If you spend a lot of time doing OS deployment with Configuration Manager, you know there are a lot of changes and expanded functionality introduced with ConfigMgr 2012. This presents a bit of a learning curve as the workflow process for many functions has changed. The upcoming release of ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 brings some great new enhancements to the OS deployment functionality.
PXE Support Defaults
One of the steps that seems to trip up even seasoned ConfigMgr admins the first time is the process of fully enabling PXE support for OS deployment. In SCCM 2007, once the PXE Service Point role was added (and you had your network settings all figured out) you simply deployed the boot images to the SMSPXEIMAGE$ share and you were off and running. In ConfigMgr 2012, the PXE Service Point role does not exist; you just enable PXE support on the Distribution Point role in the console:
The catch is that simply enabling PXE on the Distribution Point and distributing the boot images to that Distribution Point is not enough…you also have to enable PXE on the boot image itself!
In ConfigMgr 2012 RTM, this box is not checked by default. However, with the release of ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 this box will be checked by default, eliminating this extra (often missed) step!
Another benefit with ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 is the ability to add optional components to WinPE without having to use the command line to mount the boot images. The Optional Components tab allows you to select common WinPE components (such as PowerShell 3, or HTA support for custom front ends) and have ConfigMgr automatically add them to the boot image:
Task Sequence Deployment Types
ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 also allows you to be more granular (read “careful”) with your Task Sequence Deployments. When you step through the Deploy Software Wizard for a Task Sequence and set it as a Required deployment, you are now presented with a dropdown list with selections for specific cases as to who will actually run the deployment:
The available options are as follows:
Only Configuration Manager Clients – The Deployment will only run from within the OS on a machine running the ConfigMgr client.
Configuration Manager clients, media and PXE – Basically, the deployment will run from anywhere…from within the OS on a ConfigMgr client, from boot media, or from PXE boot.
Only media and PXE – This option will only allow the Task Sequence to run if the computer is running WinPE. This is a great option allowing you to put a Task Sequence Deployment out there for deploying a new OS and not worry about it firing off on existing clients, inadvertently blowing away a user’s workstation.
Only media and PXE (hidden) – Thus far undocumented, the scoop from Wally Mead at TechEd UK (via Steve Beaumont) is that this option is “great for making a task sequence available for all devices for re-imaging without having to add clients to a re-image collection and without accidentally re-imaging all devices!”
While many are awaiting ConfigMgr 2012 SP1 for the full support of Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012, there are also many great functionality and workflow improvements included that shouldn’t be overlooked!