Getting started with WDS

Windows Deployment Services is Microsoft’s replacement for RIS (Remote Install Services). WDS development has been driven by the advent of Windows Vista; however, it is also capable of deploying Windows XP to client PCs. WDS is available as an update to Windows Server 2003 (in Service Pack 2) and will also be deployed with Windows Server 2008.

This week I was creating a new image for Windows XP using RIS, but because of an issue that RIS threw up, I decided I would also start to look at WDS. There are several documents that pertain to WDS that are revelant:

At this time it might be just as easy to get RIS to make the image as usual and then convert it to WDS using the tools provided. The difficulty of the learning curve right now is in figuring out exactly how to create the image from the reference computer. From documentation I already have I know how to Sysprep (based on its similarities to Riprep). So far as I can tell the next step is to PXE boot the client, then you have to have a Capture image already set up. As far as I can tell you need a WinPE capture image created first, which does the capture back to WDS of what is called an Install Image. Right now, though, I don’t have any capture images (or boot images) on my WDS server. So I’d have to get the right one there first.

The other option is to use the tools supplied to create an existing RIS image. WDS Management as deployed on the server provides this in the GUI or the WDSUTIL command line tool can be used to do it.

So the next step is to figure out where to get a capture image from. In the meantime I still have my RIS image that I created from my reference machine, and therefore the option of creating the WDS image directly from the RIS image.