Category Archives: WinPE

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.


Integrate Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Tools (DaRT) into the MDT boot image

If you’re running MDT 2012, please read Michael Niehaus’ post:

I recently found out Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Tools (I’ll refer to it as DaRT thereafter) was quite handy. It is part of Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, which is available for free if you’re covered by Software Assurance.

So basically the goal here it to integrate the tools available in DaRT into the WinPE boot image generated by MDT.

Looks handy, doesn’t it?

DaRT is distributed as an installer which requires Windows 7 setup files to generate a custom WIM encapsulated into an ISO. Sounds quite cool but that’s one more thing to maintain and update with new drivers… Since the DaRT installer uses WinPE that shouldn’t be too hard to figure out a way to add some more files to make it work.

Took me a little while to figure out but it ended up working so I’m sharing the technique with you guys:

You will need: Windows AIK, the DaRT installer, MDT 2010 and some kind of archive utility like 7-zip.

You will also need to do this twice, once for the x86 Boot Image and once for the x64 Boot Image.

  1. Acquire the MS DaRT installers for x86 and x64 located in the MDOP iso available through MS Volume Licensing or MSDN.
  2. Follow the wizard to create the 2 ISOs, 1 for x86 and the other one for x64.
  3. Create a directory called the following directories: c:\DaRT\ERD and c:\DaRT\files (or whatever/wherever you like).
  4. Expand the ISOs to c:\DaRT\ERD\x86 and c:\DaRT\ERD\x64 (using 7-zip for example).
  5. Open a privileged command prompt and use the following command:
    C:Program FilesWindows AIKToolsServicing>dism /Mount-Wim /wimfile:c:\DaRT\ERD\x86\sources\boot.wim /mountdir:c:\DaRT\files\x86 /index:1
    C:Program FilesWindows AIKToolsServicing>dism /Mount-Wim /wimfile:c:\DaRT\ERD\x64\sources\boot.wim /mountdir:c:\DaRT\files\x64 /index:1
  6. At this point you can delete c:\DaRT\ERD if you want.
  7. Go to c:\DaRT\files\x86 and x64. You should see the following directories:
    Program Files
    Program Data
  8. Delete Program Data and Users.
  9. Go to Program Files, delete all directories but “Standalone System Sweeper”.
  10. Go to sources, delete all directories but “recovery”.
  11. Go to Windows, delete all directories but “System32”. Then, under System32 sort files by date. Delete all files and folders that are not timestamped as of the day you created the ISO. That should leave you with 28 files (37 if you have the debugging tools). Additionally, delete winpeshl.ini as it interferes with the MDT wizard.
  12. At this point we’re pretty much done.
  13. Go to MDT, right click on your Deployment Share > Properties.
  14. In both Windows PE x86 Settings or Windows PE x64 Settings at the Extra Directory to add, specify C:\DaRT\files\x86 for the x86 boot image and C:\DaRT\files\x64 for the x64 boot image (or any other folder you may already be using/wanting to use).
  15. Rebuild your deployment share.
You’re done.