Perform Zero Touch Installation with MDT

Robert Perez-Corona
Robert Perez-Corona used Ask the Experts™
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We need to avoid SCCM. We know that with System Center Confiuration Manager, zero touch installs are feasible plus you have console.

Is there a way/unofficial guide to predefine as many task as possible so that all you have to do is run the litetouch script or similar script and automate the rest of the image install process?


Sounds like this will require lots of tweaking..

Need help on this and we can't use SCCM

Thanks for the help,

tobe
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Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

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Commented:
Do they provide a console? How does it work?

Thanks,

tobe
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Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
These are nice solutions but we are trying to stick to Microsoft platforms.

Is there a way to run a script using sysinternals or psexec on a local client that initiates the imaging process in a zero touch install method?

For example, when you run the litetouch.vbs script in the user state in order to deploy a reference image, it prompts for language settings and other questions. Is there a way to automate this using Microsoft free tools?

Even though a console is a plus, if we have to pay for it, this eliminates the purpose of trying to replacing ghost
solutions suite with any M$ free tools.

Thanks for the help,

Tobe
Sure you've to create a unattend.xml file in order to "answer this questions"
http://www.cluberti.com/images/MDT2010anddeploymentfromaUSBkey_1135D/014.png
Using Windows Deployment Service, you should be able to prepare your "gloden image" and then deploy it.
Wouldn't it be easier?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Deployment_Services

How to create custom images:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd637993%28WS.10%29.aspx

Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
I thought WDS does not allow you to push out an image to a workstation? We are trying to avoid having to manually boot PXE. Are you saying I can do a mass deployment with WDS alone?

Thanks again!

Tobe
Yes you can.
WDS can push an image to a workstation, a server...
It requires a PXE boot, but you may centralize that a little:
In "normal" operations, you can set your PXE system to begin with PXE boot and then chain-boot to the local HDD.
If you then want to deploy an image to a particular host (or to selected hosts), you can configure the system to perform a real PXE boot and use WDS to deploy the image to the computers.
Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
How can WDS push the image to a workstaion if you boot PXE?

Also, how would you configure let's say 200 computers to boot PXE and use WDS?


Thanks and regards,

tobe
I don't get your first question.
If you boot any PC with PXE, PXE loads a bootloader. In case of WDS, this bootloader then loads a WinPE environment, and this WinPE environment can access a pre-configured image and can clone it onto a real HDD attached to the PC.

Configuring any number of computers to PXE boot is just a matter of having the right DHCP/PXE infrastructure and make sure that "Network boot" is used when the computers boot up.

Check these links for some WDS tutorials:
http://oakdome.com/k5/tutorials/deploy-xp-images/deploy-xp-with-windows-2003-deployment-services.php
http://www.edugeek.net/forums/o-s-deployment/7196-tips-beginners-3.html#post109236
http://blogs.southworks.net/aalvarez/2007/11/10/installing-and-configuring-wds-windows-deployment-services-full-images-deployment-part-i/
Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
I was thinking that once the PC boots PXE it then pulls the images from WDS.

I do have a DHCP/PXE infrastructure set up. How would I force clients to "network book" if I need to hit f12 after?


Thanks again,

Tobe
you can select the "network boot" as the first boot device in your client BIOSes
Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
I see. However, after it boots to the network and it pulls an IP, I need to hit f12 once more.

Is this where the preconfigured image comes in?

thanks for the help

t
Normally, you should be able to configure it to network boot by default (no f12).
It depends on your BIOS implementation though, but this is usually doable.

Then, you could use PXELinux as your default PXE boot lader. It can be configured to instruct the client computer to local boot or to PXE chain boot.
gPXE can do the same use the UNDI implementation of gPXE as your PXE boot loader).

The good thing is that then you can configure the way your "clients" boot up from a central location (usually the TFTP server's folder used for PXE). You can select one client to WDS-boot and one other to local boot. Or several clients (based on their MAC address for instance)
Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the insight.

How would the clients know which image to boot up and automate everything so that it's a truly tweaked, yet Zero Touch Installation config
This is done in WDS configuration.
If you use the PXELinux/gPXE/iPXE trick, you would direct the clients to PXEBoot (chain load) off the WDS server when you want to (re)install them. WDS would know what image to assign to which client (based on its own configuration data).
You could even use wake on lan and remote shutdown to do everything without having to go to each client.

Otherwise, OS streaming may be another lead: Then you do not even need a disk drive in the clients, they boot off a virtual disk drive hosted on a server. This virtual disk drive can be shared among several clients.
Check products/technologies such as HP Image Manager, Double Take Flex, gPXE/iPXE + iSCSI initiator (SAN boot), ccboot, Wyse Streaming Manager...
Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
Good way of thinking outside the box.

I would need some help setting up the PXELinux etc.

I am just having a hard time figuring out how WDS will be simpler than executing litetouch.vbs through psexec on remote machines?

I am fairly new to microsoft deployment tools. Thanks for the tremendous guidance.

Regards,

Tobe
Regarding your comment:
"am just having a hard time figuring out how WDS will be simpler than executing litetouch.vbs through psexec on remote machines?"

The issue is that you can't re-image a system HDD when it is run off said HDD.
Well, this is doable but you need to have several partitions and swap the boot partition after you re-imaged.
In general, when you want to image some HDD, you can't load the OS that performs the imaging operation from said HDD... Imaging that you want to re-image a Windows 7 OS for a client that is currently running WinXP (and thus psexec runs in the WinXP environment). You begin to boot XP, remotely launch psexec and make it execute the imaging operation. At one moment, the OS kernel files will have to be replaced and then you loose the environment that was used to launch psexec...
Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
I see what you mean.

One thing I forgot to mention that might sound crazy is that WDS, DHCP, AD, DNS, WSUS are all on the same host. Even though this might not be the most secure measure, it needs to stay this way.

Do you think that the WDS setup would be feasible? Or would I need a second workstation for PXElinux?

Thanks again,

tobe
Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
So would I be able to perform a zero touch install with all my roles on one server?

Otherwise, can I generate a way to do this without any other components and just what Microsoft offers?

Thanks,

t
You can run everything on the same host (theoretically).
PXELinux is "just a PXE boot loader" and it just has to be stored in your TFTP root folder. It uses a hierarchical configuration with folders and files (using client MAC addresses).

Now, you should, at first, try to set up your system without PXELinux and, while tuning it, press F12 to network boot the target workstation off WDS server. When this works and you have your WDS system up and running the way you want it, then you can use PXELinux if you feel this is needed to actually instruct the nodes to boot off their HDD OR off the WDS server.
Robert Perez-CoronaSystems Administrator

Author

Commented:
Ok I see. Thanks for providing valid information.

Moreover, I have something a bit different going on in my lab.

I was thinking that after we capture an image from WDS we would have it rest on MDT.

After configuring the customsettings.ini file to automate the questions that need to be answer when the litetouch script is ran i.e. user state back up location and domain to join etc...from the reference machine or any other machine, we run the litetouch.vbs script that lies in the MDT deployment share\scripts....

The machine then runs the task sequence and reboots PXE and installs the image etc..

MDT and WDS are quite different AFAICT.
WDS would be more like a cloning tool when MDT more like an unattended installation tool.
In the past, unattended installations were not that reliable and used to fail in 5%-3% of the cases, requesting the administrator to manually solve the issue...

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