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Windows Deployment Services Role

Updated: January 21, 2008

Applies To: Windows Server 2008

The Windows Deployment Services role in the Windows Server® 2008 operating system is the updated and redesigned version of Remote Installation Services (RIS). Windows Deployment Services enables you to deploy Windows® operating systems, particularly Windows Vista® and Windows Server 2008. The components of Windows Deployment Services are organized into the following three categories:

  • Server components. These components include a Pre-Boot Execution Environment (PXE) server and Trivial File Transfer Protocol (TFTP) server for network booting a client to load and install an operating system. Also included is a shared folder and image repository that contains boot images, install images, and files that you need specifically for network booting. There is also a networking layer, a multicast component, and a diagnostics component.

  • Client components. These components include a graphical user interface that runs within the Microsoft® Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE). When a user selects an operating system image, the client components communicate with the server components to install the image.

  • Management components. These components are a set of tools that you use to manage the server, operating system images, and client computer accounts.

    ImportantImportant
    This topic focuses primarily on the functionality of the Deployment Server role service. For information about how to configure and use the Transport Server role service, see Use Transport Server to enable multicast download of data.

Windows Deployment Services assists you with the rapid adoption and deployment of Windows operating systems. You can use it to set up new computers by using a network-based installation. This means that you do not have to be physically present at each computer, and you do not have to install each operating system directly from a product CD or DVD.

Windows Deployment Services is intended for deployment specialists who are responsible for the deployment of Windows operating systems in an organization. You can use Windows Deployment Services in any organization that is interested in simplifying deployments and increasing the consistency of their Windows-based computers. The intended audiences are:

  • IT planners or analysts who are evaluating Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008

  • Enterprise IT planners or designers

  • Deployment specialists who are interested in deploying images to computers without operating systems

During installation of the Windows Deployment Services role, you can choose to install only the Transport Server role service, or both the Transport Server and Deployment Server role services. For a detailed comparison of these options, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=89222.

  • Transport Server. This option provides a subset of the functionality of Windows Deployment Services. It contains only the core networking parts. You can use Transport Server to create multicast namespaces that transmit data (including operating system images) from a stand-alone server.

  • Deployment Server. This option provides the full functionality of Windows Deployment Services, which you can use to configure and remotely install Windows operating systems.

There are no requirements for installing Transport Server. If you choose to install Deployment Server, your environment must meet the following requirements:

  • Active Directory® Domain Services. A Windows Deployment Services server must be either a member of an Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) domain or a domain controller for an Active Directory Domain Services domain. The Active Directory Domain Services domain and forest versions are irrelevant—all domain and forest configurations support Windows Deployment Services.

  • DHCP server. You must have a working Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server with an active scope on the network because Windows Deployment Services uses Pre-Boot Execution Environment (PXE), which relies on DHCP for IP addressing.

  • DNS server. You must have a working Dynamic Name Services (DNS) server on the network to run Windows Deployment Services.

  • NTFS volume. The server running Windows Deployment Services requires an NTFS file system volume for the image store.

  • Credentials. To install the role, you must be a member of the Local Administrators group on the Windows Deployment Services server. To start the Windows Deployment Services client, you must be a member of the Domain Users group.

Windows Deployment Services for Windows Server 2008 includes several modifications to RIS features. There are also modifications from Windows Deployment Services that you can install on computers running the Windows Server 2003 operating system.

 

Changes from RIS Changes from Windows Deployment Services on Windows Server 2003
  • Ability to deploy Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

  • Windows PE is the boot operating system.

  • Image-based installation using Windows image (.wim) files.

  • Ability to create multicast transmissions of data and images.

  • Ability to transmit data and images using multicasting on a stand-alone server (when you install Use Transport Server to enable multicast download of data).

  • An extensible and higher-performing PXE server.

  • A new boot menu format for selecting boot images.

  • A new graphical user interface that you can use to select and deploy images and to manage Windows Deployment Services servers and clients.

  • Ability to create multicast transmissions of data and images.

  • Ability to transmit data and images using multicasting on a stand-alone server (when you install Use Transport Server to enable multicast download of data).

  • Does not support RISETUP images or OSChooser screens.

  • Enhanced TFTP server.

  • Ability to network boot x64-based computers with Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI).

  • Metric reporting for installations.

With Windows Deployment Services, you can do the following:

Boot images are the images that you boot a client computer into before installing the operating system image. The boot image presents a boot menu that contains the images that users can install onto their computers. Windows PE 2.0 is the new boot image format for Windows Deployment Services. Windows Deployment Services can boot both standard and custom boot images, as long as two conditions are met:

  • The Windows PE 2.0 image must be stored in .wim format.

  • The Windows PE 2.0 image within the .wim file must be marked as able to boot from RAMDISK (using the /boot option in ImageX.exe).

You can use the standard boot images that are included on the Windows Vista or Windows Server 2008 installation media (located at \Sources\boot.wim) without modification. However, the Boot.wim that you use must match (or be newer than) the operating system of the install image. For example, if you are installing Windows Server 2008, you must use the boot image from the Windows Server 2008 media—for this scenario, you cannot use the Boot.wim from the Windows Vista media. The Boot.wim images meet the two conditions stated above and they also contain the Windows Deployment Services client (which is basically Windows Vista Setup.exe and supporting files). Except in advanced scenarios (for example, if you need to add drivers to the image), you will not need to modify this file. For more information, see the "Working with Images" chapter at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=88439.

In addition, there are two types of images that you can create from boot images: capture images and discover images.

