Windows Deployment Services – Installing on VMWare

Got my hands on the WDS beta from Microsoft. Looks like a huge improvement on RIS, although the documentation really leaves something to be desitred at this point. Key features:
– Image-file based service. Uses the new “WIM” image format.
– Tools provided to edit WIM images (ie. drop in Microsoft Hotfixes and service packs)
– Improved GUI and CLI tools for managing images
– Unified answer file format for all installations
– Migration tool to allow RIS file-based image to WIM image conversion!
– WinPE-based process, uses “real” network drivers, and has more client-side options for image capture (ie. capture to local image, capture to network share). Capture can be performed independently from the WDS server.

Anyway, I installed WDS on a VMWare instance of 2003 SP1 server. The procedure was fairly straightforward:
– Install Remote Installation Services from the Add/Remove Windows Components Wizard
– Install the WDS “hotfix” (this changes the name of the RIS service from “binlsvc” to “WDSServer”.
– Initialize WDS using either the CLI “WDSUtil”. I used the CLI, but it would seem that the GUI may be better as there is more thorough prompting for installation image media.

Following installation, I had some trouble getting another VMWare host to net-boot to the WDS server. I then tried isolating the hosts onto the VMWare “host-only” network with no further luck. Eventually I read the VMWare documentation:

As it turns out, VMWare runs a virtual DHCP server on the host-only and NAT virtual network adapters (this is kind of a “duh” if you think about it. By going into the VMWare “Host” menu, then selecting “Virtual Network Settings”, I am able to disable the DHCP server. Now my other virtual hosts boot to the WDS server promptly. Cool!

Now I just have to igure out how to get some images into the system…

I plan to switch to NAT networking so that I can communicate with external systems where I intend to capture the WIM images.