PXE Booting in the Real World

At the Midwest Management Summit today in the 7 AM OSD Birds of a Feather session, there was a lot of discussion around troubleshooting PXE booting issues. A reference was made to a session that Troy Martin and I gave at the 2014 Midwest Management Summit called PXE Booting in the Real World. Troy put together some nice SQL queries that help with the troubleshooting process:

 

/* Get list of devices and their Last PXE boot for (a) required deployments */
SELECT * FROM [CM_PS1].[dbo].[LastPXEAdvertisement] order by MAC_Addresses
 
/* Get item key for unknown records */
select * [CM_PS1].[dbo].[UnknownSystem_DISC]
 
/* Is device known and a valid client on the site */
Use CM_PS1
exec NBS_LookupPXEDevice N'45A74041-2F02-4A5E-B413-CD35DDE47123',N'1E:1E:1E:1E:1E:B1'
exec NBS_LookupPXEDevice N'2DCFD0F8-9134-44A3-84BB-0BFC114ADD87',N'1E:1E:1E:1E:1E:B2'
 
/* Get list of deployments for device */
Use CM_PS1
exec NBS_GetPXEBootAction N'16777278',N'2046820352',N'45A74041-2F02-4A5E-B413-CD35DDE47123',N'1E:1E:1E:1E:1E:B1',N'CM12PS1.contoso.com'
exec NBS_GetPXEBootAction N'16777279',N'2046820353',N'2DCFD0F8-9134-44A3-84BB-0BFC114ADD87',N'1E:1E:1E:1E:1E:B2',N'CM12PS1.contoso.com'

Here is a link to the slide deck that contains more information and a bunch of useful references.

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Deploying Office 365 with System Center 2012/R2 Configuration Manager and 1E Nomad

BrandLogoOffice365

1 Overview

Microsoft Office 365 introduces a new way to deploy and update Office 365 using Click-to-Run technology. Office 365 is typically installed using the Office 365 portal. However, this presents several challenges in a managed environment. The first challenge is that users must be local administrators on their computers in order to install Office from the Office 365 portal. Hopefully in a well-managed environment, end users do not have local administrator rights, but that is a topic for another time. The second challenge is that the install binaries come from the Office Content Distribution Network (CDN). In other words, the necessary files are streamed down from the Internet to the user’s computer. This also presents a challenge in corporate environments where Internet network connections and Wide Area Network links are already bandwidth constrained. Lastly, Office 365 does not integrate with System Center 2012/R2 Configuration Manager Software Updates (or Windows Update), and instead use the Office CDN for updating and patching Office 365 installations.

Fortunately the Office 365 Team has released the Office Deployment Tool which aides in deploying and updating Office 365 installations from on-premises locations. This document will outline one method on how the Office Deployment Tool can be used to deploy Office 365 with System Center 2012/R2 Configuration and 1E Nomad and leverage the bandwidth efficiencies and peer to peer capabilities from 1E Nomad.

Disclaimer:

Your use of these example scripts is at your sole risk. This information is provided “as-is”, without any warranty, whether express or implied, of accuracy, completeness, fitness for a particular purpose, title or non-infringement. I shall not be liable for any damages you may sustain by using these examples, whether direct, indirect, special, incidental or consequential.

2 Getting Started

The first thing that is required is the Office Deployment Tool. This is available here on the Microsoft Download Center or simply search for “Office Deployment Tool Download” using your favorite search engine (Note: there is a new version of the tool for the Office 2016 release). After downloading the exe, run it, accept the license agreement and click continue.

001 O365

Create a folder called Office 365 in a preferred location, for this example we will use \Downloads\Office 365.

002 O365

After running, it should display a “Files extracted successfully.” message. If not, make sure you have proper access to the target directory.

003 O365

The target directory should contain two files – a sample configuration.xml and setup.exe.

004 O365

Make a copy of the configuration.xml file and call it download.xml. Edit the file so that it contains the following contents (be careful of word wrap):


<Configuration>
<Add SourcePath="\\CM12PS1.contoso.com\ContentSource\Packages\Microsoft\Office 365 x86" OfficeClientEdition="32" >
<Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
<Language ID="en-us" />
</Product>
<Product ID="VisioProRetail">
<Language ID="en-us" />
</Product>
</Add>
</Configuration>

This will download the source files for the 32-bit version of Office Professional Plus and also the 32-bit version of Visio Professional. Adjust the products accordingly, downloading all of the Office Products that are used in your environment. If there are users that do not use some products (like Visio Professional), then multiple deployment configuration files can be created. For more information on the various options, please refer to the Reference for Click-to-Run configuration.xml file.

