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The Power of Task Sequences, Part 3, OS Deployments

This is part 3 of many!  For the most part, this is same content/notes that I had done as part of my SCCM Guru sponsored webcast in early 2012.

Operating System Deployments

Throughout this presentation, I have exposed several ways for selective decision logic to automate various software installations and other administrative tasks.  They had nothing to do with operating system deployment.  The reality is that task sequences were originally created to facilitate OS deployment.   I would need to get beside myself if I didn’t at least mention some cool things that can help you all out in your OS task sequences.

Consolidating Everything into a Single Image and Task Sequence

Core Image Build and Capture

One of the most common themes I hear around the industry related to general OS management is that business are attempting to manage more than a single image.  Dealing with the effort to build and maintain multiple images creates huge overhead in costs.  There is only scenario in which there absolutely must be more than a single image – when the OS and architecture are different.  For example, you would need one image for 32-bit Windows XP, one for 32-bit Windows 7, and one for 64-bit Windows 7.  Rarely should there be a reason for multiple images that have the same core OS.

Generally speaking, your image build and capture should only ever contain Windows, Office, other Microsoft enhancements such as MSXML or .NET, maybe a newer Internet Explorer, and security updates.  If you build your image in this way, then you can easily get away with only updating your images only once or twice per year to include new security updates.

Core Image Deployment

That info was just for capturing your core image.  Other software and configurations still need to be accomplished in order for the PC to be functional for the business.  Unfortunately, there are administrators who may say that while it’s great to have just a single image, they still need multiple task sequences to service for different departments or different hardware.  Well, here’s the great news: with the power of task sequences, you can consolidate all of those task sequences into one!

In this example, using our core image, we will create a robust deployment task sequence.

  • Two different computer models: one laptop and one desktop
  • Software that is only for laptops (such as VPN)
  • Software differences for desktops which are different between a kiosk user desktop and an office user desktop (such as Citrix)
  • Software that can only be installed on accounting computers (calculator tool)
  • Option to enter the computer name

Expanding OS Deployment Functionality

The deployment task sequence we just constructed is a good step in the right direction.  But what if you need to provide additional functionality for the imaging process?  Such as the ability to

  • Enter a computer name of choice
  • Select a time zone
  • Select the Active Directory OU in which to join the computer
  • Select additional one-off applications to be automatically installed

One of the most common ways to do these is to use a customized prompt written as HTML Application, or just HTA.  There are many people in the systems management community, including myself, who have blogged our HTAs as examples.  Optionally, the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit 2010 Update 1 contains those abilities natively, and provides the most versatile solution when it’s integrated with ConfigMgr.  Discussion how to write your own HTA or use MDT is outside what I am going to explain today, so if you’re unfamiliar with either of these products, I suggest using your favorite search engine or you can contact me.

Returning to the original goal of extending the task sequence features, I have prebuilt an HTA which utilize both built-in and custom task sequence variables to

  • Supply a computer name (OSDComputerName)
  • Time zone selection (OSDTimezone set and step blank)
  • OU options (OSDDomainOUName set and step blank)
  • Choosing one-off applications (Custom variables)

Filed under: ConfigMgr 07, The Power of Task Sequences

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Hello and thanks for reading my blog (! My hope is that information I post is useful to others! If you found that a solution did help you, or if you have questions, feel free to drop a comment on the post. I primarily blog on my IT experiences with ConfigMgr and desktop engineering. I am a 10 year, seasoned professional with ConfigMgr and systems management. I co-facilitate and present for the local user group in Denver, am an active blogger on topics for ConfigMgr and systems management techniques, involved in forums for Microsoft and MyITForum, and have been a speaker for events such as BDNA's SCCM Guru Webcast Series (March 2012), the Microsoft Management Summit (April 2013), and BDNA's Microsoft Master Webcast Series (Jan. 2014).

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