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Modifying Task Sequences

Published: December 20, 2007

Team members can modify task sequences for each operating system image they want to deploy. This section describes the steps required to modify the default task sequences during the addition of an operating system to Deployment Workbench and System Center Configuration Manager.

The Task Sequencer runs the task sequence top to bottom in the order specified. Each task in the sequence is a step , and steps can be organized into groups and subgroups. The Image Engineering feature team uses Deployment Workbench to create a new task sequence for that image deployment or performs similar functions in Configuration Manager Console.

Task sequences contain the following types of items:

  • Tasks. Within a task sequence, tasks do the actual work. Tasks are commands that the Task Sequencer runs during the sequence, such as partitioning the disk, capturing user state, and installing the operating system. In the default task sequence, most tasks are commands that run scripts.

  • Groups. The task sequence can be organized into groups—folders that can contain subgroups and tasks. Groups can be nested as necessary. For example, the default task sequence puts tasks in groups by phase and deployment type.

The Image Engineering feature team can filter both tasks and groups, including the groups and tasks they contain, based on conditions that the team specifies. Groups are especially useful for filtering, because an entire collection of tasks can be run based on given conditions.

Note   The Task Sequencer used in Microsoft Deployment requires that the Create Global Object right be assigned to credentials used in running Deployment Workbench and the deployment process. This right is typically available to accounts with administrative-level permissions (unless explicitly removed). The Specialized Security – Limited Functionality (SSLF) security profile removes the Create Global Object right and should not be applied to computers being deployed through Microsoft Deployment. For additional information, see the Windows Vista Security Guide at https://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=A3D1BBED-7F35-4E72-BFB5-B84A526C1565&displaylang=en.

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Deployment Workbench Deployment Workbench
System Center Configuration Manager System Center Configuration Manager

Deployment Workbench

Deployment Workbench uses task sequences to order tasks during the operating system deployment process. When the team has created a task sequence, team members can use the Deployment Workbench console to edit these task sequences to meet the needs of the imaging environment. LTI is used to build master images for deployment with the Lite Touch Deployment Wizard and to capture them for use with the SMS 2003 OSD Feature Pack. System Center Configuration Manager has its own built-in image-build procedure that also uses a task sequence in a similar fashion.

Operating System Packages

To add operating-system packages, including language packs and operating system updates, to the distribution share, complete the following steps:

  1. In Deployment Workbench, expand the Distribution Share node. Right-click OS Packages, and then click New to start the New Package Wizard.

  2. On the Select the location of the package files tab, type the path containing the package files to be added to the distribution share, and then click Add.

    Deployment Workbench adds all the packages it finds in the folder and subfolders.

After adding packages to the distribution share, they appear in the OS Packages details pane. The packages also appear in the distribution share in the Packages folder.

Note   Deployment Workbench only supports the import of Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 operating-system packages.

By default, packages added to the distribution share are included as part of the LTI image build process. But each package can be individually enabled or disabled and—in the case of language packs—hidden from the Lite Touch Deployment Wizard. Enabling a specific operating system package amounts to approving the installation as part of an image build.

Note   For silent installation of Windows Vista operating system updates that are natively delivered as .msu files, install the update available with the Microsoft TechNet article, “When you run Wusa.exe together with the /quiet option to try to install certain software packages on a Windows Vista-based computer, the installation fails,” at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/929761 in all Windows Vista images. This update to the Windows Update Standalone installer fixes an issue in which updates with an embedded End User License Agreement (EULA) fail to install silently with the /quiet option.

Languages

Operating system language packs are added in the same way as updates using the New Package Wizard in Deployment Workbench. Because each language pack can be hidden or disabled, it is easy to create images that only have a subset of the supported languages for delivery within a specific geographic region. Some language packs are large; therefore, it might not be the best practice to add all languages to a master image. At deployment time, the Microsoft Deployment database could be queried with location information to install needed language resources.

Updates

Team members can apply updates to task sequences to keep the images up-to-date for security and additional software fixes. Team members can add the updates during the initial creation of the task sequence or add them as a secondary process after the task sequence is created. The default Deployment Workbench task sequences will automatically install the needed updates when the image is deployed. This will normally be done while the system is booted into Windows PE by updating an Unattend.xml file with appropriate settings to allow Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 Setup to inject the updates offline.

Some operating system updates may be considered additional features—for example, the update for Windows PowerShell, which is available in the Microsoft TechNet article, “Windows PowerShell 1.0 Installation Package for Windows Vista,” at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/928439. The team may decide that this particular update need not be added to all Windows Vista images but as a separate application. To add an operating system package such as this, create a new application in the distribution share, and then open a Command Prompt window to deploy the update through Windows Update Standalone installer (Wusa.exe) with the /quiet option. This guide describes an alternate method of installing an application such as Windows PowerShell in the section, “Adding Applications,” later in this guide.

