I met someone recently who is in a similar IT position looking for some advice with respect to Operating System Deployments (OSD) – both bare metal and upgrades – and application packaging & deployments. I recommended leveraging the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) for imaging and combining it with the PowerShell App Deployment Toolkit (PSADT) to help accomplish his goals. Although he had used MDT, he wasn’t as experienced with it as I was and so was looking for some guidance which I was happy to do.
Now, I may not be a world renowned expert like some people (hint: see the Resources page) but I can hold my own, and this was an excellent opportunity for me to go over the basics of image building with my new friend.
So over the next few weeks I’ll be going over the basics of building an MDT imaging lab.
One more thing…
I don’t think there’s anything new here. In fact, this is mostly a consolidation of well known & documented steps in addition to popular or leading practices recommended by those who share a passion for imaging. So aside for compiling some of these ideas I can’t possibly take all the credit. Because lots of these steps are now ingrained in my process, I may not be able to cite references to where the original idea came from. Not trying to steal thunder or take credit away from anyone where it’s due; I just didn’t necessarily catalog the URL or Tweet of every process, tip or trick I’ve come across for the last 5 or so years.
If you’re a seasoned MDT Guru, you’re probably going to find this a little ho-hum elementary. So while you’re welcome to read on, please curb your expectations. 🙂
Living Table of Contents
- MDT Tutorial: Prologue & Requirements
- MDT Tutorial Part 1: Installation
- MDT Tutorial Part 2: Initial Configuration
- MDT Tutorial Part 3: Imaging
- MDT Tutorial Part 4: CustomSettings.ini
- MDT Tutorial Part 5: Bootstrap.ini
- MDT Tutorial Part 6: Customizing Boot Media
- MDT Tutorial Part 7: Customizing Base MDT Template & ADK WinPE Template WIM
- MDT Tutorial Part 8: Unattend.xml
- MDT Tutorial Part 9: Logging
- MDT Tutorial Part 10: CustomSettings.ini Validation Testing & Troubleshooting Part 1
- MDT Tutorial Part 11: Troubleshooting Part 2: Windows could not parse or process unattend answer file [C:\windows\Panther\unattend.xml] for pass [specialize]. The answer file is invalid.
- MDT Tutorial Part 11: Troubleshooting Part 3: Windows could not parse or process unattend answer file [C:\windows\Panther\unattend.xml] for pass [specialize]. The answer file is invalid.
- MDT Tutorial Part 11: Troubleshooting Part 4: Task Sequence Variable is Being Overwritten
- MDT Tutorial Part 11: Troubleshooting Part 5: Invalid DeploymentType value “” specified. The deployment will not proceed.
- MDT Tutorial Part 11: Troubleshooting Part 6: Unable to mount the WIM, so the update process cannot continue
- MDT Tutorial Part 11: Troubleshooting Part 7: Non-Fatal OSD Errors & Warnings
Ideally you want a beefy machine to spin up some VM’s, and it doesn’t have to be a Dell R730xd. In fact, before I got a dedicated machine, I used a laptop with 8GB of RAM and a ~200GB or so SSD. These days it’s not uncommon for a machine to have 12-16GB of RAM and 256GB SSD so I’m thinking that’s a realistic and achievable goal. Just remember: Can’t have too much RAM but on the storage front if SSD is a premium, put your VM’s on the SSD and the OS and Deployment Share on mechanical/spindle disks. You could get creative by using USB drives (thumb or external) or even SD cards. Go Nuts!
Acceptable Minimum for Educational Purposes
While you can use physical assets for testing, it’s not leading practice and will require some extra work with drivers. That said, if you don’t have access to beefy hardware for creating Virtual Machines, but have a handful of physical assets at your disposal, grab a few machines and get them setup on a gigabit switch with network access.
- Windows 10 1511, 1607 and/or 1703 ISO’s preferably from VL or MSDN
- Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit (ADK)
- Run the installation to only pre-download the files locally
- Download the patch here to resolve a small bug.
- Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)
- If you have SA: Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)
Be it a physical or virtual machine, install the OS of your choice on your designated MDT server. At this time, OS selection doesn’t matter so it could be a licensed or evaluation copy of Server 2012 R2, Server 2016 or Windows 10. Once you install the OS on the MDT server, install .NET 3.5, rename it to something appreciable, like MDTServer, create a workgroup and patch the machine.
Once you have everything all setup, you’re ready to move forward!
Good Providence to you as you get this all setup!