Category Archives: Ghost

Quick MDT 2012 facts

I’ve been quite busy lately so I’ll try to be quick… I would like to share my discoveries on MDT 2012 and the information I gathered while I was migrating from MDT 2010.

  • Mikael Nystrom’s step by step on how to update BIOS in MDT still works perfectly.
  • Andrew Barnes’ how to integrate BGInfo into WinPE still works, and even better, MDT 2012 comes with a 64-bit version of BGInfo (located at %deploymentshare%\Tools\x64).
  • It is no longer needed to have a custom pane to set local administrators in MDT 2012. Instead use the “SkipAdminAccounts=NO” property in CustomSettings.ini. Please note that the administrators accounts page only appears if you selected “Join a domain” as I mention on the TechNet Forums.
  • Thanks to Michael Niehaus, DaRT integration is now fully supported in MDT 2012. I talked about this earlier but it’s always good to reiterate the benefits of software assurance.
  • A very interesting new feature of MDT 2012 is monitoring. It can be enabled in a few simple steps: Navigate to your deployment share properties, go to the last tab called “Monitoring”, check the box called “Enable monitoring for this deployment share”. Then click OK. It should work right away… A good way to check is to look at your CustomSettings.ini for a new line called “EventService=http://myserver.corp/“. Is you run into issues there is always this good troubleshooting article. Used in conjonction with DaRT, you can remotely control deployments from a central location.
  • Another feature that might not be actually that new but still useful is the “SLSHARE=” property. It allows you to set a network share where the logs are written during the deployment. This is particularly useful when your helpdesk people forget to capture logs if a deployment fails. A good security practice it to set a sticky bit, using the user directory technique on that particular folder since logs may contain sensitive information.
  • You are now able to use only one (32-bit) boot image to initiate both 32-bit and 64-bit deployments. A word of caution, though, if you need to use DaRT to repair an install you will need to boot the appropriate architecture.


Playing with Boot Camp on Macs and EFI limitations workarounds.

As you may know, Macs use a GPT (GUID Partition Table) unlike Windows, that usually uses the old MBR (Master Boot Record). On top of that, there is just a BIOS emulation on top of the EFIon Apple machines. As usual, Macs are a step ahead but that creates some side effects:

  • Inability to boot from exotic CDs like UBCD, Manufacturers HDD diagnostics and so on…
  • Inability to clone Windows partitions using standard tools like Ghost or Acronis.

Hopefully, there are workarounds. First of all, if you have HDD issues, you can move the drive to another computer (PC) to perform extensive testing, especially at the logical and mechanical level. You don’t need to actually boot on the HDD – that would be impossible anyway – to analyze it. Moving a drive is not hard and doesn’t void the warranty if done properly.

Cloning is now fairly easy, there is an awesome tool called WinClone from TwoCanoes that allows you to backup and restore a functional Boot Camp partition. You can even shrink your Windows partition. They also claim that you can deploy Windows using ARD.

I also would like to share a few reminders:

  • Windows is not like Mac OS. You can’t have a generic Windows image just by cloning it as every model of Mac is different and requires different drivers and settings (especially on the ACPI side) unless you use a third-party tool.
  • Macs doesn’t support PXE for obvious reasons. You can use NetBoot though.
  • If you don’t absolutely need to boot natively into windows, consider using a VM as they are less platform dependant.
  • Use Time Machine!