For the SourcePath, enter the location of your Configuration Manager package repository.

3 Setup the Office 365 Source Files

Open a command prompt and navigate to the directory containing the Office Deployment Tool (for my example this is C:\Users\Administrator.CONTOSO\Downloads\Office 365). Run setup.exe using the following command line:

Setup.exe /download download.xml

005 O365

This could take a few minutes depending on the speed of your Internet connection. The above configuration downloads about 1.08 GB of source files. The following directory structure will look like the following (the screen shot is from the April 2015 release and the version changes monthly):

006 O365

Copy setup.exe (from the Downloads\Office 365 directory) to the Office 365 x86 folder.

Create a file called Install.xml in the Office 365 x86 folder with the following contents (be careful of word wrap):


<Configuration>
<Add SourcePath="C:\Preload\Office365" OfficeClientEdition="32" >
<Product ID="O365ProPlusRetail">
<Language ID="en-us" />
</Product>
<Product ID="VisioProRetail">
<Language ID="en-us" />
</Product>
</Add>
<Updates Enabled="TRUE" UpdatePath="C:\Preload\Office365" />
<Display Level="None" AcceptEULA="TRUE" />
<Logging Level="Standard" Path="%temp%" />
<Property Name="AUTOACTIVATE" Value="1" />
</Configuration>

This will point both the SourePath and the UpdatePath to a local path called C:\Preload\Office365 on the user’s computer. It will install Office 365 from this location and it will also update from this location. The UpdatePath could be defined as an internal share, however, you would lose the intelligent bandwidth and peer to peer capabilities that Nomad provides when deploying updates.

The above configuration file will install the following components:
Access 2013
Excel 2013
InfoPath Designer 2013
InfoPath Filler 2013
OneDrive for Business 2013
OneNote2013
Outlook 2013
PowerPoint 2013
Publisher 2013
Send to OneNote 2013
Skype for Business 2015
Visio 2013
Word 2013
Office 2013 Tools

Chances are not all components will be installed in your environment, so for more information on the various options, please refer to the Reference for Click-to-Run configuration.xml file. You can even create multiple configuration files (and corresponding CM Programs as seen below) all within the same package.

Next, create a file called Install.bat (yes I know – a bat file, right?  But you would be surprised how many companies have not switched to PowerShell yet) in the Office 365 x86 folder with the following contents (be careful of word wrap):


@ECHO OFF
REM Install.bat
REM Version 1
REM 4/25/2015

IF EXIST C:\Preload GOTO MDO365

MD C:\Preload

:MDO365

IF EXIST C:\Preload\Office365 GOTO CLEANUP

MD C:\Preload\Office365

:CLEANUP

IF EXIST C:\Preload\Office365\Office (

RD /S /Q C:\Preload\Office365\Office

)

DEL /F /Q C:\Preload\Office365\*.*

SET SOURCEDIR=%~dp0

SET O365CACHE=C:\Preload\Office365\

XCOPY *. %O365CACHE% /T /E

SETLOCAL ENABLEDELAYEDEXPANSION

for /R %~dp0 %%G IN (*.*) do (

SET SOURCE=%%G

SET DEST=!SOURCE:%SOURCEDIR%=%O365CACHE%!

fsutil hardlink create !DEST! !SOURCE!

)

ENDLOCAL

REM Delete Install.bat from the Preload\Office365 directory

DEL /F /Q C:\Preload\Office365\Install.bat

IF "%1"=="/pre-cache" GOTO END

%O365CACHE%Setup.exe /configure %O365CACHE%install.xml

:END

Since we are installing and upgrading Office 365 from the local disk, we create a set directory that will be used throughout the process. This is done because the directory in the CCM Cache will be a random character and the configuration file needs a set path. The contents will be hard linked from the CCM Cache to the C:\Preload\Office365 directory in order to minimize required disk space (it is already hard linked from the Nomad cache in to the CCM Cache). Effectively, the contents are only on the disk once with three pointers.

Since the files change between updates, the Office 365 cache location is cleared of any previous files and then new hard links are created with the new files. This keeps the Office 365 cache from growing and taking up unnecessary disk space. Since the script is creating hard links, the process takes a split second.

