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Deploying Vista to VMware Test box and Dell 755

After we configured MDT for our deployment we were ready to start testing the deployment.  This test was going to to be on the physical hardware that we would later roll Vista out to and also a VMWare ESX test machine.  The VMWare box was to limit the trips over to the hardware while we were ironing out the bumps.  We deployed Vista 32 bit in this scenario.

After you have your deployment setup in MDT you next need to select your boot image in WDS that you just created by updating your MDT Deployment Point. This boot image is located in the Deployment Point Share distributionbootlitetouchPE_x86.wim


Once your boot image is added you are ready to start your client machine and PXE boot the device.  (normally F12).

Once the PXE boot process starts, you will have to hit F12 a second time and then you should see windowsPE start up.  If all is configured correctly you should get the Task Sequence dialog box where you can select your Task Sequence you would like to perform in our case Vista 32 bit install.


Next You will be prompted to choose the applications that you want to install during the OS installation.  The applications are Displayed and Installed in the order in which you added them to MDT.


After you select the applications you want, select next and the process starts… after a few minutes the OS is installed, and you are looking at your desktop of a machined joined to the domain.

Some  “Got-Ya’s” general and Dell 755 specific.

SQL Database
Quite a few blogs indicate that you need to use the SQL Database in conjunction with MDT.  After talking with Tanner at Microsoft this is not needed in an organization with a couple hundred clients being installed from MDT, especially when you are managing just 5-10 flavors of workstations.

When we first booted our Virtual machine the LiteTouch environment started but we were stuck at a command prompt.  This was because of some issues with the database.  Once we removed the dependencies on the database we were able to move forward.

After using ghost for so may years we were thinking of Multi-Cast in the Ghost traditional sense and had enabled Multi-Cast in MDT and WDS.  This is actually not needed since our volume is small enough and WDS Multi-Cast works very differently.  WDS Multicast starts with the first client connection, it doesn’t wait until you tell it to ‘go’ like Ghost, so then when the next client connects it picks up where the first deployment already in progress is and then the third the same… After the first deployment is done number 2 picks up at the start and catches what it ‘missed’ and then the same for number 3.  With scenarios with only a couple hundred clients Muli-Cast isn’t needed.

WindowsPE Boot Error Dell 755 Specific “Got-ya”
During the start up of WinowsPE on the Dell 755 the clients would display a error: “A connection to the deployment share (servernamedistribution$) could not be made.  The deployment will not proceed.  Can not reach DeployRoot. Possible Cause: Network routing error or Network Configuration error.
We found two solutions… one to add more time for the client machine to get an IP address from the server by editing the StartNet.cmd file in the WIM or to connect the Dell755 to a 3com switch rather than thru a linksys switch.  Finding a switch on the network where the install would work from is a much easier solution than rebuilding your WIM file every time you update it.  NOTE: when you update the WIM in MDT it rewrites your boot image and you loose any changes that you have made to the StartNet.cmd.

To update the StartNet.cmd:
Run the following on your server:

Then go to the location that you extracted the files and then go to the WindowsSystem32 and edit the startnet.cmd file to ping the WDS Server x number of times (where x is the amount of time you need to get an IP, in our case it was about one ping to the server 8-12 pings UPDATED 10/8/08).

After you have edited the file run the following on the server:

And don’t forget every time you Update MDT you will have to update your startnet.cmd file.

Errors Installing Applications
When installing applications with LiteTouch we had to play around with the sequence to get it to install without any issues.  There were 4 major bumps we had to figure out to make the Applications deploy without any issues.

