Installing and Configuring WDS (Windows Deployment Services)


- Windows Server 2008/ R2 for the WDS server .

- Active Directory and DNS up and working.

- DHCP server available and authorized by Active Directory on your network. Linux DHCP servers do not need to be authorized by AD.

- On the client side: NICs PXE compliant.

- Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK). (Optional) And if we want to create our own unattended files. We will use the kit to create our Unattended Files for installation.


To install WDS on a Windows Server 2008 you only need to add the Windows Deployment Services role from the “Add Role Wizard“.
Select the role services to install for Windows Deployment Services: Deployment Server & Transport Server.


Once installed, access the “Windows Deployment Services” snap-in.

On the console, to get started right-click on the listed server and select “Configure Server”.

Configuring the Server

- After you selected the folder where you are going to store all the images for WDS, you need to check on the DHCP settings. The wizard will explain about this option.

Since I have a Microsoft-DHCP Server working on a different server from the WDS, these two options will remain unchecked. If you have both, WDS and DHCP, on the same server you should check both options.

- Response Configurations: This is where you set to which clients you will respond when you receive a PXE request.

The difference between known clients and unknown is set on if the Computer Object exists in Active Directory.

If you want to create the computer objects before running WDS on that computer, you should have the GUID of that computer and include that information on the computer object. When you create the object on Active Directory, using “Active Directory Users and Computers” you need to set that “This is a managed computer” and insert the GUID.
Selecting this option can be really annoying if you want to improve your deployment, because you have to add the object first in Active Directory every time you want to deploy an image, but it’s of course the more secure option to apply.

Or you can use the option “For unknown clients, notify administrator and respond after approval”. With this option, all the unknown clients that request to boot from PXE will appear to you in“Pending Devices” on your console, from there you can approve or decline them.

Or simply use the option “Respond to all (unknown and known) computer clients” and when you don’t need WDS, you can just stop the service to avoid any rogue clients.

Adding Boot Images

Before creating a complete image to be deployed with WDS, we need to add first a Windows Pre-Installation image (WindowsPE). With this image we provide the server with a pre installation environment needed for all installations. WindowsPE comes, as all the new operating systems, in a WIM format, included in the Windows 2008 installation media.

1 - To add the image, expand the server options in the console and in “Boot Images” select “Add Boot Image”. Remember that this WindowsPE that we are adding will be the same for all the operating systems that we are going to use with WDS.
2 - Select “Browse” and check in the Windows 2008 installation media for the folder “Sources” and the file “boot.wim”. This is our WindowsPE.
3 - Select the name for this image and click on “Next”. Microsoft Windows (x64)
4 - Review the summary and click on “Next”.

And now the Windows Pre-Installation Environment is available to boot from your network.

A clean installation?

The procedure to add a clean installation to WDS it’s pretty simple and practically the same procedure as for the boot image.

1 – On the WDS console, right click on “Install Images” and select “Add Image Group

2 – Select the name that you are going to use for this group.
For Example: Win7Installation.

3 – Right click on “Install Images” again and select “Add Install Image”. When the wizard starts select to use the group you’ve just created and click “Next”.

4 – On the next window, browse the media for the folder “Sources” and select the file “install.wim” and click “Next

5 – Since the installations always include all the versions on the same file, we should select only the one that applys to our case. Click “Next

6 – On the summary window click “Next” and the image will start to upload to your server.

At this point we have all the necessary components to deploy a clean image from the network; but the installation remains attended. So, the disk configuration and the OS options (language, product key, computer name, etc) still need to be manually inserted.

Deploying the First Install Image

After a WDS server has at least one boot image and one install image, the imaging process should be tested before any additional configurations are performed. Prior to testing the imaging process, we need to check the properties of the WDS server and the DHCP server scope options. To verify these settings, perform the following tasks:

After these precheck steps are completed, the imaging process can begin. To deploy an image to a system using PXE boot, perform the following steps:

This completes the installation process of a default WDS image.

Install Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT)

You'll need the MDT bits, if you don't already have them. Just download and install the application, take all the default settings, and in moments you will have a basic install of MDT. When you get into the Workbench choose “Components” on the left hand side. Anything that says “Required” is well… REQUIRED (WAIK). Click on each link and choose the “Download” button as it appears to download the required components. 