The contents of the Office 365 x86 directory should now look like the following:

007 O365

4 Create the Office 365 Package in CM

In the Configuration Manager Console, create a new Package in the Software Library.

008 O365

Populate the following package information using the same source folder as above:

009 O365

Choose Standard program as the program type:

010 O365

Populated the following information about the standard program:

011 O365

Enter the corresponding requirements:

012 O365

On the Nomad Settings page, enable Nomad and set the desired Cache Priority:

013 O365

Confirm the information on the summary screen:

014 O365

Confirm the successful creation and click Close:

015 O365

Back in the console under Packages, right-click on the Office 365 package and select Create Program:

016 O365

Select Standard program:

017 O365

For the program name use Update Office 365 Cache with the command line: Install.bat /pre-cache:

018 O365

Use 1 GB for the estimated disk space and the same platform requirements as before:

019 O365

Confirm the information on the summary screen:

020 O365

Confirm the successful creation and click Close:

021 O365

5 Distribute the Package to the DP(s)

Back in the console under Packages, right-click on the Office 365 package, select Distribute Content:

022 O365

Review the selected content and click Next:

023 O365

Select the correct Distribution Points or Distribution Point Group:

024 O365

On the summary page confirm the settings and click Next:

025 O365

On the completion page, confirm success and click Close:

026 O365

6 Create the Office 365 Collection

Create the collection that will be used to deploy Office 365 and also update the local Office 365 cache. Depending on your preference and deployment strategy, two collections can be created instead of one. One can be for the initial deployment and the other can be for updating the Office 365 cache on a monthly, quarterly or as needed basis. For this purposes of this document, we will keep it simple and only create one collection.

In the CM console under Device Collections, right-click and select Create Device Collection:

027 O365

Give the collection the name Office 365 and select a corresponding limiting collection:

028 O365

Add a couple of test systems to the Office 365 collection that is being created:

029 O365

Confirm the settings on the summary page:

030 O365

On the completion page, confirm the successful completion and click Close:

031 O365

7 Create the Office 365 Installation Deployment

Now create the Deployment that will install Office 365 on systems that are in the collection that was just created in the previous step. In the console under Packages, right-click and select Deploy.

032 O365

Select Install Office 365 for the software and Office 365 for the collection:

033 O365

Verify that the content is on the required Distribution Points/Groups:

034 O365

On the Deployment Settings page, leave the Purpose set to Required for an unattended installation:

035 O365

Set the schedule and rerun behavior:

036 O365

Click Next on the User Experience:

037 O365

On the Distribution Points page, since we are using Nomad we can safely select Download content from distribution point and run locally for slow and unreliable network boundaries (which also includes undefined network boundaries). That is another benefit of Nomad is the fact that you do not need to ever worry about managing boundaries in order for it to work (unlike other solutions). In addition, enabled Allow clients to use a fallback source location for content (since with Nomad, you probably only have a couple of Distribution Points in the datacenter).

038 O365

On the Summary page, verify the settings and click Next:

039 O365

Verify that the Deploy Software Wizard completed successfully:

040 O365

8 Verify Installation

Logging onto PC01, we see using the Nomad Branch GUI that it is the master and is downloading the package from the CM Distribution Point:

041 O365

Whereas on PC02, it is pulling the Office 365 package from PC01 (notice the mode – SMB from Peer):

042 O365

Back in the CM console, we see that both installed successfully:

043 O365

Using fsutil, you can see that the files are only on the disk once and have multiple pointers (i.e. hard links). One points to the Nomad cache, one to the CM Cache and the last one to the Preload\Office365 directory:

044 O365

9 Create the Update Office 365 Cache Deployment

Now it is time to create the Update Office 365 Cache Deployment. Office 365 is updated on the second Tuesday of the month with updates and/or security patches. The process is combined, so there is currently no way to split out just the security updates. The version is displayed on the Account page of anyone of the Office applications. This is from the April 2015 release (version 15.0.4711.1002, which is the same as a subdirectory in our Office 365 package as seen above):

045 O365

The following knowledge base article lists all of the Office 365 updates: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/gp/office-2013-365-update

The Office 365 package can be updated monthly, every other month, or quarterly depending on your company’s patching frequency. Keep in mind that each of the files change in the monthly download, so the majority of the files will need to be cached. Also, it is probably best to test them out on a pilot group prior to releasing them to the entire enterprise. This discussion goes beyond the subject of this article, but there is a version property that can be used in the configuration file.

