Category Archives: Microsoft

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.


How to install iTunes on Windows with MDT

I came across the need to deploy iTunes using MDT (2010 or 2012). Unfortunately, there is no way to run the usual setup file with switches.
The key is to expand the installer (using 7-zip) and then create hidden applications for each component (that also allows you to prevent Bonjour or Apple Software update from installing…).
Install the MSI files in this order:
Using this command: msiexec /i XXX.msi /qb REBOOT=ReallySuppress
(where xxx is the msi filename, of course)
It also works for the 64-bit version. Every time there is an update of iTunes, simply overwrite the files on your network share.

Prevent Outlook from prompting for a password on a network context change.

Sometimes when Outlook changes network contexts (i.e. from wired to wireless), it triggers an annoying authentication popup. There’s a way around:

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Go to “Tools” > “Account Settings”.
  3. Double click on your account.
  4. At the bottom right, click on “More Settings…”.
  5. Click on the “Connection” tab.
  6. Under “Outlook Anywhere”, click on “Exchange Proxy Settings”.
  7. Uncheck the “On slow networks, connect using HTTP first, then connect using TCP/IP”.

Migrate Outlook settings sans pain.

Just a useful tip from the top of my head. If you want to migrate Outlook settings without having to reconfigure accounts, delivery options and PST locations, here is the registry key you need to export:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles
* If you’re migrating from XP to a next-gen OS (Vista or 7), you’ll get some error messages because C:\Documents and Setting\User\Local Settings\Application Data is now C:\Users\User\AppData\Local make sure you put the PST files in the right place and simply browse to their location when asked.

MDT 2010 Part 2: Initial Configuration

MDT is very simple to use if you are familiar with the imaging process introduced in Windows Vista (Based on monolithic WIM image files that are “restored” instead of set of files that get copied). WIM files can be updated, customized then added back to an installation media or distribution shares.
Once you have MDT up and running, you will need to create what is called a Deployment Share.
  1. Open MDT (Start > All Programs > Microsoft Deployment Toolkit > Deployment Workbench).
  2. Right click on Deployment Shares the select Deployment Share.
  3. Choose the folder that will be shared over the network. Preferably on another partition (i.e. D:Deployment). Click Next.
  4. Name the share: i.e. Deployment$ which will reside on \MDTSERVER\Deployment$.
  5. Select a descriptive name like, let’s say: “MDT Deployment Share”.
  6. Leave all the other settings by default since we will modify most of them later.
The deployment share will then be built. You will see several folders:

It’s a perfectly good time for some explanations:
  • Applications: This is the folder where the post-install applications are listed. They are presented during the wizard if the rule SkipApplications is set to NO.
  • Operating Systems: The OS images reside in there, they can be WIM files or complete OS CD/DVD contents (including Windows XP).
  • Out-of-Box Drivers: Self explanatory, all the drivers you import will be in here. It is STRONGLY recommended to create folders in order to ease future updates (i.e. Out-of-Box Driver\Ethernet\Broadcom for Broadcom Ethernet drivers or Out-of-Box Drivers\Dell\Latitude\D630 for Dell Latitude D630-specific drivers).
  • Packages: Update packages for Windows, like Service Packs, Language Packs… Remember that if you have a Volume License agreement with Microsoft, updated ISO files are available (including the latest Service Pack).
  • Task Sequences: The core of MDT, the task sequences will actually allow you to deploy operating systems. They are composed of 2 XML files, namely unattend.xml and ts.xml. The unattend.xml file is the same you would create with WAIK, based on a catalog generated for a specific image. The ts.xml file contains settings for the task sequence itself. A task sequence lets you configure installer behaviors for pre-installation (settings collection, drive formatting options), installation (image selection) and post installation (application and drivers installation, Windows settings and domain membership).
  • Advanced Configuration contains some advanced features I will talk about in another article. Mainly replication rules and fine tuning.
Your MDT distribution point should now be running. The next article will show you how to add and image and configure it for the actual deployment.

MDT 2010 Part 1: Installation

There we are, finally… Let’s talk about the installation of Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010.
First of all, I have to say that I’ve been blasted by this product. It’s been the first time in a long time since I really appreciated using a Microsoft product… Let’s leave the troll aside and proceed with the installation steps.
They obviously need to be installed in that order.
  • On your server, open Server Manager then scroll down to Roles. Click Add Roles then find Windows Deployment Services. Restart your server if prompted to do so.
  • If not already installed, download and install MSXML 6.0 or better.
  • Download and install WAIK using the link above. It will be used to manage settings inside the images by generating catalogs and XML configuration files. WAIK is also some kind of WYSIWYG editor for the aforementioned XML files.
  • Finally, install MDT 2010.
This process should be straightforward if you have installed the utilities in this order. Please note that MDT 2010 doesn’t require WDS to install or run since WDS acts only as a transport for the images. MDT can be run off CDs or DVDs instead of PXE, but that’s not really what you want to do, right?

Excel 2007 has trouble opening files?

Double clicking on an Excel file does not open it. Instead Excel opens and displays a blank workbook. However, if you minimize Excel, it will immediately maximise itself and display the file you originally tried to open.

The solution is really weird: You can stop this annoying behavior by adding an Add-in, like this:
Excel options >Add-Ins > Manage: Excel Add-Ins > Euro Currency tools.