For now just realize that WinPE, unattend.txt and sysprep.inf will all need to be hacked to get them to work.

7. You need at least 512MB of RAM for a MD client to run and setup a box. OK this isn't a rule I read it's what I've found during testing.

6. The documentation is horrible. Read Ben Hunter's Blog, The Deployment Guys Blog, Michael Neihaus' Blog and Richard Smith's Blog if you really want to learn how it all works.

5. The database part of Litetouch is nice, but not a requirement to setup a simple deployment system. I find it overly complicates things until you understand exactly what's going on.

4. If you edit anything that's contained in WinPE (including Out of Box Drivers) or in the deployment point be sure to right click on the deployment point and rebuild it. Yes it takes awhile...smoke'em if you got'em.

3. For a client to PXE boot from the MD/WDS server make sure you've set your vlans with an IP helper pointing to the IP of the MD/WDS server. Also there's a scope option that will need to be set. More on this later.

2. ImageX grabs the files on an image only, it's not a byte by byte replica of the drive. If you are grabbing a users old hard drive to store, understand that you can't depend on any forensic recovery of deleted data from inside a wim file.

1. Don't use Out of Box drivers for all of your drivers. Create a separate share called "Drivers" and put into it a folder for each make/model of machine you have. Then create a folder structure underneath it for audio, nic, display, chipset, etc... Now edit your unattend.txt and point to that folder structure...all the inf files will be found during the build process automagically. More on this later.

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