  • Don’t include SP1 for Office 2007 as part of the installation.  Office 2007 gives you the ability to ‘package’ updates when you install Office by putting those packages in the Updates folder of your installation source.  The Office 2007 install worked some times, but then would error out causing all the other applications to fail that were later in the sequence.  Once SP1 for Office was removed it worked without an issue.
  • Adobe Reader and Flash would require user intervention stopping the deployment.  Adobe provides a customization tool called Adobe Customization Wizard 9 it is very similar to the Office OCT tool to but it allows you to deploy Acrobat and Reader.  After you customize the deployments you are able to run Acrobat or Reader installs silently.
  • Don’t install flash from MSI, rather use the .exe installer with the /s switch to install silently.  For some reason MDT doesn’t deploy .msi installers well without changing the command line for the installer.  It was easier to not mess with .msi installers and just use the exe installer.  If you do have to install an application from .msi with MDT then you should plan to run the msi with the following:Command Line: msiexec /i “AppInstaller.msi” /qn from the source directory that contains the installer.
  • The last issue is another Dell 755 specific “Got-Ya”.  The applications fail when you are installing them on a Dell 755 because there is no driver loaded by default for the SM Bus Controller.  Even though you add those drivers with the other Dell 755 drivers they didn’t load.  After looking into this with Tanner and Chuck from Microsoft we found that the Chipset driver for this dell is actually an application that extracts and installs the drivers, so the simple downloaded files don’t have the needed .dlls for MDT to pick up the drivers, even after you decompress the R174616.exe file from Dell.  The solution is to run the Intel – Driver (v.,A12) that you download from dell with a couple switches to give you an extracted version of the driver that MDT can import.  Once you download R174616.exe and extracted it (default locati
    on is c:delldriversR174616) run setup.exe -a -a -p c:extractINF to extract the drivers to c:extractinf.  After you have extracted the driver you n
    eed to add this directory to the OOBD list in MDT, then Update your Deployment Point and reboot the client.  Your applications should install as expected.


See other Posts on Vista Deployment with MDT:

Installing and Configuring MDT

The install and configuration process for MDT (Microsoft Deployment Tool Kit) is fairly well documented.

At the time of this post version 4.2 was the latest and greatest version of MDT and can be Downloaded from Microsoft.  Also a good resource for information on MDT is the Optional – MDT Print-Ready Documentation that can be downloaded from the same page.

Items you need before you can begin:

Because of our problems in having success building the answer files to automated the OS deployment from WDS we have elected in our configuration to use WDS merely as a PXE boot server, so when you enable the service on your server there is little configuration for WDS since the LiteTouch (MDT) scripting will take care of everything for us.

Installing WDS:
You can download the Step-By-Step guide for WDS from Microsoft technet.  This document is a good resource for installing and setting up WDS.  Since we are using MDT we only needed to follow the first 10 pages, but the rest is a good resource to understand how WDS works.

At the first launch of the WDS console, you will have to configure the server. This will create and populate a folder called RemoteInstall. This folder is shared as reminst. It is recommended not to store this folder on the system partition.  In our case we mounted an iSCSI volume for storing our deployment data.

You can run WDS on the same server as your DHCP Server but you will have to modify which ports that server listens on.. In our case WDS and DHCP are on two separate servers so no worries there.

Lastly check to make sure that you are accepting all PXE boot requests.  This can be configured in the Server properties under the PXE Response Settings.  Since a boot image will only be active for us when we are deploying an OS to machines there isn’t a risk of unauthorized access.

Installing WAIK 1.1:

From MS’s Site:The Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK) is designed to help corporate IT professionals customize and deploy the Microsoft Windows Vista™ family of operation systems. By using Windows AIK, you can perform unattended Windows installations, capture Windows images with ImageX, and create Windows PE images.

You must have WAIK installed prior to installing MDT, we won’t use it directly with MDT since LiteTouch configures the install for us, but you have to have it as a pre-req for installing MDT.

Installing MDT:

From MS’s Site: Microsoft Deployment Toolkit technologies eliminate interaction time required to install desktop and server operating systems. Interaction at the targeted computer may take a few moments using the Lite Touch Installation (LTI) method or it can be completely automated using Zero Touch Installation (ZTI). Zero Touch Installation utilizes Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2007 or Systems Management Server 2003 with the Operating System Deployment Feature Pack. Lite Touch Installation can be used when software distribution tools are not in place.