In the CM Console under Packages, right-click on the Office 365 package and select Deploy:

032 O365

Select Update Office 365 Cache for the software and Office 365 for the collection:

047 O365

Verify that the content is on the required Distribution Points/Groups:

034 O365

On the Deployment Settings page, leave the Purpose set to Required for an unattended installation:

035 O365

Set the schedule and rerun behavior. Since this is just updating the Office 365 Cache, this example configures it to run on the third Tuesday of every month and the rerun behavior is set to Always rerun program:

050 O365

Click Next on the User Experience:

037 O365

Just like the Install Office 365 Deployment, on the Distribution Points page, since we are using Nomad we can safely select Download content from distribution point and run locally for slow and unreliable network boundaries (which also includes undefined network boundaries). That is another benefit of Nomad is the fact that you do not need to ever worry about managing boundaries in order for it to work (unlike other solutions). In addition, enabled Allow clients to use a fallback source location for content (since with Nomad, you probably only have a couple of Distribution Points in the datacenter).

038 O365

On the Summary page, verify the settings and click Next:

053 O365

Verify that the Deploy Software Wizard completed successfully:

054 O365

Now on the third Tuesday of every month, the clients will update their Office 365 cache with the latest binaries. Office 365 updates are done from a scheduled task on the local system and will be updated accordingly after the next cycle.

10 Summary

The above process outlines one method for deploying and updating Office 365 in a managed environment by leveraging the current investment in System Center 2012/R2 Configuration Manager and 1E Nomad. This process will overcome the challenges that were mentioned in the beginning of this article. It will allow companies to deploy and update Office 365 without causing negative impact to the corporate WAN links and Internet connections.  It can be used without Nomad, but then you lose the P2P functionality and intelligent bandwidth management when downloading from a DP.  So a word to the wise if you don’t use Nomad – be careful!!!!  Or better yet – head over to www.1e.com!

11 Reference Links

Office Deployment Tool for Click-to-Run

Deploy Click-to-Run for Office 365 products by using the Office Deployment Tool

Overview of the update process for Office 365 ProPlus

Managing Updates for Office 365 ProPlus – Part 1

Managing Updates for Office 365 ProPlus – Part 2

System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager

1E Nomad

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Automating Dell BIOS-UEFI Standards for Windows 10

Uefi_logo

If you are starting to deploy Windows 10 (or are currently deploying Windows 8/8.1), then now is the time to make the switch to UEFI.  A system needs to be configured for UEFI (without Compatibility Support Module being enabled) in order to take advantage of Secure Boot (and other Windows 10 security features like Device Guard).  Secure Boot prevents loading of drivers and OS loaders that are not signed with a certified digital signature, thus preventing malware and root kits that alter the boot process.

The first version of Windows that support Secure Boot was Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.  If you were one of the many companies that either skipped Windows 8/8.1 or only deployed it in limited quantities, then chances are you deployed your systems for legacy BIOS mode.  This means that your Windows 7 systems have MBR partitioned disks and in order to make the switch to UEFI, these systems need to be re-partitioned.  This is one of the limitations of using the Windows 10 In-place upgrade method, as it does not support changing the disk partitioning structure.  The quickest approach to getting to Windows 10 is the In-place upgrade path and it might make sense to do this on the systems that qualify.  For the ones that don’t (including brand new systems), then you definitely want to start configuring them for UEFI and Secure Boot now!

In my previous post, How to create a Dell Command-Configure Package in ConfigMgr, I showed how you could set up the Dell Command-Configure Package in order to use it in OSD Task Sequences.  Now, I am going to show you an example on how it can be used in WinPE via PXE boot (of course, I use 1E PXE Everywhere 3.0 which is part of Nomad 6.0) to enforce these standards.  This will not only increase standardization in your environment, but also prevent costly mistakes made by manual processes.

The first thing we need to do is create a custom Task Sequence.  For this example, I am going to give it the name of BIOS-UEFI Configuration for Windows 10.

001 Create TS

NOTE: This Task Sequence example will only work on systems that already have a formatted disk.  We will cover handling bare disks at another time.

Once created, edit the Task Sequence.  For those of you using Nomad, create the Set Nomad as Download Program (new in Nomad 6.0) and Install and Configure Nomad in Windows PE as the first two steps.  Otherwise, add an Apply Operating System Image step called Dummy Step to trick CM and put a Task Sequence variable condition on the step so that the TS variable NEVERTRUE equals TRUE.

