Windows Deployment Services (WDS): Installation & Configuration

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)
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What is Windows Deployment Services Server?

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) is a server role that provides a simplified and secure means of remotely deploying Microsoft Operating Systems to computers over the network. For a WDS to install OS on a remote computer, the computer must be PXE-enabled.

In this tutorial, you will learn how to:

  • Install and Configure the Windows Deployment Services (WDS) role
  • Configure and Manage Boot, Install and Discover images.

If you wish to perform the tasks in this tutorial you need one Windows server. Preferably Windows Server 2016.

Install and Configure the Windows Deployment Services (WDS) role

WDS can be installed as a Transport or Deployment Server, or both. These options are available when installing the role using Server Manager.

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Transport Server

This option provides a subset of the functionality of Windows Deployment Services. It contains only the core networking parts which you can use to transmit data on a stand-alone server. Transport server uses multicasting for data transmission.

You can also use transport server if you want to have a PXE server that allows clients to PXE boot and download your own custom setup application. You should use this option if you want to use either of these scenarios, but you do not want to incorporate all the components of WDS.

Deployment Server

This option provides the full functionality of Windows Deployment Services. Provides all the options to configure and remotely install Windows operating systems. Deployment Server is dependent on the core parts of Transport Server.

You can install WDS server role via Server Manager or by using Windows PowerShell. After the Windows Deployment Services role is installed, the server has to be configured before it can be used for automated Windows Operating system deployment.

WDS can be configured as a stand-alone or Active Directory-integrated server. In this tutorial, I will show you how to configure Windows Deployment Services as an Active Directory-integrated server .

Important WDS Installation Notes and Requirements

  • A Deployment Server requires a DNS and DHCP servers on the network.
  • Both Deployment and Transport server requires an NTFS partition for the file store.
  • After installation, you must configure WDS either by using WDSUtil.exe or running Windows Deployment Services Configuration wizard.
  • You must add at least one boot image and one install image to the image store.

Important Tip

A boot image provides the initial environment you boot a computer to while an install image is the Operating System image.

If you follow this tutorial step-by-step, I will walk you through how to meet the outlined requirements. This tutorial does not include DNS and/or DHCP setup.

Important Tip

For your PXE clients to be able to lease IP addresses, configure your DHCP scope for both DHCP and BOOTP. See image below for details.
Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

How to Install the Windows Deployment Services Role

The steps below will guide you to install Windows Deployment Services (WDS) role:

  • Log on to the server and open Server Manager (should launch by default).
  • From Server Manager click Manage then select Add Roles and Features.

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Windows Deployment Services (WDS) - add roles and features

  • On the Before you begin screen, click Next.

  • Next, select Role-based or feature-based installation and click Next.
Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

  • Next, on the Select Destination server page, select the server you wish to install Windows Deployment Services Role.
  • On the Server Role page, check the box beside Windows Deployment Services. A page will load asking you to confirm additional features to install. Click Add Features. Then click Next.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

  • On the Select roles services page, check both Deployment Server and Transport Server. Note that if you check Deployment Server you MUST also check Transport Server. However, you can check Transport Server without checking Deployment Server.

  • When you get to the Confirmation page, review your selections then click Install.

To install the Windows Deployment Services role with Windows PowerShell, run the command below:

Install-WindowsFeature –Name WDS –IncludeManagementTools

Configuring Windows Deployment Services

You can configure WDS with the steps below:

  • Open Server Manager. Then click Tools and select Windows Deployment Services. The WDS management console opens.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) - WDS management console

  • Expand Servers. Then right-click the WDS server and select Configure Server. The configuration wizard opens.

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  • On the Before You Begin page, read the requirements then click Next.

  • Select the integrate with Active Directory option. Click Next.

  • Enter a path for your remote installation folder or accept the default.

Important Tip

In a production environment, I strongly recommend having your remote installation folder in a drive other than C.

  • Note the information on the Proxy DHCP Server page then click Next.

  • Configure settings for the PXE server.

  • Finally, wait for the wizard to complete the configuration. Click Finish.

  • Start the Windows Deployment Services (WDS) service: Right-click the server, point to All Tasks and click Start.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

The above task can also be accomplished by running the following command:

WDSUtil.exe /Initialize-Server /Server:RolesSRV1 /REMINST:"D:\RemoteInstall"

To revert changes made during the server configuration or Initialization, execute the command:

WDSUtil.exe /UnInitialize-Server /Server:RolesSRV1 

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Configure and Manage Boot, Install, and Discover Images

After configuring Windows Deployment Services server, the next step is to add the necessary image files. The following images are required:

Boot Images: Boot images are Windows PE images that you boot a client computer into to perform an operating system installation. In most scenarios, you should use the Boot.wim file from the OS installation media.

Install Images: Install images are the operating system images that you deploy to the client computer. You can also use the Install.wim file from the OS installation media.

Discover Images: In some circumstances, A computer might not have PXE-enabled network cards. In this situation, discover images may be created and used to install operating system on those computers.

A discover image may be saved on a media (CD, DVD, or USB drive), and a client computer may then be booted with the media. The discover image on the media locates a Windows Deployment Services server, and the server deploys the install image to the computer.

Important Note

Discover images are not required to use Windows Deployment Services.

Prepare Boot and Install Images for Windows Deployment Services

  • Copy boot.wim from Windows 10 DVD (if you have a Windows 10 ISO, mount it. Boot.wim is located in the sources folder.

To create install.wim from Windows 10 DVD, follow the steps below:

  • Open command prompt with administrator privileges (search command prompt, right-click it then select run as administrator)
  • Run the command below:
dism /Get-WimInfo /WimFile:D:\sources\install.esd

Below is the output of the command. Note the index number of the edition you wish to create install.wim for. I am creating a install.wim file for Windows 10 Pro. Index number is 6.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS) - get index of OS edition

  • To create for Windows 10 pro, execute the command below:
dism /Export-Image /SourceImageFile:D:\sources\install.esd /SourceIndex:6 /DestinationImageFile:C:\WimFiles\install.wim /Compress:Max /CheckIntegrity

The export process will commence. See image below. When it reaches 100%, the wim file is ready.

Add Boot and Install Images to Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

To add an install image, follow the steps below:

  • From Server Manager, open Windows Deployment Services. Expand the Servers Node. Then expand your WDS server name.
  • Right-click Install Images then click Add Install Image.

  • On the Image Group window, enter a name then click Next.

  • Enter path to your install.wim then click Next.

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  • Select the Operating System Image then click Next.

  • On the Summary page, click Next. Wait for the image to be added.

  • Windows 10 install image is now available in Windows Deployment Services!

Important Tip

You can add multiple Install.wim images. For instance you could have an image for different editions of the same OS. Alternatively, you could add images for different Operating Systems.

The steps below will walk you through adding a boot image.

  • From the WDS console, right-click Boot Images and select Add Boot Image.
  • Enter the path to your boot.wim file. Click Next.

  • Rename the boot image to a more user-friendly name. The image name will be displayed for selection during a PXE-boot.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

  • On the Summary page, click Next. Then wait for the image to be imported.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

  • The boot image is now available.

Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Creating Discover Images

To create a discover image follow the steps below:

  • Right-click the boot image you created earlier and select Create Discover Image.

  • On the Metadata and Location page, enter all information. For the name of the Windows Deployment Services server, click Browse then use the Active Directory search tool to search for the server. When you finish click Next.

There you have it. If you have any questions or comments, kindly use the “Leave a Reply” form below.

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