Once MDT is installed open the Deployment Workbench MMC console. and Click on Distribution Share.  You will see a display of the tasks that need completed in order to deploy a workstation with MDT.


OS FILES – Next you need to add the operating systems you want to deploy (it can be either or both 32 bit and 64 bit OS) by mounting the ISO or inserting the DVD of the media in the server.  Right click Operating Systems and click New. Select Full set of source files. Give the drive letter of your OS DVD or mount iso file, and Finish. This takes a bit, so its a good time for a break here.

APPLICTATIONS – After you have imported the OS you will need to add any applications that you would like to install.When you right click applications and choose new you will have the choice of where your source files live.  For our applications we did install sources from a network file share.  Since its later going to map a drive to this location during the install its important to use the FQDN for this rather than a mapped network drive letter.

For Office 2007 applications you can have the installer run silently with the key embed by using the Office Customization tool.  To launch the OCT run the application installer with the  admin switch  (setup.exe /admin).  If you add the Office 2007 application from CD the customize tool is a tab later in the applications but it was easier to use the network share already configured.

Drivers  – Next you can add any drivers needed fort your specific hardware and group them by that model.

Task Sequence - After you have added your OS, Apps and Drivers you are ready to build the instructions on how you would like the OS to be deployed.  Building the task sequence builds the OS install instructions including the infamous unattend.xml.

Basic Task sequence instructions are:

-Click New in the Task Sequences context menu and fill in the General Settings. Assign your Task sequence ID, Task sequence name, and Task sequence comments.
-On the Select Template screen, select the Standard Client Task Sequence
-On the Select OS screen, select the OS you added in the Operating Systems
-On the Specify Product Key screen, type in your Product Key or Do not specify a product key at this time  if you are using a KMS to activate your OS.
-On the OS Settings screen, fill in your organization name and a home page for IE.
-On the Admin Password screen, type the local admin password of the target computer.

Deployment Point – the last step is setting up your deployment point, this is the network share where the client machines will connect to the server to pull the customized installation.

Basic steps are:
- Right click on Deployment Point and choose new.
- Choose a lab deployment point
- Name the Deployment Point (in our case Install and Build)
- Don’t Allow users to select apps on upgrade
- Don’t ask for a image to be captured
- Don’t set the local admin password
- Don’t ask for product key
- On network share use the defaults
- Don’t configure the user state.

Now that MDT is setup we need to make a few more final changes so that the OS installation runs with minimal user intervention.  This is done by editing the Bootstrap.ini and Customsettings.ini files.  A good reference of the settings that can be configured by these files can be found here in the Property Reference Guide.

Our CustomSettings.ini and bootstrap.ini files are configured so that we only have to answer two quest
ions while the OS is installing 1. Which OS to install and 2. Which applications we want installed.  Our .ini files look&nb
sp; like this:

Custom Settings.ini


UserID=The user credentials for accessing network resources.
UserDomain=The domain in which a user’s credentials (specified in UserID) exist.
UserPassword=The password for user credentials specified in UserID.
TimeZoneName=Central Standard Time
OrgName=Orgainzation Name Here
JoinDomain=The domain that the target computer joins after the target operating system is deployed
DomainAdmin=The account is used to join the computer to a domain.
DomainAdminDomain=The domain in which a user’s credentials (specified in DomainAdmin) exist
DomainAdminPassword=Password used to join the computer to the domain
InputLocale= en-US


UserDomain=The domain in which a user’s credentials (specified in UserID) exist.
UserID=The user credentials for accessing network resources.
UserPassword=The password for user credentials specified in UserID.

***Note UserDomain, ID and Password are in bootstrap.ini AND customsettings without these in both places you are prompted for credentials when you first boot into WindowsPE.

After you are ready to deploy your OS right click on your Deployment Point and choose UPDATE.  This builds the WIM file that you will boot from.