002 NeverTrue equals True

This is very important for two reasons – 1. it will make CM set this as an OSD TS so that we can boot into WinPE and run it, 2. the condition will always evaluate to false and allow the step to be skipped (cause we really do not want to apply an OS image yet).

Next, add a Group called Dell BIOS-UEFI Configuration and put a WMI condition on the group with the following query:


Select * From Win32_ComputerSystem WHERE Manufacturer LIKE "%DELL%"

003 Dell Group conditions

This way it will only apply to Dell systems if you use other OEMs in your environment and it will make it easier to copy and paste into other Task Sequences.

Each of the following steps in this group will be Run Command Line steps that reference the Package Dell Command-Configure-WinPE 3.1.0.250.  I have split out each of the steps in order to make the solution modular.  In other words, not all settings may apply to all Dell models and conditions can be set on the individual steps accordingly.  So, be sure to test against all models that you support.  Another reason for splitting out the steps is that you will get output from each of the commands.  I have included steps that will attempt to get the current setting prior to the step that actually sets the value.  Some of the output can be read from the status messages that are sent back to ConfigMgr, while others will only be reflected in the smsts.log.  For the steps that get the current values, I have made those ‘continue on error’ in order to prevent the Task Sequence from failing from non-zero return values.  Getting the Secure Boot value is one that returns a non-zero exit code (along with the text “The option ‘secureboot’ is not enabled”, if it is not enabled) and will cause the Task Sequence to fail at that point.  In other words, we do not care if it fails reading a value, but we do care if it fails setting a value.

Also, these settings are ones that I would set, so please research each one using the Dell Command-Configure documentation and set the values that work for your environment.

Here is a list of the settings:
NOTE: each of the commands use a double dash, which is hard to see from the screen shots.


Name: Install Dell HAPI Drivers
Command line: HAPIInstall.cmd

Name: Current Active Boot List
Command line: cctk.cmd bootorder --activebootlist

Name: Enable UEFI
Command line: cctk.cmd bootorder --activebootlist=uefi

Name: Current Legacy ROM Setting
Command line: cctk.cmd --legacyorom

Name: Disable Legacy ROMs
Command line: cctk.cmd --legacyorom=disable

Name: Current Secure Boot Setting
Command line: cctk.cmd --secureboot

Name: Enable Secure Boot
Command line: cctk.cmd --secureboot=enable

Name: Current Wake On Lan Setting
Command line: cctk.cmd --wakeonlan

Name: Enable Wake On Lan
Command line: cctk.cmd --wakeonlan=enable

Name: Current UEFI PXE Setting
Command line: cctk.cmd --uefinwstack

Name: Enable UEFI Network Stack
Command line: cctk.cmd --uefinwstack=enable

Name: Current SATA-RAID Setting
Command line: cctk.cmd --embsataraid

Name: Set SATA Operation - AHCI
Command line: cctk.cmd --embsataraid=ahci

Name: Set PXE Boot on next boot
Command line: cctk.cmd --forcepxeonnextboot=enable

004 Enable UEFI

Outside of the Dell BIOS-UEFI Configuration Group, I put a Run Command Line step called Pause with the condition that the Task Sequence variable PAUSE equals TRUE.  This is useful for testing and/or troubleshooting as it will launch a command line and prevent the Task Sequence from finishing.  Simply put the PAUSE variable on either the collection targeted or a device that is being tested.

The last step is a Set Task Sequence Variable step called Restart WinPE.  This sets the Task Sequence variable SMSTSPostAction to the value wpeutil reboot.  This allows the Task Sequence to finish cleanly.

Hopefully you have found this information useful and it gets you well on your way for standardizing your environment’s BIOS-UEFI settings. By making the change to UEFI, it will allow you to take full advantage of the security features in Windows 10.  Now when you boot into WinPE and run the OSD Task Sequence wizard, it will detect that the system is running UEFI (_SMSTSBootUEFI = TRUE) and the disk will be partitioned and formatted accordingly.

