Take an image of a laptop and deploy to others using PXE


It been some time since I have used PXE and need to use again, I need to take a reference laptop x64 Win7, x64 Win8, x64 Win10 and deploy to new laptops to save having to setup from fresh each time.

What is the best\free method of doing this? I have a windows AD domain which all computers are on and Windows 2012 R2 servers, I would also consider a Linux solution and have been looking at FOG.

Julian HainesSenior IT AdministratorAsked:
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Muhammad MullaSystems AdministratorCommented:
If you have an Windows AD domain, then you will be able to do this using Microsoft Deployment toolkit and Windows Deployment services.

Any solution will take some thought and may require some network configuration (e.g. IP helpers or DHCP options).

MDT allows you to capture OS images as well as install them via PXE boot using task sequences.

I would thoroughly recommend it. Once setup, it is a very powerful solution.
i assume you have a tftp and nfs server ready.
you can use something such as clonezilla or ghost4unix
both do rather dumb clones of the whole disk to ftp or nfs
actually applying dd on the whole disk from any live distro produces the same results

if you want something more complete, have a look at clonedeploy which features a builtin deployment server and most likely a nice GUI. i have no experience with it though

fog seems better and can be joined with ad which i assume is a useful feature in your case. but no experience with that either

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
The only edition of Windows the end user is allowed to image is a Volume License.  If these aren't volume license installs, you'll need to reload.

Windows imaging no longer requires the image be built on the same model you deploy to.  Starting with Vista 8 years ago, the images are largely hardware agnostic.  Most of the time these days, I build images from VMs.

You MUST, repeat *MUST* use SYSPREP prior to imaging.  This is a requirement to ensure Windows remains in a supported state. And that doesn't mean you ever intend to call MS for help - that means that you keep it's config in a state that Microsoft has tested / will continue to test to ENSURE you don't develop weird problems as updates roll out in the future... or even cause problems today.

As for what tool, Windows Deployment Services (WDS) is built in to Windows Server.  You can enhance it's abilities GREATLY using in conjunction with the free Microsoft Deployment Toolkit -- MDT.
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Mike TLeading EngineerCommented:

I'm not sure why anyone would mention Linux in the same breath as this. I've nothing (*nothing*) against Linux at all, but to deploy MS products, it's best to stick to MS products.

You will need:

MDT 2013 Update 2
WADK (latest update for W10 1607)
WDS role installed
WSUS role installed

All at no extra cost, well developed and documented. As Lee said, beware licesnsing, and yes sysprep is not optional it's mandatory.

MDT can handle any OS deployment simultaneously - i.e. the one install can configure and deploy each OS separately.
The only extra two things to mention:
use Hyper-v to build and capture your images
use a separate box for WSUS if you can

Julian HainesSenior IT AdministratorAuthor Commented:

Thanks for all the advice, I have decided to give CloneDeploy a try and within an hour I have cloned and restored a laptop. I will do more testing to see what it cant do and if I have any issues I will go back to the Microsoft method.

if you forgot to sysprep and you want the cloned hosts to work properly in a domain, you can use this tool

if you expect to change the hardware, you really should sysprep before you clone

feel free to post information / ask for advice regarding your experiments with clonedeploy or any other tools including msft's.
@mike : got nothing against msft's products or any piece of software as long as the tool does the job properly. i mainly mentioned linux tools because the author mentioned linux in the question. actually g4u is netbsd based from what i recollect
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:

Sysprep does MORE than change the SID.  Using it does not keep the system in a supported state.  If you forget to sysprep, then you need to rebuild the image.  PERIOD.

You should read your link - it says clearly in red:
Note: NewSID has been retired and is no longer available for download. Please see Mark Russinovich’s blog post: NewSID Retirement and the Machine SID
Julian HainesSenior IT AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Hi, yes before I take an image I am running sysprep.


the actual reason why sysprep was removed at some point is that it allowed to bypass windows activation. the allegated reason is that it is useless... which is false in many cases.

newsid is still downloadable in various places including msdn : www.labo-microsoft.org/d/d/?id=16694

and it gave way to new tools such as http://www.stratesave.com/html/sidchg.html

newsid has quite a few shortcomings : it breaks wsus if the computer was registered before it was cloned, it will not help with changing the hardware in any way, ... but these do not apply in every situation...

anyway, this is besides the point since the author uses sysprep
Julian HainesSenior IT AdministratorAuthor Commented:
Yes I have had issues with newsid and dont use anymore, I am still working with Windows 7 and need to rethink once I am forced to move to Windows 10 >
Julian HainesSenior IT AdministratorAuthor Commented:

I have decided to go back to WDS as CloneDeploy has too many bugs still.

I have already run into a stupid issue and forgot that all my computers use OEM licenses which I have found out you cant do with WDS, I will have to build a KMS server but I am confused about licensing even after reading about it on the MS site.

Do I have to buy more then one Volume License for Windows 7 X64 Pro to start deploying or do I need 25 before the KMS will start working? Can I use the one Volume License on all my OEM machines?

I will only be deploying a few machines at a time and nowhere near 25.
Mike TLeading EngineerCommented:
Yes, you need 25 or more machines to use KMS.

If you've not got 25 machines then I'd say you are not doing volume, so are better off sticking with retail licenses.

Mike TLeading EngineerCommented:
If you've now rejected CloneDeploy as a solution, don't the question and points become unallocated again? I just noticed this is "answered" but you changed your mind. Just wondering.
Julian HainesSenior IT AdministratorAuthor Commented:
I am going to get a Windows 7 Volume License and convert 25 of our OEM licensed desktops to this, then I can create a gold image so I can deploy when needed to save setting up from scratch each time, I am having to do about three a week.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:

I completely disagree with you.  I'm not sure where you got your information, but I've had conversations with deployment folks - sysprep does a lot and uses code from various teams to complete the process.  Sysprep to a machine that has been in production is not recommended and I'm fairly certain, NOT SUPPORTED.  

I'd suggest you read over what it is/does:

As for the license question you only need ONE volume license.  You should read "Reimaging Rights" as that explains what you can do and how you can legally use one VL copy to reload OEM based systems.
Julian HainesSenior IT AdministratorAuthor Commented:

Thank you this is very usfull information, so I can use one VL but I will have to deploy on OEM machines that I have built using the VL ISO.

This is not a problem and probably a good idea as I can build new machines with VL and rotate in for users just means I have to do 25 this way but at least I know they are setup correctly.

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