If you need to modify the boot image, it is easier than it has been in the past. Previously, to modify the boot menu, you had to modify the code directly. With boot images, you use the standard tools in the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK). Also, because boot images use Windows PE instead of OSChooser, you have more freedom in what you can modify (for example, you can run Visual Basic and HTML application scripts). Another advantage of using Windows PE instead of OSChooser is that you can use the same Windows PE boot images regardless of where you are booting from (for example, the network, a USB drive, or a disk). OSChooser customizations applied to only installations that used RIS.

Capture images are boot images that launch the Windows Deployment Services capture utility instead of Setup. When you boot a reference computer (that has been prepared with Sysprep) into a capture image, a wizard creates an install image of the reference computer and saves it as a .wim file. You can also create media (CD, DVD, USB drive, and so on) that contains a capture image, and then boot a computer from the media. After you create the install image, you can add the image to the server for PXE boot deployment. For more information, see the "Working with Images" chapter at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=88439.

You can use capture images as an alternative to the command-line utility ImageX to create an image from a computer that has been prepared with Sysprep. Previously, image capture involved a complex command-line procedure. The Windows Deployment Services capture utility allows administrators who may not be familiar with working at a command prompt to capture images.

Discover images are boot images that force Setup to start in Windows Deployment Services mode and then discover a Windows Deployment Services server. These images are typically used to deploy images to computers that are not PXE-enabled or are on networks that do not allow PXE. When you create a discover image and save it to media (CD, DVD, USB drive, and so on), you can then boot a computer to the media. The discover image on the media locates a Windows Deployment Services server, and the server deploys the install image to the computer. For more information, see the "Working with Images" chapter at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=88439.

You can use a discover image from a computer that does not support PXE boot to deploy an install image from a Windows Deployment Services server. Without this functionality, computers that do not support PXE boot cannot be reimaged using Windows Deployment Services resources.

You can build custom install images from reference computers and deploy them to client computers. A reference computer can be a computer with a standard Windows installation or a Windows installation that has been configured for a specific environment. You boot a computer (which has been prepared with Sysprep) into a capture image, then the capture image creates an install image of the computer. For more information, see the "Working with Images" chapter at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=88439.

You can use the Windows Deployment Services capture utility instead of command-line tools that depend on the version of the operating system. By using this utility, you can boot any of the supported operating systems to create an install image of that computer. The process that you use is similar to the process of installing the operating system.

Windows Deployment Services enables you to automate the Windows Deployment Services client and the latter stages of Windows Setup. This two-stage approach is accomplished by using two unattend files:

  • Windows Deployment Services client unattend file. This file uses the Unattend.xml format and is stored on the Windows Deployment Services server in the \WDSClientUnattend folder. It is used to automate the Windows Deployment Services client user interface screens (such as entering credentials, choosing an install image, and configuring the disk).

  • Image unattend file. This file uses the Unattend.xml or Sysprep.inf format, depending upon the version of the operating system in the image. It is stored in a subfolder (either $OEM$ structure or \Unattend) in the per-image folder. It is used to automate the remaining phases of Setup (for example, offline servicing, Sysprep specialize, and Mini-Setup).

To automate the installation, create the appropriate unattend file depending on whether you are configuring the Windows Deployment Services client or Windows Setup. We recommend that you use Windows System Image Manager (included as part of the Windows AIK) to author the unattend files. Then copy the unattend file to the appropriate location and assign it for use. You can assign it at the server level or the client level. The server-level assignment can further be broken down by architecture, which allows you to have different settings for x86-based and x64-based clients. An assignment at the client level overrides the server-level settings. For more information about unattended installations, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=89226.

You can use unattend files to automate common installation tasks and standardize settings for your organization. Windows Deployment Services provides several options for associating unattend files with boot and install images.

Multicast transmissions enable you to deploy an image to a large number of client computers without overburdening the network. This feature is disabled by default. When you create a transmission, you have two options for the multicast type:

  • Auto-Cast. This option indicates that as soon as an applicable client requests an install image, a multicast transmission of the selected image begins. Then, as other clients request the same image, they are joined to the transmission that has already started.

  • Scheduled-Cast. This option sets the start criteria for the transmission based on the number of clients that are requesting an image and/or a specific day and time.

For more information, see Multicasting with Deployment Server (http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=89225).

When you create a multicast transmission for an image, the data is sent over the network only once, which can drastically reduce the network bandwidth that is used.

The Transport Server role service provides a subset of the functionality of Windows Deployment Services. It contains only the core networking parts. You can use Transport Server to create multicast namespaces that transmit data (including operating system images) from a stand-alone server. The stand-alone server does not need the AD DS, DHCP, or DNS server roles.

You can use Transport Server in advanced scenarios as a part of a custom deployment solution. You should use install and configure this option if you want to create multicast namespaces, but do not want to incorporate all of Windows Deployment Services.

For more information about implementing this scenario, see the "Transport Server" chapter at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=88439.

The Windows Deployment Services role does not support RISETUP images or OSChooser screens. In addition, you will need to convert your RIPREP images to .wim format or retire them. To retire them, simply delete the images. If you wish to convert them, you have two options:

  • Offline conversion (RIPREP images only)

  • Deploy and recapture (RIPREP or RISETUP images)

For more information about these options, see the "Working with Images" chapter at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=88439.

There are several things to consider before you install the Windows Deployment Services role. You should read about the Deployment Server and Transport Server role services and the prerequisites for installing them. If you are upgrading a server that is running RIS or the Windows Deployment Services update, then note that only servers in Native mode can upgrade to Windows Server 2008. Your upgrade will be blocked if RIS is configured, or if Windows Deployment Services is in Legacy or Mixed mode. To check the operating mode that you are in, run the following command: WDSUTIL /get-server /show:config

For more information about installing and upgrading, see http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=89222.

Windows Deployment Services is not included in Windows Server 2008 for Itanium-Based Systems.

For more information about the Windows Deployment Services role, see:

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