On: Windows Deployment Services

AKA: Something that has caused me to lose a lot of hair.

My coworker Steve had started asking me questions about Windows 10 deployment, as we’re probably going to be in Windows 10 land next year.  I said everything I’ve read involves deployment solutions other than Altiris, our current deployment solution.  I said my roommate has suggested a bunch of things, but Windows Deployment Services is probably the easiest to work with.

If WDS is the easiest to work with, I am really glad I went with it because, my god, it has made me pull my hair out a lot over the past week

I’ve been working on this since that day in Summer, off and on.  We’re now probably about 6-9 months away from our first Windows 10 deployment.  I figured it was time to re-address this as a problem.

I figured, let’s start with something easy: Windows 7.

So, I built a Server 2012 R2 VM.

This is where the hassles started. I ran Windows updates.  It found 200 updates.  I did all the updates and rebooted.  The machine never came back up.  Never.  It sat loading for forever.  Great.

I started over, did it again, in batches of 100.  The machine never came back up.  Again.

I started over one more time, in batches of 50.  Huzzah.  The machine came back up each time.  Step 1: averted.

So I added WDS to the VM I just built.  So far, so good.

I added a Windows 10 Boot WIM file so that I could have a recent loader.  I also created a capture image.  Awesome, so far so good.

I added a Dell Stock Windows 7 Pro x64 Image WIM file so I could image a VM with a stock Dell Windows 7 image: for great success.  I also successfully imaged a VM.  So far so good.  I did a test on a physical machine too, just to be sure: bueno, activated and everything.  Let’s make it customized.

I baked in some USB3 drivers because apparently WDS doesn’t like to deploy USB3 drivers with the rest of the drivers.  No biggie, that’s easy with PNPUtil.

So now I’m working on Copying Profile settings and I’ve got the CopyProfile in the unattended.xml I use for capturing and… No dice.

Now people are saying I shouldn’t have created a local user, and should have done it all in System Audit mode.


Next step is to try DefProf and see if it helps.  I’d really hate to have to go back to my base Windows 7 install, go into Audit Mode from the start, and hope for the best.  That’s a lot of duplicated effort to go through… And I’m not looking forward to it.

WDS is VERY powerful, but man it’s poorly documented (to a layperson anyways) and frustrating as hell to work with.

Time to revert my VM and hope for the best.

VM has been reverted, and now I’m trying DefProf.  Going to have to re-capture an image and try deploying it tomorrow.  Today is too long for my brains and I need sleep.

Wish me luck.

-M, out

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