You can also download an export of the Task Sequence (updated for CM 1511) here: Dell BIOS-UEFI Configuration for Windows 10 x64.zip

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Testing Required PXE Booting without the OS Deployment

Network-Windows-Client-icon

If you have ever had the need to test the PXE booting capabilities using System Center 2012 Configuration Manager using a Required Deployment, but did not want the OS Deployment part, then this blog is for you.  With Available Deployments, the user has to press an additional key to get the system to PXE boot.  Once the system boots into WinPE, the wizard is displayed with the list of available Task Sequences.  This makes it nice and easy to test PXE booting functionality and network connectivity of your boot image without starting an actual Task Sequence.  However, with a Required Deployment, no additional key press is required and when you are in WinPE, it is off to the races.  Not a big deal if you are testing on virtual machines, but what if you want to test on a new physical device that you need to roll out and you do not want to go through the whole OSD process?

You could simply put a pause in the beginning of a full Task Sequence, but why bother since there is likely more policies that need to be download.  Also, why take the risk?  Here is a simple three step Task Sequence that you can use to do all of the Required (and Available) PXE boot testing without the OS Deployment.

Start by creating a new custom task sequence and add the boot image you want to test with under the Advanced tab of the Task Sequence Properties:

01 Required PXE

Next, edit the Task Sequence and add a Apply Operating System Image step, selecting an existing image package.  This step is required to make CM think that it is an OSD Task Sequence.

02 Required PXE

Click on the Options tab in order to create a condition so that the step will always evaluate to false.  This can be done by testing for a Task Sequence variable name NEVERTRUE equals TRUE (or if you want to mess with your coworker you can use their NAME equals AWESOME – but just in case they really are awesome you might not want to do this Smile):

03 Required PXE

Create a second step using the Run Command Line step so the TS will pause.  Having this pause is useful when multi-tasking and you look away and miss it.  It also gives you the option to do other cool stuff like dump the Task Sequence variables.  Enter the following for the command line: cmd.exe /c “start /wait cmd.exe”
(Be careful of “smart” quotes if copy and pasting.)

04 Required PXE

Set continue on error on the Options tab.

05 Required PXE

Create a third step using the Run Command Line step so the TS will reboot WinPE.  Enter the following for the command line: wpeutil reboot
Set continue on error on the Options tab on this step as well.

06 Required PXE

Save your changes and then then test it by creating a Required Deployment to a test collection to enjoy non destructive Required PXE Booting!

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Pre-staging Content during OSD

1E Nomad

In System Center Configuration Manager Operating System Deployment, content can be obtained in one of two ways for network deployments. The first way is to configure the Task Sequence Deployment to “Download all content locally before starting task sequence”. There are a few downsides to this option – it is only available to ConfigMgr clients (sorry, no media or PXE), and second, it downloads ALL packages referenced in the Task Sequence. The second way is to configure the Task Sequence Deployment to “Download content locally when needed by running task sequence”. As the Task Sequence engine gets to a step that has referenced content, it will download the content prior to running the step. This effectively a just in time process. What is missing is the ability to download specific items during the Task Sequence ahead of actually needing them.

Rewind – several years ago (back in the ConfigMgr 2007 days) I was working on an OSD project. While we were brainstorming ideas on what we could do to make the process better and more resilient, I came up with the idea of staging content during a running Task Sequence. The thought was, if we know that we were going to need something (like the WIM, Driver Package, CM Client, etc.), wouldn’t it be good if we could get it before we started the main execution phase of the Task Sequence. Instead of waiting until we were in WinPE (after the disk had already been wiped) and experienced a failure (maybe a network glitch), we could be proactive by staging only the critical content ahead of time. This way, we can get past the point of no return in the Task Sequence, minimize failure and have a useable system with at least the new OS installed. This is when the concept of Pre-staging Content Using Nomad was born.

This feature first appeared in 1E Nomad version 4.1 for ConfigMgr 2007. It has been in every version of Nomad since that time and this functionality extends both ConfigMgr 2007 and ConfigMgr 2012/R2. To make things easy, there is a custom action in the Task Sequence editor called Pre-stage Content Using Nomad. Simply add the step to the Task Sequence and select the Packages that are required during WinPE and OOBE.

01 Pre-stage

The core OSD packages are: WIM, Boot Image, CM Client, USMT, MDT Toolkit, MDT Settings, and Nomad Agent (as well as any additional scripts used in the Task Sequence). Since this is a Task Sequence step that can be configured with Options, Driver Packages can be selectively pre-staged based on the target system. In other words, it is as simple as adding an additional step to pre-stage the correct Driver Package using the same condition that is used later in the Task Sequence to apply the Driver Package. The Pre-stage section of the Task Sequence might look like the following for environments with HP systems:

02 Pre-stage

The Pre-stage step works in WinPE as well as a full OS, so pre-staging can be done under a Baremetal scenario as well as the Refresh scenario (and very soon the Upgrade scenario for Windows 10). The Pre-stage concept is also helpful when needing to perform OSD Refresh over WiFi. Since there is not any WiFi support in the current version of WinPE, simply pre-stage the necessary content before rebooting into WinPE.

