Windows Deployment Services (WDS) is Microsoft’s operating system deployment tool that is free as part of Windows Server. Even though WDS is free it is very feature-rich when used with Microsoft Deployment Toolkit and Windows ADK. In this tutorial, we will walk through the process of installing WDS, adding an install image, and deploying this image to a client.
A prerequisite of installing WDS is having a DHCP server on your network. This can be on the same server as WDS or another server. For this demo, we will use the same server.
To install the required roles, open PowerShell and run the following commands.
Notice that unless your server has a static IP address, PowerShell will warn you to set a static IP for the DHCP server. To do this, run the following commands.
To configure DHCP, open the DHCP Management Console by running dhcpmgmt.msc.
From the DHCP console, expand your server from the console tree and right-click on IPv4. Choose New Scope…. In the New Scope Wizard, click Next and then type a name and optionally a description for your scope.
Click Next. Specify an address range that belongs to the subnet of the network adapter on this server. My IP address was 10.39.43.6/24 so the range of addresses that the scope distributes needs to be between 10.39.43.1 and 10.39.43.254 — it can be smaller than this. Next you will specify exclusion ranges within this address range. We have no need for exclusion ranges so you may continue to the Lease Duration page of the wizard.
Since this subnet is only for deploying images to computers, a lease time of two hours should be fine. Keep in mind that DHCP clients try to renew their lease halfway through the lease time — reimaging shouldn’t take more than an hour for a single machine so a two-hour lease is ideal.
After configuring the DHCP lease time you will be asked if you want to configure DHCP options. Select Yes and then click Next. Specify your default gateway(s) for this subnet, if you have any.
Next, you will add your DNS servers, connection-specific suffix, and WINS server.
After you are finished configuring the scope options, choose Yes, activate this scope now.
Open the WDS Management Console by running wdsmgmt.msc. In the console tree, expand Servers and then right-click on your server. Choose Configure Server.
After ensuring that your environment meets the prerequisites to configure a WDS server, click Next.
Choose Integrated with Active Directory and then Next.
When choosing a path to store the remote install files, ensure that this is a NTFS volume and that, in the case of a production environment, it is not the system volume (generally C:).
Next you will be asked about the DHCP options for WDS. Since DHCP is running on the local server, select both tickboxes. Click Next.
Now you will be asked which clients the WDS server should respond to. Generally it is okay to choose Respond to all client computers (known and unknown) but if your deployment calls for heightened security, choose Respond only to known client computers.
After you are finished configuring WDS options, the service will start.
Add a Boot Image
Next, in File Explorer, mount the ISO disk image for the Windows operating system that you want to deploy.
Back in WDS, right-click the Boot Images folder beneath your server in the console tree and choose Add Boot Image. Click Browse and navigate to the virtual CD/DVD drive that is the mounted ISO. In the “sources” directory, select the “boot.wim” file.
Give the image a sensible name and description. Press Next and complete the rest of the Add Image Wizard.
Add an Install Image
Right-click Install Images in the console tree and choose New Image Group. Give it a sensible name. In the console tree, right-click your new image group and choose Add Install Image….
Browse to the “install.wim” file in the same directory as “boot.wim” or if you are using a custom sysprepped install image, browse to that WIM file. In the picture below, I am using the custom WIM from the Capture Custom Windows Images (ImageX) tutorial.
After the install image has been added, the server is ready to begin deploying images to client computers. Simply PXE boot the computer and follow the on-screen prompts.
Check back soon for a walk-through about creating unattended answer files for automating Windows Deployment Services OS installation!