Windows Server 2016 013: Windows Deployment Services

Windows Deployment Services (WDS for short) is what we use to deploy operating systems on network computers. This means you won’t have to go to each computer with a USB stick and install/setup windows manually.

I’ll be presuming you’re doing in an Active Directory based environment.

In this guide I’ll show you how:

  • Install and Configure WDS
  • Boot and install Windows over LAN

Install and Configure Windows Deployment Services

I’ll be presuming you’re in an Active Directory based environment. I’ve covered this in my guide on Active Directory Lab Setup. Lets continue on to the installation.

  1. Open Server Manager and click Add roles and features.
  2. Click Next a few times on the Add Roles and Features Wizard until you’re on the Server Roles page.
  3. Tick the box for Windows Deployment Services and click Add Features on the popup box.
  4. Continue clicking Next through the following pages until you get the option to click Install.
  5. Installing will take a minute, after that click Close.

At this point WDS is installed but not yet configured. To configure WDS follow these steps.

  1. In Server Manager, go to Tools > Windows Deployment Services
  2. Expand the list of Servers, right click on your server and click Configure Server.
  3. Click Next on the first page, select Integrated with Active Directory and click Next again.
  4. For the Remote Installation Folder Location you can leave the Path as default unless you want to set it to another path.
  5. If you get a warning about the path being on the Windows system volume, click Yes.
  6. Tick both options in the Proxy DHCP Server page and click Next.
  7. On the PXE Server Initial Settings page you can select an option that suits you best. I’ll be going with Respond to all client computers (known and unknown) and not ticking Require administrator approval for unknown computers below it.
  8. Upon clicking Next it will configure and start WDS, once it’s done this click Finish.
  9. The final step is to right click on your server in the WDS MMC, go All Tasks > Start.

Adding Images

In order to boot a computer you’ll need to add a Boot Image (Windows PE Image) from your Windows Installation ISO/Disk. The Boot Image is located on the Windows install media under \sources\boot.wim.

  1. Open the Windows Deployment Services MMC, expand down Servers and your desired server.
  2. Right click on Boot Images and go Add Boot Image….
  3. In the Add Image Wizard click Browse… and navigate to the location of the boot.wim image stated above. Click Next.
  4. Pick a name and description (or leave the default ones) and click Next.
  5. Click Next on this page and wait for it to add the image to the Server. Upon completion, click Finish.

At this point you’ll be able to boot a computer over the network in to Windows PE however we still have no installation image. Installation images can be found on the Windows Install ISOs under \sources\install.wim.

Follow these steps to add Install Images:

  1. In the WDS MMC, right click on Install Images and go Add Install Image….
  2. Name your Image Group and click Next.
  3. Browse to your chosen install.wim and click Next.
  4. Click Next again on both following screens and wait for it to complete adding the image.
  5. Upon completion of adding the image, click Finish.

Booting over LAN

Configuring a computer to boot over LAN (PXE booting) will differ from computer to computer. You’ll need to go in to the bios and find an option like “LAN Boot ROM” or “PXE Boot ROM“. Here is the option from one of my computers:

You’ll also need to make sure the NIC is up top in the boot order. This is a screen shot from a VM in ESXi:

Once you’re PXE booting from your NIC, you’ll see a screen like this. Press F12 here to network boot. It won’t wait around long so you’ll need to be quick.

Once you’ve booted up, pick your language and click next. You’ll be presented with a login box, type in the account details for server access including @yourDomainName on the end.

Select the OS you want to install and click Next.

From here it’s a standard Windows Install process.

Congratulations, you have WDS working and a convenient way to install windows on to computers. You can expand on this by making your own images with programs and drivers already installed and by doing unattended installs, all of which i’ll have guides for in the future.

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