Changes in Windows Deployment Technology

[This article is an updated version of the “What’s new in the Campus domain?” article, previously published in the Spring 2007 IT-News]

In Spring 2007 we introduced you to two new tools in the Windows Deployment arsenal at UVM.  Further work on and refinement of these tools continues.  If you are interested in developing for, deploying with, or training on these tools, please contact Greg Mackinnon in the ETS Systems Architecture and Administration department.

A second quick overview on these new technologies follows:

Windows DS:

With the release of Windows Vista, Microsoft replaced their venerable “Remote Installation Service” (RIS) with an entirely new product: “Windows Deployment Services” (or Windows DS).  You can learn more about Windows DS here:
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver/longhorn/deployment/services.mspx
RIS has been in use at UVM since 2003.  This year, Back-to-School systems will be deployed using Windows DS rather than RIS. 

At the present time, we have installed the Windows DS software on our central imaging servers, SYSIMG1 and SYSIMG2.  We have converted all legacy Windows XP RIS images into the new “Windows Image Format” (WIM) used in Windows DS, and made these images available on the servers.  Use of RIS will be phased out sometime this year.

“LiteTouch” Deployment:

To complement the Windows DS service, Microsoft also has released a major update to their Business Desktop Deployment (BDD) toolkit.  This toolkit includes the wonderfully handy “LiteTouch” deployment system.

LiteTouch is an unattended OS deployment tool.  Unlike the image-based technologies “RIS” and “WIndows DS”, LiteTouch performs a full OS install.  When deploying via LiteTouch, you start the target computer using special boot media (USB flash drive, CD-Rom, or NetBoot), answer a few questions about how you would like your system configured (choose your OS, applications, and configure domain-joining options), and then let LiteTouch do the rest.  When done, you will have a fully-patched OS with most or all of the drivers and applications necessary to get your job done already installed.

LiteTouch has the potential to replace RIS and Windows DS for most system deployments on campus.  In the future, we most probably use image-based tools  for bulk-deployments only (i.e. for back-to-school distribution and lab deployments).  LiteTouch also has the potential to accelerate the image-development process; in fact, all of this year’s back-to-school images were generated using the LiteTouch system as a starting point!

Many places on campus can start using Windows DS and LiteTouch deployment tools simply by “net booting” their computers.  However, network boot can be slow and is not available to everyone.  As an alternative, you can create a bootable CD or USB flash drive to access the servers.  Directions are available on the Campus domain file server:
\files.uvm.edusoftwareWindows_Deployment_Service

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