If you have used this feature and like it or have other suggests, let me know!

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

My Sessions at the Midwest Management Summit

MMS180x150

I am really honored to have been a speaker at the first ever Midwest Management Summit (aka the new MMS), that took place November 10th – 12th in Minnesota.  This event was the who’s who of systems management and did not disappoint.  There were over 100 sessions delivered in three days by 50+ experts (which included 32 Microsoft MVPs).  This is one conference and training event that you will not want to miss next year.

I also got the opportunity to present again with my co-worker and good friend Troy Martin.  Troy and I presented the following two sessions:

Hacking the Task Sequence

We will go behind the scenes of the CM OSD Task Sequence engine to look at all of the Task Sequence variables.  Mike and Troy will show you:

  • Tips and tricks on how to pause, interact and resume a Task Sequence when developing your own custom steps.
  • How to overcome certain limitations like read only variables.
  • How to tweak your Boot Images so that they always contain the tools and utilities that are needed for ultimate success.
  • How the task sequence works “under the hood” and some cool tips for manipulating it.

MMS – Hacking the Task Sequence.pptx

PXE Booting in the Real World

This session will focus on how PXE works and what it takes to get it working in the real world using System Center 2012 R2 Configuration Manager.  In addition to the native PXE boot capabilities in CM, this session will also cover the benefits and capabilities of PXE Everywhere from 1E.

Having difficulty performing zero touch because of 3rd party disk encryption?  Come learn the possibilities that open up when using PXE in your environment. Learn about PXE and what it takes to get up and running.

MMS – PXE Booting in the Real World.pptx

I also got to present for the first time with my co-worker Shawn Cardamon.  For those of you that have not met him, he is full of energy and constantly cracking jokes.  It was a fun presentation and we announced our upcoming 1E Solution Accelerator called 1E Enforcement that we will be releasing for free in the near future.

Advanced Application Management

System Center 2012 Configuration Manager application policies are evaluated prior to content being transferred, so that it can be determined if it the software is actually needed in the first place. Applications make use of the re-evaluation cycle which is enabled by default for all required deployments. This can cause potential issues if a rigid software distribution process is not followed. Come join us in this session as we take a deep look inside Applications and demonstrate some of the pros and cons. Also learn how to do selective Application enforcement and only those Applications that always need to be installed. Learn about Applications and application enforcement.

MMS – Advanced Application Management.pptx

Since 1E was a MMS Platinum Sponsor, we also gave a session on all the cool things that we do at 1E and how we help our customers save money.  For that session, I was joined by Troy, Shawn and also Liam Morrison.

World Class Solutions for Real World Problems

At 1E, our sole mission is to reduce the costs of running IT for our customers and provide avenues to true business value.

Many demands are being placed on IT today to deliver products and services which keep up with the consumerization of IT, provide stronger automation, and at the same time lower overall cost to the business. This session will cover what we see as the true circle of influence systems management has on an organization and how these things may be achieved. For example:

  • Are you currently facing a software audit or need to reduce costs on software licenses?  AppClarity can help by identifying software installation and usage. It can even remove unused installations to prevent further license purchases or audit exposures.
  • Are your users asking about BYOD? Are you constantly providing laptops for contractors and consultants?  With MyWorkNow you can provide a secure virtual corporate Windows desktop at a fraction of the price to any Mac or PC.
  • Are your users looking for an easy way to request and install software?  Has it been challenging to manage and assure the right applications are being installed for your users during an OS deployment? Shopping is the App Store for the Enterprise that puts users and IT in control, each being able to focus on more strategic efforts.
  • Stuck managing a large SCCM infrastructure? Do you have multiple locations to manage with SCCM?  Regardless of size, with Nomad you can eliminate the need for 95%+ of servers from SCCM architectures and still be able to perform all of the functions of SCCM like SWD, OSD and SUM.

Come and learn about 1E’s world class solutions and how they address real world problems.

MMS – World Class Solutions for Real World Problems.pptx

This conference was a great way to end the year and I am already looking forward to the next one!

