Windows Deployment Services

Microsoft in the wisdom released WDS as a stealth nerf to RIS with Service Pack 2 of Windows 2003 server.  Service Pack 1 versions shipped with the tried the tested Remote Installation Service (RIS).  Personally I feel Microsoft has jumped the gun a bit here by introducing WDS in the R2 release, documentation is very very light on and there is alot of confusing about how to deploy XP via WDS. 

 WDS is the intended Deployment system for Server 2008 and is focused on deploying Vista and not XP systems.  They key to deploying XP with WDS basically comes down to the understanding that you will require a copy of Vista, even if you are not intending to deploy it.  Below are the rough steps I use to deploy XP and Vista with WDS.

  1. Install WDS (do not configure)
  2. Install WAIK – Windows Automated Installation Kit, this is an external download from here. Be warned it’s quite large, but required none the less.
  3. Start WDS Legacy Services – Use the Wizard to add your XP unattended image, I use nlite to create mine you can find it here.
  4. Now configure WDS, running it after Legacy puts WDS into Mixed Mode.  Configurations options to check are;
    • ‘PXE Responce Settings’ = ‘Respond to All’
    • ‘Advanced’ = ‘Allow windows deployment services to dynamically discover valid domain servers’ and ‘Yes, I want to authorise the WDS server in DHCP’
    • ‘DHCP’ = ‘Do not listen on port 67’ and ‘Configure DHCP option 60 to PXE Client’
  5. From the WDS console you need to now add the ‘boot.wim’ from the Vista installation media to the boot images and add ‘install.wim’ to the install images.  The later is only required if you want to deploy Vista.  However you must use the ‘boot.wim’ from vista, without it your XP clients will not get a boot image via tftp when they try to start with PXE.
  6. At this point you should be able to boot a client machine from PXE and have a selection of OS’s to install.

The above assumes that WDS and DHCP are running on the same server and that you have a domain.  WDS is easier to setup then RIS, but at the moment its still alittle bit of voodoo as very little seems to be known about it.

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