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How can I deploy XP SP2/SP3 images using MDT and WDS? (Best Practices)

I am currently deploying my XP images to a high school campus via WDS, using legacy RIS images, and am looking for a "cleaner" solution. I have been somewhat unsuccessful in using MDT to create a custom image, and then deploying it using WDS. Currently, I have approximately 10 different Dell workstation models on my campus. I have seperate RIS images for each based on their HAL. It works OK, but every year I have to redo them all (updates, service packs, etc.)

This is what I'd like to accomplish: (Is it possible?)

1) I visit each computer on campus, and PXE boot to WDS. Select the correct image, and enter only the machine name. Other information should all be automated (activation code, admin password, etc.). (Would there still have to be seperate images for each workstation model, or is MDT smart enought to install model specific drivers, etc.?)

2) The computer shoudl auto-join the domain.

3) The process should be totally automated (other than entering the machine name at the start). I would like to avoid answering questions regarding partitions, etc. Every machine should be totally wiped, and the operating system re-installed. Can this all be automated using unattend.txt or similar?

4) Hopefully, it's possible to include future updates, service packs, etc. into the images without having to do everything over.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! Also, if this isn't the best way to accomplish my goals, any other suggestions would be great!
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1 Solution
GSS 2.5

You only need to purchase 1 license because you will not be using the "Console" to administer the immages.

using ghostcastserver and the 3com utilitys that come with it you could PXE boot to a dedicated image server to cast images accross your network. License for GSS is no more than $60-70

dbrown32Author Commented:
Thanks Kavo. I should have mentioned that my organization generally does not allow third party solutions, and with the economic conditon will likely not spend any money. Hopefully, there is a MS solution to this.
For XP the only solution is RIS...
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You can definately use MDT 2008 to do all the above.

The best practice to create a single 'reference' image, that you then capture to deploy (via WDS) to workstations.

As for HALs, depending on the age of the fleet, you should be able to use a single reference image with a multi-proc HAL (i.e.  Capture the image on a Multi-Proc machine).  I have clients that support 20+ different hardware models with a single image.

As for drivers, Dell has starting creating CAB files (http://www.delltechcenter.com/page/Dell+Business+Client+Operating+System+Deployment+-+The+.CAB+Files ) that you can extract and import straight into MDT.

All that being said, MDT 2008 is a lot easier than previous versions, but still takes some getting to know, the help file is invaluable, and they now have quick 'getting started' guides.

The general proccess is as follows:
(1)  Create a LAB MDT Deployment Point for creating and capturing the reference image
(2)  Create a task sequence to create a reference image
(2a) Import the Drivers to support your reference image
(3) Build and capture the reference image to a WIM
(4) Create a Network deployment point for deploying your captured WIM image
(5) Import the captured WIM image into the Network Deployment Point
(6) Import the drivers to support your hardware models
(7) Create a task sequence to deploy your reference image
(8) Modify CustomSettings.INI and Bootstrap.INI to automate the deployment proccess
(9) Generate a MDT Boot WIM, and import it into WDS

Like I said .. not easy straight of the bat, but free, and works really well once you've got it set up.  After it's all set up, it's easy to add updates, service packs etc.
dbrown32Author Commented:
Thank you, Jon--

I have just a couple more questions. How can I tell if a machine has a multiproc HAL? Does that simply mean the machine has 2 processors?

How do I seperate the drivers for each machine? Do several images show up when PXE booting, based on machine?

Thanks again, I think I have something to get started with.
A machine will have a multiproc HAL if it has one or more proccesses (including cores), so check device manager to see if there are multiple proccesors.  See http://support.microsoft.com/kb/298898 to determine what HAL is being used.

There are some supported scenarios from going from a UniProc HAL to a MultiProc HAL and Visa-Versa using SYSPREP.INF, see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/309283 for more detail.

You don't need to seperate the drivers, MDT performs a plug and play enumration of all devices on the machine and will download the approriate drivers during deployment.

When PXE booting using WDS, you only need a single boot  WIM file to choose (unless you are also deploying an x64 operating system, then you will need two)
dbrown32Author Commented:
Jon, if you're still following...

I'm having trouble with point 3: Build and capture the reference image to a WIM

Once I've built my image the way I want it, how do I upload it back to the server for deployment?

The simplist way is to create a standad MDT client task sequence, then delete all the tasks except for those relating to capturing the image.  Then run LiteTouch.vbs off the MDT deployment share from the image you have created, and enter the details in the LiteTouch Wizard.

The reference image will then sysprep, re-boot into WinPE, and capture the image back up to the share specified in the Wizard.

Unfortunately i don't have an MDT server in front of me, so it's a bit hard to reference exactly what needs to be done.

The best practice way is to create and capture your reference image using a standard MDT client task sequence, then use a seperate MDT deployment point for deploying the captured image.  This way, the building of your reference image is automated (no manual steps required), and is easy to modify if required.
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