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/

Using PowerShell to Create a BCD File

Recently, I was curious to see if I could get 1E PXE Everywhere (included with 1E Nomad) to boot a MDT Lite Touch boot image.  Since PXE Everywhere integrates with System Center Configuration Manager, it automatically creates the necessary BCD files based on the ConfigMgr boot images.  So that left me with using the command line utility bcdedit to generate the BCD file that I needed for the MDT Boot Image.  Not that there is anything wrong with bcdedit, it just requires a bit of typing out long commands.  It returns a GUID when the OSLOADER is create that then needs to be used in some of the follow up commands.  This is where I thought it would be nice to have a simple PowerShell cmdlet to do it for me – the only problem is one does not currently exist.  So after a bit of playing around with the syntax, I came up with the following function below.  It still calls bcdedit, but because of the way PowerShell uses certain characters, it is necessary to use various escape techniques.

This is a quick script to get the job done, so there is not any type of error handling or logging.  Also, I follow the PXE Everywhere naming convention of boot.xxxxx.bcd, so feel free to modify the script to your needs or preferences.

#Create-BCD
#Author: Mike Terrill
#Version 1.0

#Disclaimer:
#Your use of these example scripts or cmdlets is at your sole risk. This information is provided “as-is”, without any warranty, whether express or implied, of accuracy,
#completeness, fitness for a particular purpose, title or non-infringement. I shall not be liable for any damages you may sustain by using these examples, whether direct,
#indirect, special, incidental or consequential.

#Usages:
#Create-BCD Name Platform TFTPBlockSize
#Example:
#Create-BCD LiteTouchPE x64 8192
#Will create a BCD file called boot.LiteTouchPE_x64.bcd with a TFTPBlockSize of 8192

function Create-BCD {
    [CmdletBinding()]
    param (
    [Parameter(Mandatory=$true,ValueFromPipeline=$true)][string]$Name,
    [Parameter(Mandatory=$true,ValueFromPipeline=$true)][string]$Platform,
    [Parameter(Mandatory=$true,ValueFromPipeline=$true)][int]$TFTPBlockSize
    )

    $ImageName = $Name + "_" + $Platform
    $BCDFileName = "boot.$ImageName.bcd"
    bcdedit /createstore $BCDFileName
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /create "{bootmgr}"
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set --%{bootmgr} description "Boot Manager"
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set --%{bootmgr} fontpath \Boot\Fonts
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /create --%{ramdiskoptions} /d "Windows PE"
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set --%{ramdiskoptions} ramdisksdidevice boot
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set --%{ramdiskoptions} ramdisksdipath \boot.sdi
    #Grab the output that contains the GUID
    $x = bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /create /d "$ImageName" /application OSLOADER
    $GUID = $x|%{$_.split(' ')[2]}
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /default $GUID
    cmd /c "bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set {default} device ramdisk=[boot]\Images\$ImageName\boot.$ImageName.wim,{ramdiskoptions}"
    cmd /c "bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set {default} osdevice ramdisk=[boot]\Images\$ImageName\boot.$ImageName.wim,{ramdiskoptions}"
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set --%{default} systemroot \WINDOWS
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set --%{default} winpe Yes
    bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set --%{default} detecthal Yes
    cmd /c "bcdedit /store $BCDFileName /set {ramdiskoptions} ramdisktftpblocksize $TFTPBlockSize"
    }

Using the example inputs will generate the following output (bcdedit /store boot.LiteTouchPE_x64.bcd /enum all):

Windows Boot Manager
--------------------
identifier              {bootmgr}
description             Boot Manager
fontpath                \Boot\Fonts
default                 {default}

Windows Boot Loader
-------------------
identifier              {default}
device                  ramdisk=[boot]\Images\LiteTouchPE_x64\boot.LiteTouchPE_x64.wim,{ramdiskoptions}
description             LiteTouchPE_x64
osdevice                ramdisk=[boot]\Images\LiteTouchPE_x64\boot.LiteTouchPE_x64.wim,{ramdiskoptions}
systemroot              \WINDOWS
detecthal               Yes
winpe                   Yes

Setup Ramdisk Options
---------------------
identifier              {ramdiskoptions}
description             Windows PE
ramdisksdidevice        boot
ramdisksdipath          \boot.sdi
ramdisktftpblocksize    8192

And if you were wondering if I got 1E PXE Everywhere to boot a MDT LiteTouch boot image – the answer is absolutely!

Originally posted on https://miketerrill.net/