I've been digging around and getting WDS, WAIK, and the Deployment Workbench all configured and installed on a server we'll be using to roll images out to classrooms.

I want to make sure I understand the process right, and am hoping the SF community can help point out any flaws in my understanding of the basic workflow. I've gotten the server to respond to a PXE client, and load the OS, but it was basically just running the installer across the network. Handy, but not the streamlining we're looking for.

We have 60 identical machines that will be a renderfarm. I've got the motherboard SATA drivers injected successfully into my BOOT.WIM, so I don't need to load drivers. I'm not trying to push out a windows inatller, though, so much as push out a fully configured machine to 60 units.

Here's the flow, as I understand it.

1) Build up a vanilla machine that will serve as the template, manually. Load Windows 7, load Maya, load Qube, load CS5, registering all these apps using our volume licenses (or network license server configurations, as needed).

2) Go ahead and activate windows using our MAK key, but DON'T join it to the domain yet.

3) run sysprep, and get the box booted into Audit mode, to strip off the default local user account that was setup during the install of 7.

4) boot to a (large) flash drive that contains a PE of Win7. Run ImageX from this flash drive, and slurp the WIM to the USB drive.

5) load that WIM into WDS, and name it something creative (RENDERFARM IMAGE). Create a multicast stream for the WIM.

6) Load up WAIK, and make an unattended Answer File for the install (providing domain joiner credentials, etc).

7) boot up each machine, and hit F12 to force the netboot for this bootup.

8) Miller time?

I know I'm missing a step or two in there, and am hoping anyone that has done this kind of thing can help pointing out where I'm missing step 7a or something? I honestly don't see how the Deployment Workbench fits into this... is that because I'll be building my initial image manually? The Workbench, from what I understand, can build workflows (similar to Deploy Studio) that loads the OS, then manually runs installers one after the other. I'm more interested in just pushing out an already configured image, and drivers and whatnot won't change, because the 60 boxes are identical.

If anyone can see any glaring errors, or has any experience with this, with caveats to look out for, any feedback would be awesome.


  • If you prefer, you can just pxe boot the finished image and do your slurping (couldn't resist) over the network. – Kara Marfia Sep 26 '10 at 22:29
  • Thanks Kara; but I guess my question is this: I can fully load up an OS install with all kinds of apps, and THEN slurp it, right? So far I've only done test OS installs. There's nothing stopping me from trying it out, except that I'm busy handling normal tickets all the time... but I guess I'll do an OS install, load CS5, then slurp that (word of the day), and push it out for a trial. THEN I know the process regardless of the number of apps installed. Deployment Workbench is still mysteriously silent, but I guess it just ins't needed for what I'm doing. – Ixobelle Sep 27 '10 at 0:28

I'm a little late to the punch, but here's a suggestion if this comes up in the future. Create a machine exactly how you want it under windows 7 and just use the backup/recovery option to create an image with all your apps/etc where you want them. Load all of your machines via WDS using the defualt windows7 image. Then, manually at each machine you can set to restore from image, restart the machine and point to the file location of the image you saved through backup/recovery. That's it.

Takes a few extra key strokes from each computer, but would solve your headache setting up the image in WDS.

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