Automating Windows 7 Installation [2]

Having completed my reference computer setup I decided to jump in boots and all to the task of getting this computer imaged. Starting at Part 11 of the series at I began with executing the script LiteTouch.vbs. In practice I have to use RunAs /user:<username> in order to log on to the deployment share (and it looks like it will only run on a domain joined machine if you are using a domain server). On subsequent attempts I used a command prompt that I had run as Administrator and there was no need to use RunAs.

This first attempt was unsuccessful after the sysprep was completed (it looks like the Sysprep worked OK). That was because in skimming through the previous steps I had missed the necessity to update my deployment share, which installs the Windows PE images that LiteTouch needs in order to reboot the computer and complete the capture. The next problem, which is well known in the MDT development community, is the loss of a network connection after Sysprepping. This is because the sysprep stage causes the network to become disconnected, which is in part due to conflicts with Symantec Endpoint Protection (in our case and in other cases). Microsoft is well aware of this situation and is addressing it in Update 1 of MDT 2010, currently in beta. So my next step was to obtain this update from Microsoft Connect for further testing. A key change in the deployment sequence is to apply the Windows PE boot image before the Sysprep stage. This means that the reference system can be rebooted immediately after completing the Sysprep, instead of trying to continue over the network share when it has effectively lost connectivity, as happened previously.

This time around it has worked as expected. After Sysprep the reference computer automatically rebooted into Windows PE using their custom MDT image, and has created the WIM file for this operating system image. The slowest part of this is that last step – it is to be expected that the process of making an image of the computer is a relatively slow step. I couldn’t really say how it compares to Ghost in speed terms. But it seemed to get this part done relatively quickly. The capture image size was around 9.5 GB and I would say the whole capture was completed in about 1 hour. After the capture task has completed, the next step is to import the captured computer image as described in Step 2 of Part 10 of the series, then deploy the image to a target PC. The deployment to a target was also successfully completed.

So far, the use of MDT is a huge step up from my previous efforts using a manual sysprep and imagex on Vista and looks to be the way to go with Windows 7 imaging for us in the future.