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Windows Deployment Services
With increased dependency on information technology solutions, organizations are constantly looking for better ways to automate the OS installation process on their systems. Windows Deployment Services (also known as WDS) is a technology that enables you to deploy Windows operating system on computers without using physical media such as CDs or DVDs.
WDS reduces overall installation time by deploying Windows operating systems on multiple client systems simultaneously through network installation. WDS is a redesigned version of remote installation services (RIS) and offers many advantages over its predecessor. The following are advantages of Windows Deployment Services:
- WDS uses standard Windows setup technologies including image-based deployment, virtual hard disk (.vhd and .vhdx) image files, Windows Preinstallation Environment (Windows PE), and Windows image (.wim) files
- WDS-based installation is easy and efficient due to network-based installation
- WDS-based installation reduces the cost and complexity of installation
- There is support for mixed environments deployment
- There is support for both server and client computers installation
The following are the prerequisites for installing Windows Deployment Services:
- A Domain Controller or a Domain Member Server
- A properly configured Domain Name System (DNS) server to provide name resolution
- To provide IP address to the Preboot eXecution Environment (PXE) clients, a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server.
- A New Technology File System (NTFS) shared folder to store the WDS image files
- Clients with the PXE-enabled Local Area Network (LAN) adapter
The following are the step-by-step instructions for installing WDS:
- Open the ''Server Manager'' tool.
- On the dashboard, click on ''Add Roles and Features.''
- Read the important prerequisites displayed and click Next to continue.
- On the ''Select Installation Type'' page, choose role-based or feature-based installation and click Next.
- Now from server pool, select desired server as destination server for WDS and click Next.
- Choose WDS on the ''Select Server Roles'' page.
- Click on ''Add Features'' on the new window and click Next.
- On the WDS box, review the information presented and then click Next.
- Click Next on the ''Select Role Services'' box.
- Click Next (both deployment and transport server can have default settings).
- Click Install.
As installation can take several minutes to complete, you will have to wait for it to finish.
Configuration of WDS
The following are the step-by-step instructions for configuring WDS:
- Open the ''Server Manager'' dashboard.
- Click Tools, choose ''Windows Deployment Services'' and right click.
- Click ''Configure Server.''
- Read the important prerequisites and click Next.
- If you don't have an Active Directory (AD) configured and you are configuring WDS, choose ''Standalone Server.'' If you have AD configured, choose ''Integrated with Active Directory.'' Click Next.
- Provide the path on your NTFS drive where you would like to store boot images, install images, PXE boot files, and WDS management tools. Click Next.
- Check both boxes if you have configured DHCP on the same WDS server and click Next.
- Choose ''Respond to all client computers'' (known and unknown).
- Wait for the wizard to finish (please note that this can take several minutes to complete).
- Click Finish.
Now WDS is configured and ready to use.
WDSUTIL Command Line Options
WDSUTIL is a command-line utility used for managing WDS server. The location of the executable is windows\system32\wdsutil. Run the command prompt as administrator to run WDSUTIL commands.
Let's now look at the options available to us one at a time.
|/add||This command adds objects or prestages computers.|
|/approve-AutoaddDevices||This command approves systems that are pending administrator approval.|
|/convert-RiprepImage||This command converts Remote Installation Preparation (RIPrep) image to a Windows Image (.wim) file.|
|/copy||This command copies a driver group or an image.|
|/delete-AutoaddDevices||This command deletes computers from the Auto-add database.|
|/disable-Server||This command disables all services for a local WDS server if no server is mentioned.|
|/disconnect-Client||This command disconnects a client from a namespace or multicast transmission.|
|/enable||This command enables all services for WDS.|
|/export-Image||This command exports an image to a .wim file from the image store.|
|/get||This command retrieves attributes and properties about the specified object.|
|/initialize-Server||This command configures a WDS server for initial use.|
|/new||This command creates new capture images or discover images.|
|/progress||While a command is being executed, this command displays the progress status.|
|/reject-AutoaddDevices||The computers that are pending administrator approval are rejected by this command.|
|/remove||This command removes objects.|
|/replace-Image||This command replaces installation or boot image with a new version of that image.|
|/set||This command sets attributes and properties on the specified object.|
|/start-Server||This command starts all services on the WDS server.|
|/stop-Server||This command stops all services on the WDS server including multicast transmissions, namespaces, and the Transport Server.|
|uninitialize-Server Option||Changes made during server initialization are reverted by this command.|
|/update-ServerFiles||On the remote install share this command updates server files.|
|/verbose||This command displays verbose output for the specified command.|
All right, let's take a moment or two to review. As we learned, Windows Deployment Services (also known as WDS) is a technology that enables you to deploy Windows operating systems on computers without using physical media, such as CDs or DVDs. WDS reduces overall installation time by simultaneously installing Windows operating systems on multiple clients through network installation.
WDS is an improvement over its predecessor, RIS, and:
- It uses standard Windows setup technologies
- It's easy and efficient due to network-based installation
- It reduces the cost and complexity of installation
- It supports the deployment of mixed environment images
- It supports deployment solutions for both server and client systems
We also learned that installation and configuration of WDS in Windows Server 2016 involves multiple steps and that WDSUTIL is a command-line utility having a rich set of commands for managing WDS server.
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