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Windows Deployment Services (WDS): Boot Image Changes Not Happening For You?


We use Windows Deployment Services (WDS) at work. There is a lot I really like about this deployment solution but there are a few things here and there that I wish were a little different. More specifically, how the system deals with boot image changes. It’s easy to forget that when you update your deployment share you still need to remember to copy your new boot image into your actual remoteInstall share PXE uses to pull the image. Otherwise your changes won’t be seen by PXE clients.

We started purchasing new Dell Latitude E6420 laptops to add to our fleet and as with any new computer model you wish to deploy Windows to via WDS, you need to obtain the driver cab file from the manufacturer to add the appropriate drivers into your WDS boot image. I added the drivers as usual to the Out of box drivers section of the deployment share, updated the share to rebuild the boot image and boot it up of PXE but Windows setup kept complaining that there was no driver present for the network adapter to continue. As it had been a while since I had to update anything in my WDS I had completely forgotten to move my new boot image into the right path for PXE to pick up. “Why haven’t my changes updated in the image during the update of the share”? Well, they had, I just wasn’t booting the right image.

When you update your deployment share, The deployment workbench typically creates/update the boot image stored in DeploymentShare\Boot but PXE pulls the boot image from WDS from here \\server\remoteInstall\boot\x64\images\<imagename.wim>.

So, to have workstations pull the correct image to apply you simply need to make sure you’ve copied the latest boot image with all your changes into your WDS set-up. You can manually copy/paste the new boot image over the old one using the paths above, or you can use the Windows Deployment Services snap-in to do the same job.

Open the deployment snap-in (%windir%\system32\WdsMgmt.msc) and:

  1. Expand your server and click ‘Boot Images’ to see a list of your boot images
  2. Right-click ‘Boot Images’ and select ‘Add Boot Image’
  3. Browse to the deployment share boot image directory (DeploymentShare\Boot). Click Next
  4. Give your boot image a name and description. Click Next
  5. Check the summary and click next to add the new boot image to your deployment server.
If you only have 1 image like I did you’ll now see 2 different boot images. If you don’t want to see a boot selection screen when you boot your machines off PXE, just right-click a boot image and select disable so its not used.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that when you update your deployment share with boot image changes (drivers, application selections, etc) they will take effect immediately but computers won’t start using the new boot image until you’ve added it to your WDS server for PXE to grab. You would need to remember to do this each time you add new drivers, make application install changes, make any changes to deployment rules (bootstrap.ini), etc.
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