As I previously mentioned I am putting together a Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) environment to enable me to rebuild my Vista machines at will.
I now have a Windows 2008 Server machine running inside of Virtual PC that is a self contained MDT environment.
To do this I had to configure the Server with the following services.
- Active Directory - I promoted it to a domain controller in its own domain.
- DNS - required by AD
- DHCP - to give out addresses, required by WDS.
- Windows Deployment Services (WDS) - this is an optional Windows Component you can add on Windows Server. WDS responds to network boot PXE requests from clients and sends them a Windows Pre-installation Environment (PE) boot image.
There are a number of other components that MDT needs to be able to deploy anything, but it is ridiculously easy to add these in. The main management console of MDT is the Deployment Workbench, which contains a node in the navigation pane called components. Clicking on that shows the current install status of the various things you need and you can download and install them inside the Deployment Workbench. Click the image below to see what this looks like.
Once all the required software is in place it is a matter of creating a distribution share, adding the OS images (which you can do by right clicking Operating Systems and selecting New.. You then just pop in the CD and follow the prompts in the wizard.) and creating a build.
Another cool thing with MDT is you can import drivers in much the same way as operating systems. These can be added to the build so that they are inject into the image before the hardware detection takes place, so if you have more recent drivers than those included with Vista you can insert them and it will never load the older driver. Much cleaner.
To do this you right click on the Out-of-Box drivers node in the Deployment Workbench and select New... This will launch a driver import wizard.
You fill in a path and optionally assign one or more groups that the drivers will belong to and then click Finish. MDT will search the directory and any sub directories and import any drivers it finds. Also by default, when you build your boot image it will include all Network and Storage drivers so that you should have the bare requirements to perform a network install once the Windows PE image boots.
I've got my build going on the Acer laptop I've been testing against to the base OS level with no input required from me beyond pressing F12 to initiate the network boot. Now it is time to start working on the applications.
The MDT Team has a blog - so if you want to find out more that might be a good place to start.