Free system imaging solution ? Server 2008 Windows Deployment Services (WDS)?

Server 2008 Windows Deployment Services (WDS) replaces Remote
Installation Services (RIS) offered in Windows Server 2003 and 2000. WDS use PXE and TFTP to boot from WDS server.

The main difference between Windows Deployment Services (WDS) and other imaging solutions like Ghost is that WDS uses file-based imaging format where others use sector based. WIM format uses single instance store which files are stored only once and referenced multiple times. As result, images are a lot smaller.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) supported OSes:
- Windows XP
- Windows Server 2003
- Windows Vista
- Windows Server 2008

 

How to install and configure Server 2008 Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Server 2008 Windows Deployment Services (WDS) prerequisites

- WDS server must be a member server of an Active Directory domain
- DHCP must be configured for PXE boot to work
- DNS, you will mostly have this.
- OS media
- NTFS partition on the WDS server
- Server 2008

To install Windows Deployment Services (WDS) on Server 2008

open server manager > Click on Add Roles link > click Next > on the Select Server Roles screen, select Windows Deployment Services, and
then click Next.

On the Role Services screen, verify that Deployment Server and Transport
Server are checked; then click Next, then click Install

Start > Administrative Tools > Windows Deployment Services to access
the Windows Deployment Services Management console.
Choose the path to where images will stored.
Configure PXE Server settings, choose “Respond to all”, and Click finish.

Add a Boot Image to WDS Server

Boot image is the image file used during pre-installation OS, also known as boot OS and delivered via PXE boot.

1. Start > Administrative Tools > Windows Deployment Services to access
the Windows Deployment Services Management console
2. Right click the Boot Images node. Then click Add Boot Image
3. Click Browse to locate the boot image you wish to add. (Use the Boot.wim from the Windows Server 2008 installation DVD)
4. Once completed, you should be able to see this image you when perform a PXE boot.


Create a Capture Boot Image

Capture Boot Image is a boot image used when capturing images. You will use capture image to boot a server/client to capture its image into a .wim file. You can create a capture boot image by using the Boot.wim from the Windows Server 2008 installation DVD.

1. Start > Administrative Tools > Windows Deployment Services to access
the Windows Deployment Services Management console.
2. expand the Boot Images node
3. Right click the image you added earlier (See step 2 from Add a Boot Image to WDS Server)
4. Click Create Capture Boot Image
5. Once completed, click Finish.
6. Right click on boot image folder, choose "Add Boot Image"
7. Select the capture boot image we just created and click Next
8. Once completed, you should be able to use this boot image to capture Operating System images


Create an Install Image (create an image)

Install image includes the OS, custom applications and settings. It is most likely that you will have an install image for every OS you support.

1. Create a base computer (A computer that includes the OS, custom applications and settings).
2. Install sysprep.exe (If you are using windows 2003 or XP, you can find it deploy.cab of Installation CD,), note: sysprep is included by default in Server 2008
3. Run sysprep.exe on the base computer (on XP, sysprep –mini –reseal –forceshutdown )
4. Verify that the base computer is connected to the network and powered on the system
5. Perform a network boot (Often you can do this with the F12 key)
6. In the boot menu screen, select the capture boot image that you created earlier
7. Choose the source drive and enter a name and description for the image. Click Next. Note: only Sysprep drives will appear)
8. Choose "Browse" to select a destination for the image. Enter a name and click "Save", Select "Upload image to WDS Server"
9. Enter the name of the WDS server, and then click Connect.
10. Provide a user name and password if prompted
11. Select the "Image Group" from the list
12. Click "Finish"
13. Now, you should be able to install this image to a server/client via PXE boot.


Install an Install Image (restore an image)

This process restores the Install Image we created earlier.

1. Configure your BIOS to enable PXE boot (aka Network Boot)
2. Perform a network boot (usually by press F12)
3. Select the boot image from the boot menu.
4. WDS will load the computer into GUI and follow the wizard.