Most office have machines that host the operating system, such as Windows XP Professional, right inside the actual machine. This is called a local installation because it resides locally in the computer.
With Windows Servers, you can implement a different kind of hosting system. You can have hard drive-less workstations that boot right off the server operating system image files stored in a file server. This is called WDS or Windows Deployment Services.
Now although this may not be the right fit for every business, it certainly has its benefits. One of the benefits is increased security, as the local machine does not have anything stored in it, and another one is data is securely stored in the server and there is more fault tolerance.
The Windows Deployment Services (WDS) server role enables the deployment of Windows operating systems to client and server computers. Using WDS, computers without an operating system installed boot from the network, contact the WDS server, and download and install the operating system.
WDS uses disk images for the installation. An image is a single file containing the contents of an operating system installation. Image files have the .wim extension. There are four types of WDS images:
An install image is an image of the operating system that will be installed on client computers.
- A default install image (Install.wim) is included on the operating system DVD in the <DVDroot>\Sourcesfolder.
- Install.wim includes all editions of Windows Server 2008 or 2008 R2 within the single image file, including the Enterprise and Datacenter editions and the Server Core installations.
- When you add the install image in WDS, you identify the editions within the install image that are available for clients to install.
- When a client computer connects to the WDS server, and if there are multiple install images available or multiple editions within a single install image made available, a menu will be shown allowing the user to select the version and edition to install.
- Each install image is architecture specific. For example, you must have either the 32-bit, 64-bit or 64-bit Itanium version.
A boot image is a minimal operating system that is sent to the client when it first connects to the WDS server. Boot images are used as follows:
- During the boot process, the client computer locates the WDS server.
- The WDS server sends a boot image file to the client. The boot image file contains the Windows PE operating system and the WDS client software.
- The client installs the Windows PE operating system in the boot image and starts the WDS client.
- The WDS client retrieves a list of available full operating systems to install.
- The client computer downloads the appropriate install image and installs the full operating system.
When working with boot image files:
- A default boot image file (Boot.wim) is included on the operating system DVD in the <DVDroot>\Sourcesfolder.
- You can use multiple boot image files. If the WDS server has multiple boot image files, the client computer will display a menu of boot images to use.
Note: Client computers must support PXE boot (network boot) to use boot image files. PXE boot allows a computer without an operating system installed to locate and download the operating system through a network connection.
A capture boot image is an image that you use to create custom install images. To create a custom install image you do the following:
- Create the capture boot image from a regular boot image. The capture image includes Windows PE and the WDS Image Capture Wizard.
- Install the operating system on a reference computer. Once the operating system is installed, you can customize the installation as desired.
- On the reference computer, run the Sysprep utility. Sysprep prepares the computer so that an image can be created from the installation.
- Boot the reference computer from the network. When the computer connects to the WDS server, select the capture boot image you created earlier.
- After the computer boots, it runs the WDS Image Capture Wizard. Use the wizard to select the disk partition containing the operating system installation you want to capture, and a location to save the resulting image file.
- When the wizard completes, the resulting install image file is uploaded to the WDS server.
A discover image is a boot image that is placed on removable media (such as a CD, DVD, or USB drive) that can be used by non-PXE clients to boot and locate a WDS server. To use a discover image:
- Create the discover image from an existing boot image.
- Use the Microsoft Windows AIK tools to create an ISO image that contains the discover boot image.
- Burn the ISO image to disc. You must use a tool capable of creating a disc from an ISO image; simply copying the image to the disc will not work.
- Insert the media in the client computer. Boot the computer from the media.
- The computer installs the Windows PE operating system and connects to the WDS server. Select a desired install image to install the full operating system and complete the process.
A few more things to keep in mind…
Windows Server 2008 R2 supports IPv6 for deploying images, but does not support IPv6 for network booting.
Windows Server 2008 R2 also adds the ability to deploy virtual hard disk (.VHD) images under the following limited conditions:
- Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 Enterprise and Ultimate are the only supported operating systems.
- The WDSUtil command line utility must be used to import and configure .VHD images.
- Deployment must be automated, which requires creation of two unattend files. It is valid only for a physical computer (not a virtual machine).
- The .VHD image must contain only one OS and one partition. It may not contain applications or data (only the OS) or a 64-bit Windows edition partitioned with a GUID partition table (GPT).
THAT WRAPS IT UP here at Superforce for WDS Facts. We hope you enjoyed our article and found it useful, and please feel free to write any comments or if you have any questions. We will be more than happy to assist you.
If you need further technical support, you may visit our main technical support website at TECHSUPERFORCE!