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I have been working on creating standard windows 7 images that can be installed on physical machines (setting up developer machines) following the instructions here

This involves:

  1. Setting up the operating system, installing the required applications etc
  2. Sysprepping the machine
  3. Using a USB drive with Windows PE to capture the image to a .wim file
  4. Combining my .wim file with the standard Windows 7 installation media.
  5. Using that installation media to install Windows 7

I have this all working when I build the image on a physical machine. However, for maintenance going forward I don't want to do this, I would like to use some sort of virtual image.

I have been looking at using Hyper V for this, but I can't figure out how to get the virtual image to boot into win PE so I can capture the image. On a physical machine I select from the list of bootable devices when the machine starts up, but I cannot do that with a Hyper V image.

Any ideas on how I can get the virtual image I have built eventually onto a USB drive so I can install this on a physical machine?


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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Make a WinPE CD and boot from it. If you have a USB Drive already, you can pretty much copy it over (skip to step 4). Or you can setup a PXE server to boot WinPE, but that'd be much more work. Hyper-V VMs have a boot order set in the machine properties (there's no BIOS options or anything like that).

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Thanks for the reply - okay I have a WinPE CD, but how do I get the Hyper-V VM to boot from it? When I turn on the VM with my WinPE CD in the host machine's CD drive, it just ignores it and boots normally. – DownChapel Aug 17 '10 at 17:49
You don't need an actual CD, you just need the ISO. Put the ISO on the Hyper-V host's C: drive (or whatever physical drive). Pull up the VM's Settings in the Hyper-V Manager, map the DVD drive to the ISO you copied. Under the BIOS section change the boot order so CD comes before IDE. Start the VM. – Chris S Aug 17 '10 at 18:05
Excellent - that worked great thanks. I created my ISO using the oscdimg exe and attached the ISO as described and it now boots into Win PE. – DownChapel Aug 17 '10 at 18:33

I work as a desktop administrator in an enterprise shop that has used LANDesk for imaging. When i first started, we had over 140 images to maintain. The images where supposed to be updated every three months.

I started working on a solution to build what some refer to as a golden or master image. LANDesk uses HII (Hardware independent imaging) and provisioning to deploy images and install applications. I will tell you that i did not have much luck completing this goal using LANDesk. A lot of the issue with LANDesk is there is very little documentation or training unless you attend a boot camp.

I started to implement MDT (Microsoft Deployment toolkit) in our shop to deploy thin images in a .wim format captured from a physical device to different devices with a short learning curve.

Since then I have begun using a server 2008 R2 server with Hyper-V to build a thin image to build and maintain our images. I did not start with Hyper-V, I started with VMWare Workstation 8 and found a few issues, then moved to Virtual box and found that there are a lot of great features and even more issues than workstation 8.

This example is in a Production environment with Windows AIK, Microsoft Deployment Toolkit installed on a technicians Computer/Server 2008R2 with Hyper-V enabled.

Create a virtual machine with a 40 - 50 GB VHD. Attach a Lite Touch ISO to the DVD drive. boot and run the task sequence to install a out of the box installation of a windows client. At the setup screen when prompted for user name, hit CTR+Shift+F3 to enter audit mode in windows 7. Make required changes to the default user profile. Map a network drive back to the deployment share and start the litetouch.wsf script.

Run the sysprep and capture sequence for the OS. ( I do not capture the image using MDT, It works just fine. The issue is that it will generally take at least four times the amount of time that it would take to capture the computer if using the server to mount the virtual harddrive and use imagex.exe to capture the image from a command line.)

In Microsoft deployment toolkit, I will then import the image and create a Task sequence where i can use Selection profiles to install required applications and inject the required drivers.

If this is a large deployment, I wil then sysprep the computer using a custom unattend.xml and capture it using landesk. This may be the process until i figure out how to have multiple pxe reps on the same subnet.

Even just using MDT, the days of inserting installation media to isntall an os on a computer. Then install the correct drivers, updates and so on are long gone. Now these can all be loaded independently into Microsoft deployment toolkit where you can select the os, the required drivers, have the updates installed at setup and be ready to make any required changes that can or are not worth scripting. Now I only maintain a total of twelve vm's that we use for our images. Any time that we get a new device i can have it ready for deployment within two hours and only takes me about ten to fifteen minutes to build the task sequence and select the required applications.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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Look into Microsoft Deployment Toolkit.
You can create a lite touch install of the OS, slipstream updates into your source and script application installs so during the machine setup you can select which apps you want to load.
Tool is free, does have a bit of a learning curve.

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It requires that apps can be installed from the command line without user interaction; and there's plenty of apps that can't do that. It's usually just easier to create a reference image from an actual installation and modify that with updates using MDT2010. – Chris S Aug 17 '10 at 18:07

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