See other Posts on Vista Deployment with MDT:

Vista Deployment

For the past few months it has been our plan to roll out Vista to our IT staff to start learning and becoming familiar with Vista.  Part of this planning has been to figure out how to customize and automate the roll out process.  After a bit of reading we decided that Windows Deployment Services was the best route to go rather than continuing to use Ghost to deploy our machines.  A large factor to this is WDS being free.

In the next few posts I will document our configuration and the tips and tricks we learned along the way.  This project only included one support case with Microsoft and a couple dents in the walls from my head banging activities.

Or Project Goal was to find a way to deploy vista with our Enterprise Open license on each machine with a basic set of applications that all our users will use.  In Vista the answer files for sysprep are quite a bit more involved than they were in deploying XP so using the Microsoft solution to deploy the OS seemed to be more logical than a Hybrid between Ghost and Sysprep.

Part 1:Installing WDS

Installing Windows Deployment Services is a very straight forward process, but you have to decided if you want to do the installation on a Windows 2003 server or a W2k8 server.  There are some new features installing on a 2008 server and since we are moving that way it made sense to roll this new server out as a 2008 box.

We downloaded the Step by step guide to Windows Deployment services. This document was a good resource to answer a lot of the questions about what each aspect of the service was doing.  This document includes good step by step instructions to capture a image of a workstation and then push it out to a second machine.

The catch with this process was the creating of the answer files.  When you are using WDS you boot into WindowPE which allows you to perform functions like format, partition and install the OS.  WindowsPE requires answer files for specific functions as well as the OS requiring an answer file.

There appear to be a vast number of resources on these answer files but some turn out to be very confusing.  MS provides a tool called the Windows Automated Installation Kit (Windows AIK). The WAIK is designed to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), system builders, and corporate IT professionals deploy Windows onto new hardware. The Windows AIK is a set of deployment tools supporting the latest release of Windows. The WAIK Includes Windows System Image Manger which is a GUI that creates the unattend answer files for the deployment of the OS.

One major issue with our answer files we found out later down the road you, which is contrary to all the documentation that we read you cannot partition an drive and format with that partition to 100%, you have to give a specific variable to the size you want the partition to be.  (per Tanner at MS, more on that later)

After fighting with the answer files for a while I turned to ITdiscuss.org and the CITRT IRC channel.  Micheal Sainz brought MDT to my radar.  MDT,  Microsoft Deployment Tool kit, is a great tool for prepping the OS with applications, drivers and updates and the MDT scripts the OS installation that can be done from disk or a PXE boot server.

So here are the details of the process:

ACS Iphone Application Part 2 – Where’s the Love?”

OpeningSo I was celebrating the launch of the iPhone App last week but I need to note some constructive criticism for the ACS team… The search functionality is great, except you can’t search for one person by their full name you can only search by last name.  After talking with R&D they are aware of the bug that returns results “NULL” “NULL” when you search on a first name last name or Last Name,First name.  It sounds like soon an update will be released that will search First, Last and Goes by Names and return those results correctly… sounds like a much better solution… so we’ll wait and see.


windows-mobile-60-product-guide But my bigger concern is where is the love for windows mobile devices?  Why do I have to go down the hall to use Kirt’s iPhone to try out the new application?  If you can program a tool for iPhone then where is the Windows Mobile Application?





And a final question for this post… where is the Exchange Synchronization tool that was shared at the Spring convention?  Its been several months and we are still “wishing for more”.  To be able to access this information from Outlook would be a huge win for Northwoods and many other ministries… so where is the Love ACS?

ACS Webinar Guest Appearance

I had some great fun working with the team from ACS last week.  Darci Shelley (ACS R&D Lead) and the ACS team asked that I be a special guest on the MegaChurch Team Webinar and since I am always up for trying out something new I agreed to participate.

For the past few months they have been building the community and communication lines between the MegaChurch segment of the company’s customers thru webinars twice each month.  The webinars have included product road maps, current features and new features in the latest release of the software.