Out-of-Box Drivers

Out-of-box (OOB) drivers contain drivers that were either not delivered as part of the Windows operating system itself or are later versions released since the original operating system release. It is also common for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to release specific versions of otherwise-generic drivers that enable particular features of their hardware implementation. The Image Engineering feature team can edit the Out-of-Box Drivers listing to contain groups that help identify which drivers are associated with different platforms and computer types. Using the driver groups feature of Deployment Workbench can assist in building hardware-specific images as well as offer additional, deployment-time dynamic driver injection.

In addition, the drivers will be available for use with Windows PE as well as to operating system images. For Windows PE use, network drivers and storage controller drivers are needed most.

To add a group classification to an Out-of-Box Drivers listing

  1. Open Deployment Workbench, and then expand Distribution Share. Click Out-of-Box Drivers, select driver (where driver is the name of the driver to add to a group), and then click Properties.

  2. In the Driver Properties dialog box, click the Groups tab.

  3. Click Add to open the New Driver Group dialog box. Type the desired name of the driver group, click OK, and then click OK again to close the Driver Properties dialog box.

    Good practice is to create a Windows PE group and add any storage controller or network adapter to this driver group to enable these drivers when customizing Windows PE.

Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 Storage Drivers

Teams should make special consideration for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 drivers—especially storage controller drivers. Create these legacy Windows images with any required storage controller drivers present when first executing Sysprep. To ensure that this process works properly, complete the following steps:

Note   The $OEM$ structure mentioned below is a method of copying an intact folder structure from the distribution share onto the partition on which Windows is being installed. This process is thoroughly documented in the Setup documentation for every Windows operating system.

  1. Download the most recent Windows Hardware Qualified drivers from the OEM.

  2. Extract these drivers to the distribution share in an $OEM$ structure such as:

    \\Servername\Distribution$\Control\<Task Sequence>\$OEM$\$1\Drivers\StorageDriverName

    where <Task Sequence> is the name of the Task Sequence for Windows XP with SP2 or Windows Server 2003 image deployment and StorageDriverName is a generic name for the driver, such as IASTOR for the Intel Matrix Storage Manager.

  3. Open the .inf files included with the drivers to discover the Plug and Play IDs for the drivers. These IDs will appear in lines such as:

    ExcludeFromSelect=PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_282A&CC_0104

    and typically have multiple lines in a single storage controller driver file.

    Each ExcludeFromSelect line must be translated into the format used for Sysprep.inf so that there is a single line for each Plug and Play ID that points to the location of the driver .inf file associated with the ID—for example:

    PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2652&CC_0106="C:\DRIVERS\IASTOR\IAAHCI.INF"

    Good practice is to collect each individual line like that above into a single text file in a text editor such as Notepad, and then copy it into the Sysprep.inf file located in the \\Servername\Distribution$\Control\Task_Sequence folder.

  4. Set the BuildMassStorage value to YES, and copy all the lines into the Sysprep.inf file under the [SysprepMassStorage] section as follows:

    [Sysprep] 
    BuildMassStorageSection = YES 
    [SysprepMassStorage] 
    PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2652&CC_0106="C:\DRIVERS\IASTOR\IAAHCI.INF" 
    PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_2653&CC_0106="C:\DRIVERS\IASTOR\IAAHCI.INF" 
    PCI\VEN_8086&DEV_27C1&CC_0106="C:\DRIVERS\IASTOR\IAAHCI.INF" 

    When the command sysprep –reseal –shutdown is run on the Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 computer, Sysprep locates the needed drivers and injects them into the prepared image.

    Note   There is a known issue with deploying Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 images with Windows PE version 2.0. See the Microsoft Help and Support articles, “You cannot install Windows XP successfully after you use Windows Vista or Windows PE 2.0 to create partitions on a hard disk,” at http://support.microsoft.com/?id=931760 and “You cannot install Windows Server 2003 successfully after you use Windows Vista or Windows PE 2.0 to create partitions on a hard disk” at http://support.microsoft.com/?id=931761 for available fixes and workarounds.

Applications

During the Developing Phase, the Application Management feature team repackaged applications or automated their installation. Core applications are common to most computers in the organization; supplemental applications are not. For more information about repackaging applications and the differences between core and supplemental applications, see the Microsoft Deployment document, Application Management Feature Team Guide.

The first step in adding applications to an image is to add them to the distribution share. Deployment Workbench can install the application from its original network location, or it can copy the application source files to the distribution share. In either case, the Image Engineering feature team specifies the commands for installing the application when the team adds it to the distribution share.

