How to - System Centre Configuration Manager - Part 5 (Task Sequences - for OS/Apps)
by, 14th April 2012 at 04:09 PM (22121 Views)
Welcome to Part 5 of my now EPIC System Centre Configuration Manager (SCCM) series! Heres the 2nd of your "two for you money" weekend deal :-p. So - this time round we are going introduce a new dark art - Task Sequences. These are the power of SCCM; and will actually get your deployment off the ground. After anything specific Ive not covered, or that you think Ive missed, please comment or send me a PM. Alternatively, you can find me on Twitter @TheScarfedOne.
Introduction to a dark art
sequences are the power of SCCM… they are what actually controls what happens on your machines. There isnt much you cant do with them… they are incredibly powerful. Task Sequences can be linked to Operating Systems, Drivers, Applications, Scripts, Software Updates – well, most things like I said.
To start with, we need to create a Task Sequence (TS) to install Windows 7 in unattended mode to a target machine; and then to capture that install (including SysPrepping it – remember as you did in XP) and save it on the Server for us to use later. Thankfully – SCCM makes this easy for us, as one of the options on the New TS menu is “New Build and Capture”… nice work guys! See... not such a dark art maybe!
Creating your first TS
So, lets get started (I have attached a sample TS for Build and Capture which you can import if you wish – but its good to try doing it yourself once to get a feel for the TS environment… you will be doing a lot in here once you get running with SCCM!)…
Now… I don’t like where TS has been put in SCCMs interface; as you can do more than OS’s with them. But, hey ho, it is under the Operating System Deployment node. So, right click and choose New Task Sequence from the options shown.
As I said, the developers did a great job here (apart from where in the interface it appears… grumble grumble)… so choose the obvious choice - Build and capture a reference operating system image.
Give the it a sensible name such as Windows 7 - BUILD and CAPTURE, followed by clicking on browse to choose your boot.wim file (the ones we created right back in the first posts in this series), choose the 32 bit one.
Next up - SCCM needs to know what operating system we want to install – so it can do all its fancy stuff in the background. Now, assuming that you have followed my previous blogs on this series – you should see your Windows 7 DVD option in the browse and drop downs. If you don’t – you have probably fallen foul of the main mistake people make in SCCM. That is that you have built a Package (and that Package could be OS, Application, Drivers…) but not added distribution points! This happens a lot, but remember – every time you make a package – you MUST distribute it before it is available. With Applications and Drivers, it will tend to be a “Fails to install” or “Fails to run” with error 8004005.
For the Build and Capture, you don’t need to worry about the Product Key. It doesn’t need it. When doing your actual deploy, then you should use your appropriate one. Again, on the password option – for your “Master image” you don’t need to do this – as you will actually set this on the Task Sequence you use to send out your captured image to machines.
Next up is setting the network configuration – where you should choose Join Workgroup. This is obvious really, keeping it off the domain will keep it clean.
We also need to specify the Configuration Manager Client installation package we created earlier from the predefined packages, select it by clicking on browse and selecting the package.
SCCM has the power to install OS and other updates (supported by WSUS) as part of the build. Again, as this is a Master image, you will likely have already slipstreamed in SP1, or got the SP1 media. I would recommend that you choose 'don't install' any software updates. As part of your actual deployment of the captured image, you might want this enabled – and choose the set you have ready. That is outside the scope here – but as the feature appears here – it made sense to cover it off.
Install software with your Master or after your Master
Ive split this section out from the main article – as there are two schools of thought on this. Some people prefer some of their applications to be included as part of their master image. Others think they should all go on after.
On as part of the image will slightly decrease the install time – depending how many apps you include, but on the flip side – your image will be bigger. This may take longer to transfer to your clients at build time, and maintenance of your image (see updating applications) be a bit more testy! Doing it after image time, as part of your deployment gives you more choice and control over where and when apps go out. You can also strip them back off machines reasonably easily.
The choice is yours!
Anyway – where is how you would do it. On the “Install Software” screen - click on the yellow star and select a software package you have created. The screenshots here show a Firefox package. Software packages must contain a program (the program tells the package what to do) – and each may contain more than one program. You select the one you want.
Finishing off your Build and Caputure after our detour
Remember I mentioned SysPrep earlier. Well, if you were deploying XP - then you would need to select the package here. However, all OSs since Vista have the sysprep built in so no need!
Next up, well nearly done, is giving some extra description information to our Image. This will help you identify it later when you are building up a catlogue of images.
Finally, we need to give SCCM all the details about where on the network we will store the image once it's built it. Remember in the last article we were creating a load of shares and folders? Well, we will be using one of those so \\SERVER\SCCM-IMAGES\SCCM-Win7-x86-DATE.wim should do nicely. Oh, you also need to give SCCM an account to logon to this share with.
You will get the usual summary screen next – and that’s it! Your first foray into the world of Task Sequences! Want to take a deeper dive and see whats going on under the surface? Why not…
Task Sequences… a deeper dive
When the Task Sequence is complete, you can right click on it and and choose Edit. By default, SCCM comes with 28 tasks that can be added to the task sequences. This includes everything from partitioning, joining the domain, formatting and setting up disks in addition; and - the integration with MDT (Microsoft Deployment Toolkit) means that MDT adds an additional 9 tasks. This is where you could define where to add SERVER ROLES AND FEATURES for Windows Server 2008.
Options can be added from the Add dropdown, and edited in the window on the right. At the moment, this TS does nothing – until we assign it to a Collection in SCCM.
And that’s whats coming up in Part 6, and Part 7 will show you the end results. That should be up shortly (Im writing them both at the moment!).
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