Create a deployment share. Choose where the deployment share will be and name the share (hidden $). Describe the share and allow image capture checked. Then allow the user to set admin password, and ask user for a product key. Now you have a deployment share.

Under deployment share, right-click "Operating System" then Import Operating System. Here I select “Full set of source files”, but if you already have a custom .WIM, or WDS images, you can select that. Click “Browse”, Locate your image/installation disk then click “Ok”, then name the directory. The OS will be imported.

Right-click on "Task Sequences" then select New Task Sequence, give the task an ID (numbers), name, and description. Select "Sysprep and Capture", click on the OS. Select “Do not specify a product key at this time”. Change OS settings as you like. Set a local administrator password. You now have a new task sequence.

Right-click on your share name, and select “Update Deployment Share”, I have found that compressing this speeds things up later (optional).

Import Operating System. Under deployment share, right-click "Operating System" then Import.

Add Applications

Right-click Applications and select New Application. Application with source files. Browse for the source directory, accept the directory name to be created.

Create Capture file

  1. Highlight the boot image name in the right pane of the WDS gui, right-click on it, and choose Create Capture Boot Image.
  2. In the next Windows (capture image metadata) leave the Image Name and Image Descriptions alone, and click on the Browse button. Browse to the RemoteInstall\Boot\X86\Images folder (or X64 if using X64), this folder is part of the original WDS setup. Give the filename you are about to create a name eg: RemoteInstall\Boot\X86\Images\windows-boot_capture and click open, then click next, the wizard will auto append .WIM to the filename. The wizard will now start to extract the image from the source image file. Once it is complete, click Finish.
  3. Add the capture file to WDS. In WDS, select Boot Images in the left pane. In the Right Pane (in an empty area) right-click and choose Add Boot Image... In the add image file window, browse to RemoteInstall\Boot\X86\Images and select the capture file you created above, click open and then next.
  4. Set the Image name to 'WDS Capture Image' and the Image description to 'WDS to capture images', click next. Review the choices and click next to add this capture boot image.

PXE boot target computer and capture image

  1. Ensure that PXE boot is enabled in boot sequence, and PXE boot (using your onboard NIC) to the WDS server. Press F12 when prompted for Network Service boot. In the Windows Boot Manager Menu, select WDS Capture Image from the available options.
  2. After Windows PE has booted, you should see a welcome screen which says "Welcome to the Windows Deployment Services image Capture Wizard". Click next to begin.
  3. Image capture source. There are three options here, Volume to capture, Image name, and image description.
    Note: If the Volume to Capture drop-down appears blank then verify that you have sysprepped the image you are trying to capture.
    If you need to sysprep the machine, then read this guide and then return here when ready.
    If volume to capture still doesnt show up after sysprepping, then perhaps the boot image may need storage drivers (SATA). To verify this, once you're booted, press Shift+F10 and see if you can see the hard drive.
    For Volume to Capture, select C:\ from the drop down menu (will not be present unless you have SYSPREPPED)
    For Image Name call it 'Windows XP sp3 Capture'
    For Image Description, enter 'WDS - Windows captured image'
  4. Image Capture Destination:
    Here you have the possibility of storing the image on a drive (local) by choosing Name and Location, and clicking Browse and giving the image a filename, the wizard will auto-append .wim to the file name eg: c:\optiplex330-xp.wim.

    Next you want to upload the image directly to your WDS server by putting a check mark in the 'Upload Image to WDS server' option, you will have to provide the servername (or use the ip address eg: and then click on the connect button. After some moments you'll be prompted with a username/password prompt for connecting to the server. I entered Administrator as the user and entered the correct password and selected 'remember my password', followed by 'ok'.

    You will now see the 'Image Group Name' option on the Windows Deployment Services Image Capture Wizard allows you to drop down the menu, and from here you can select the captured images group.

    Click Finish to continue (and capture the image). The image capture wizard will start capturing the image and you'll see a 'Percent Complete: x%' dialogue box.

    After a fairly long while of file copying, Click Close to conclude the image capture process, congratulations you've captured an image using WDS !

    Note: that at this point Windows will exit and the computer will reboot. If you don't want it to boot into sysprep then you'll have to be quick and turn it off at the bios screen.

    The captured image will have been copied to D:\RemoteInstall\Images\WindowsXP, in addition it will be stored locally on the computer you captured the image on.