In addition, individual applications can be added as needed to an individual task sequence for more granular image builds. As mentioned earlier, an application such as Windows PowerShell, which is released as a Windows Vista update, could be added as an application by first adding it as a new application with the command WUSA.EXE /quiet to install the Windows6.0-KB928439-x86.msu file (or Windows6.0-KB928439-x64.msu file). To add an application such as this in Deployment Workbench, complete the following procedures.

To add Windows PowerShell

  1. In Deployment Workbench, expand the Distribution share.

  2. Right-click the Applications node, and then click New.

  3. In the New Application Wizard, select Application with source files, and then click Next.

  4. Complete the Details page appropriately with the Windows PowerShell name. (The other fields are optional.)

  5. On the Source page, browse to the folder in which the Windows6.0-KB928439-x86.msu file resides, and then click OK. Click Next.

  6. On the Destination page, leave the default name of Windows PowerShell, and then click Next.

  7. On the Command Details page, type:

    wusa.exe /quiet Windows6.0-KB928439-x86.msu
  8. Leave the Working directory field as is, and then click Finish.

    To hide the application in the wizard, right-click the new application, and then click Properties. In the properties sheet, select the Hide this application in the Deployment Wizard check box, and then click OK.

To create new task to install Windows PowerShell individually

  1. In Deployment Workbench, right-click the task sequence to modify, and then click Properties.

  2. On the General tab, select the Hide this task sequence in the Deployment Wizard check box to prevent the task sequence from appearing.

  3. On the Task Sequence tab (which serves at the editor in Deployment Workbench), navigate to the State Restore phase.

  4. If the task sequence has a Restore User State task, select this task, and then click Add. Beneath the general tasks, select Install Application.

    Note   Use the Up or Down buttons to order the added task as needed.

    If the newly added application was selected, note that on the Properties tab, team members can install a single application and select Windows PowerShell from the list.

    Note   Use this method to install individual applications to give more granularity to the image customization.

For additional guidance on applications, see Image Engineering Feature Team Guide.

System Center Configuration Manager

Unlike Systems Management Server 2003, System Center Configuration Manager has the ability to create images natively without direct need of Microsoft Deployment. However, the integration of Microsoft Deployment with System Center Configuration Manager combined with the ability to import task sequences from Microsoft Deployment provides additional granularity and functionality.

System Center Configuration Manager does not use any of the application, operating system, or driver packages from the Deployment Workbench. Instead, team members define System Center Configuration Manager packages for applications, operating system packages, and drivers as part of an image-customization process. By modifying the image build task sequence in System Center Configuration Manager, team members can define the details of the build with significant granularity.

Use System Center Configuration Manager Packages with Microsoft Deployment

Because System Center Configuration Manager maintains applications, operating system packages, and drivers in a fairly uniform fashion, it is easy to use the System Center Configuration Manager tools to create new packages and to add them as needed to an individual task sequence.

Operating System packages (or updates) and language packs are installed as part of the new Software Update Point feature in System Center Configuration Manager. Teams can select individual updates or several updates or language packs as needed, and then individually install them as part of a task sequence.

Operating System Packages, Drivers, and Language Packs

System Center Configuration Manager natively installs operating system packages, drivers, and language packs online after it has installed the operating system. For Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Deployment can install these elements as part of a task sequence offline , while booted into Windows PE, and automate this installation in a just-in-time fashion.

For example, the default Microsoft Deployment task sequences for import into System Center Configuration Manager has a task already configured named Auto Apply Drivers, which automatically installs all relevant drivers to an image offline. This offline driver management means that when the computer starts for the first time, all the drivers needed are already present on the computer, virtually guaranteeing a successful deployment.

Language packs can be installed either offline or online by adding either Install Language Packs Offline or Install Language Packs Online to the appropriate section of the task sequence used to create the master image.

Add Applications to a Task Sequence

Adding specific applications to a task sequence in Configuration Manager Console is as simple as adding one in Deployment Workbench.

To add an application to a task sequence

  1. In the Configuration Manager Console, expand Operating System Deployment. Select the task sequence to modify, and then click Edit.

  2. Locate the State Restore phase of the task sequence, and then find an appropriate location in which to add the Install Software task.

    Application installation should typically occur before the Restore User State step or a step such as Install Software Updates that may affect the installed application.

  3. Click Add. In the General group, select the Install Software task.

  4. Modify the properties, and then select the Install a single application option. Click Browse to select the application to install, and then select the associated program from the list.

    Note   When making an addition or change to a task sequence, use the Up and Down buttons to move the task to the proper location.

  5. When all necessary changes have been made, click Apply to save changes.


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