Picture 8 This week’s webinar focused on the Registration component of Access ACS, the updates to this component are expected to release in November and this includes some great interaction between Registrations and Facility Scheduler.  We have been working with the R&D team for 9 months on this integration are very excited to see it come to market.  After these changes are in place we will be moving back over to the ACS Registration suite from ServicU.  This progress will take us one step further in fully defining the work flow for organizing, scheduling, managing and hosting events for our ministries… and a large portion of that process will be automated.

Darci asked me to be on the webinar to talk about how ACS and Northwoods have worked together to improve this part of the product line and how it is improving our workflow.

Picture 14

It was a lot of fun to announce live the branding Northwoods.ME for our AccessACS (ACS on the web) portal and to be part of the ACS iPhone application announcement,  ACS ChurchLife!, all on the webinar!

I have said it before, ACS has the right people on their team and they continue to impress me.  I am continually reminded they are the right team at the right time for the needs of our ministry! 

I had a great time working thru the technical challenges of a live webcast from multiple sites with the ACS team.  I got to learn a lot about AdobeConnect, which continues to impress me.  We used our web cam and ACS made me a co-presenter and I was able to stream my video and audio and interact with the ACS team.

If you are an ACS customer and missed the webinar check it out in your client portal.

If you aren’t an ACS customer and you are just curious about the webinar and want to check out the recording post a comment and i’ll send you a link to watch the recording.

ACS Technologies iPhone Application

ACS released their iPhone application today.  The application allows you to search contact information out of your Access ACS database from the handset. 

The application is called ACS Church Life.


The search functions are very quick and from the search results you can easily email or call any contact.


Or map the addresses of the contacts.


I talked with the R&D team at ACS today and they are continuing development to improve the iPhone app.  The next addition to the iPhone app will be the ability to search events out of Facility Scheduler, so you can check the room and other information about your event.  Down the road it will even include access to connections and other modules in the ACS product suite.  This would allow pastors or others who need to note information about a hospital visit, phone call or other interaction with an attendee to make those notes in a secure location while out of the office and that information becomes immediately available to the teams who need it.

Great Job on a cool tool!

CITRT & MinistryTech Discount Code

A special discount code is being offered to all those invovled in the CITRT who are planning to attend MinistryTech/Spring CITRT 2008.

If you REGISTER before September 30, use the coupon code ‘CITRT’ for an ADDITIONAL 25% off the early bird rates!

CITRT and MinistryTech Spring 2008

The Church IT RoundTable (CITRT) is excited to announce a partnership with MinistryTECH to combine the Spring 2009 Church IT National RoundTable with MinistryTECH, to be held April 23-24, 2009 at Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs.  We are collaborating with Terrell Sanders of MinistryTECH to plan the conference so that it includes the peer learning, community, and inspiration that are the hallmarks of the CITRT.  The combined event will have keynote sessions, breakout sessions, RoundTable sessions, a vendor fair, and ministry tours.  Mark your calendars now for an awesome time next April in Colorado Springs!

If you REGISTER before Sept 30th and use the coupon code ‘CITRT’ your early bird rate will be discounted by and additional 25%! 

Some Vendor Love

Recently we have started doing a little business with Zones (including the $300 Sony laptop Deal) and while talking to our rep Nathan I was giving him a hard time and said he should be showing us more love… He asked if a box of widgets was a good first step and we said we love free stuff so a few day later a box arrived with some cool widgets… including my favorites.. the Crucial Memory Hog and the Kaspersky Dancing robot.


Humongo Whiteboard on the Cheap Part 2

To answer some questions about our White board here is part 2 of the Humongo White board post.

What surface did you paint the Whiteboard on? 
The WhiteBoard paint can be painted on any surface.  If it is a new drywall wall you should plan to put the first coat of primier on first.  If it already has paint, just scuff up the exisiting paint, clean the dust and start painting.

Is it Spray Paint?: No, you use a foam roller to apply the paint.