Designing a Server Deployment Infrastructure with WDS


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In this beginners step by step guide I discuss the basic settings of Windows Deployment Services WDS. The goal of WDS is to deploy servers automatically. WDS allows you to automatically deploy a operating system to a computer via PXE Boot. First it receives the boot image, which loads a Mini-OS (Windows PE) and from that the installation of the main image is started.

WDS is mainly for bare metal deploying. That means machines, where nothing is installed before. For Virtual Machines you would probably use SCVMM. WDS stands for Windows Deployment Services.

WDS can deploy WIM and VHD images.

WIM

WIM files are images which are customizable with the dism command. You can i. E. deploy patches when they come out to the imag.

VHD

VHD are Virtual Hard Drives. They do not necessary have something to do with virtual machines or server virtualization.

Installation of WDS

WDS can be installed via Server Manager or Powershell.

Show current status of WDS

get-WindowsFeature | where Name -like "WDS*"

Install WDS an Components

Install-WindowsFeature -Name WDS,WDS-Deployment,WDS-Transport,WDS-AdminPack
Installing WDS via PowerShell

WDS Options

WDS Full Server

  • Active Directory integrated (needs AD, DHCP, DNS, PXE)
  • Transport modes of WDS Full Server
    • Unicast – to single machine
    • Multicast – streams the images, multiple machines can receive them

Standolone

  • Only includes Subset of the WDS services
  • No dependencies to AD
  • Supports multicast only

WDS and non Microsoft DHCP

Basic setup of WDS server

Set the following option if you use WDS with a no Microsoft DHCP:

  • Not listen on port 67 UDP
  • Set DHCP option number 60 to all scope – it defines where a computer can find the PXE

Basic steps in WDS

Start the Windows Deployment Services console

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Right click on your server and choose “Configure Server”

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

The Windows Deployment Service Configuration Wizard comes up. Read the text an click “Next”.

Choose “Integrated with Active Directory” and click “Next”.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Choose the path where you want to keep the images. Make shure that you have enought space on the selected Volume. Click “Next”.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

If your DHCP is on the same computer you see the following dialog:

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Click “Next”.




The following dialog “PXE Server Initial Settings” is important. Most people will choose the Option “Respond only to known client computers”. Whith this option set you have to tell the Windows Deployment Services, which devices could be installed. If you would choose “Respond to all client computers” every person in your company could connect a PXE-enabled computer to the lan and install it via WDS. Therefore this option should only be used with the “Require administrator approval…” suboption activated.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Click “Next” and the service is beeing configured.

Adding images to the Windows Deployment Services server

Right click on “Boot Images” and choose “Add Boot Images”

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

In the next step you are prompted to choose the boot image. You can choose the “boot.wim” from the Sources Directory of a Windows Server 2012 R2 DVD.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Click “Next”.

Make shure thet you have choosen the correct image an click “Next” again.

Click “Next” again and the image file will be imported in the defined folder on your WDS server. Click “Finish” when the operation is complete.

Right click on “Install Images” and choose “Add Install Images”.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Click “Next”.

If prompted for define a “image group”

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Click “Next”.

In the next step you are prompted to choose the installation image. You can choose the “install.wim” from the Sources Directory of a Windows Server 2012 R2 DVD. Note that, that when you will use WDS in production, you won’t choose such a default image, but a customized one.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Click “Next”.

Choose the editions, which you want to offer in your WDS server in the next screen. I accidently used a 2008 DVD so you see a lot more editions in the next screenshot as when we have used a 2012 DVD, but this should work however.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Click “Next”. Check your selection in the “Summary” and click “Next” again. The image file will be imported in the defined folder on your WDS server. Click “Finish” when the operation is complete.

First test of the client installation of WDS

Make shure that you set the correct boot order for your new machine (NIC, PXE first). Start it. You will get the following screen. Dependig on what kind of machine you have it could look different.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Press F12 to start the installation.

After a while the actual installation of the OS begins.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Prestage your clients

The above paragraph is a bit faked. I turned the setting of the WDS server to “Respond to all client computers” to see what is happening. You can change it simly by right clicking your server in the WDS console and selecting “Properties”. As mentioned above, the recommended setting is “Repond only to known client computers”. Whith this set, your Client will show the following PXE error message: PXE-E55: ProxyDHCP service did not reply to request on port 4011

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS - PXE-E55: ProxyDHCP service did not reply to request on port 4011

To add a prestaged device right click on “Active Directory Prestaged Devices” and chosse “Add Device…”

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

You have to fill in at least the Name and the Device ID. Device ID is the MAC-Adress, which you can take from the PXE-Boot Screen.

Basic steps with Windows Deployment Services WDS

Click through the wizard. You do not have to select other informations than the defaults, if yo only have one WDS-Server. Remember this is only a beginners guide.

After finishing the wizard and rebooting the new machine, you should be able to go throught the WDS staging after typing F12 when prompted (see section above).

More information to Windows Deployment Services

The following Video from StormWindLive explains the WDS under Windows Server 2008

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