Debugging an MDT build that fails to start

If you’ve been using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), aka Deployment4, then you will have probably had the scenario at some point where you PXE boot your client into PE and then the whole process just stops.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) Non-Starter

The giveaway sign here is that you have the command prompt returned to you.

This can be a bit perplexing, as to what your next move should be in working out what went wrong. During the Beta I was given a helpful hint from the MS guys:

cscript.exe x:\deploy\scripts\litetouch.wsf /debug:true

This provides a bit more output and has been successful in pointing me in the direction of whatever was causing the grief.
Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT) Starting with Debugging
The last line is the important one in this example. The path with “broken” in it is showing that I had entered the wrong BuildID in the computers details configuration. That would explain why it couldn’t find the TaskSequence in question! ;)

Microsoft Deployment RTM’s

Microsoft has just announced the release of Microsoft Deployment. There’s nothing on the Deployment blog as yet, or on the Microsoft Connect site, but the Microsoft Download site has been updated, and the email is out.

During email exchanges with Michael Niehaus and Tim Mintner a couple of weeks ago I felt that things were very close – they were replying to my email at 1am their time!

The jump from Beta3 to RC1 was a big one, and I felt the product mature a lot in that short space. I’m really pleased with how MS have developed this new incarnation of BDD. There’s loads of good features under the hood to get an automated deployment up and running in next to no time, and its free! ;)

Congratulations on the hard work guys!

Deployment4 Beta 3 Observations

For the last few days, I’ve been looking into the next revision of BDD 2007 – Deployment4.

The first thing that I like about this is that it will now officially support server deployments, as well as desktops. This gives you a good robust, free deployment mechanism for your environment if you don’t want to go heavy duty and get into SCCM (essentials etc).

I have a few scripts, which I use with BDD 2007, to perform things like configuring static IP addresses, and dealing with the XP/2003 Uber bug. Now I haven’t checked the Uber bug is resolved, but you can now configure static IP through the Workbench.

Now I will caveat my observations to say that I’m still pretty new to BDD/Dep4 and the stuff that I’ve seen could just be a PICNIC error ;)

1) There appears to be no keyboard navigation through configuring the details of your Computer/Role/Make and Model/Location object.
On the details tab, which contains your “unattend.txt”-esque configuration options, there doesn’t appear to be anyway of actually navigating your way down the page. It’s a case of mouse in one hand keyboard with the other as you set Display Resolution etc.

2) No multiple assignment ability for driver groups.
When I point the “Out-Of-Box” drivers wizard at the Dell PowerEdge driver CD, it imports about 50 drivers. Great. Now I want to assign them to, say, “Dell PowerEdge Servers” driver group. As fas as I can see this has to be done one driver at a time!

3) Static IP assisgnment, one server per Task Sequence. Really?
I added a new task to a “standard server task sequence” object that I created (formerly known as “builds”). Here you have the ability to add configuration objects, for what appears to be per-NIC. You can give it a name, and then the usual IP data (DHCP, DNS/WINS/Static data). What strikes me as odd is that this appears to be the IP address data for this Task Sequence. That makes the TS only useful to one server. I would have thought that this should be configured under a lower node, more specific to the Computer/Location etc?

4) A new deployment doesn’t appear to be able to use “SkipWizard=YES”. In a quirk (which I suspect I might have read in the release notes to be fair) results in the information given when creating a new Task Sequence (Product Key, Local Admin Password etc) not being retained when you deploy a machine. If you then try and deploy a new machine and have selected to Skip the Wizard in PE, everything just kinda stops after wpeinit.

It works if you step through the wizard (Next, Next Next *yawn*), and you’ve also populated the missing data (Product Code, Local Admin Password) under the details tab, but still, why?

Now, as I said before this could be just me (really, please someone tell me I missed something here), but if it’s not then this seems pretty strange stuff to be experiencing in a Beta 3 release IMHO. Well point 4) is, the rest of course, could just be “By Design”.

Don’t get me wrong I actually really like BDD/Dep 4. The ease of getting a build up and running to deployed is excellent. And I love the way I can throw almost anything at it to get the job done – .Reg, VBS, MSI, EXE, PS1 it will do anything you need it to do – so far ;)

I’ve submitted the above as “feedback” on Connect so I guess we’ll wait and see. I’m hoping some bright tech out there will post in the comments that I’m a muppet and it works fine if you do …. ;)