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  1.    27 Jul 2016 #81
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 69
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    @RBunning

    I would first want to capture my reference machine's image before I modify WinPE's .wim with the batch scripts and such, correct? I would think that would be necessary; otherwise, the batch scripts would run when you booted to your USB on your reference machine and you would unintentionally wipe your reference machine's drive.

    And when I commit a change to the mounted WinPE directory, does that auto-update the boot.wim file in the media folder?

    Can the assigned Windows partition letter change dynamically on a given machine? When I first did this on my reference machine, the Windows partition had an assigned letter of E: and the system partition assigned C:. I figured that that would stay the same; however, when I just tried to capture my reference machine's image again, I noticed that the Windows partition is now F: and the system partition still C:. Kind of odd that the Windows partition would change letter...
    Last edited by ahelton; 27 Jul 2016 at 11:35.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    27 Jul 2016 #82
    Join Date : Jul 2016
    Posts : 58
    Windows 10 Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by ahelton View Post
    @RBunning

    I would first want to capture my reference machine's image before I modify WinPE's .wim with the batch scripts and such, correct? I would think that would be necessary; otherwise, the batch scripts would run when you booted to your USB on your reference machine and you would unintentionally wipe your reference machine's drive.

    And when I commit a change to the mounted WinPE directory, does that auto-update the boot.wim file in the media folder?

    Can the assigned Windows partition letter change dynamically on a given machine? When I first did this on my reference machine, the Windows partition had an assigned letter of E: and the system partition assigned C:. I figured that that would stay the same; however, when I just tried to capture my reference machine's image again, I noticed that the Windows partition is now F: and the system partition still C:. Kind of odd that the Windows partition would change letter...
    1>>Yes
    2>>Yes
    3>>Yes

    1*>You don't want to keep capturing your image- do that only once when you have it exactly how you want it and are ready to deploy. Then, back that captured .wim up to a separate computer- in case your USB has a problem. Then deploy that image. Generally, always do one run without any scripts to see how things go. Then, automate with scripts (you can even automate the capture process- although you'll need to make a separate custom WinPE).

    2*>The boot.wim file (assuming you mounted that specific .wim) will be saved/ updated when you commit the changes to the .wim.

    3*>Since WinPE runs from RAM, when the computer restarts that *instance* of WinPE is deleted. If you boot back into WinPE the process starts back over all again- make ramdisk, lay down WinPE's .wim, boot. That then that you boot from is a new *instance* of WinPE, and that new instance has no idea that you assigned a specific letter to a partition, so it goes and automatically assigns letters again. You could go back into diskpart and reassign the partitions' letters. Things are going to change- especially if you have formatted the drive once. The best practice is to monitor these changes and make adaptations in the script. When you figure out what everything is generally changed to, you can adapt to that. The drive letters will remain fairly consistent unless you make a change (the assignment of letters is not totally random, you just need to figure out what they get changed to).
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    27 Jul 2016 #83
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 69
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    I successfully applied an image using the automated scripts a little bit earlier. Yeah!!!

    I did realize a couple of minor things I forgot to customize on my reference machine, but whatever. I can quickly tweak those settings since I only have 3 of them left to set up.

    One problem I am running into is MS Office not activating properly after applying the image. I keeps popping up with a dialogue box telling me I need to activate it even though I've already entered our library volume license key. Hopefully, I can get that figured out.

    A few more questions:

    1) When I boot to my WinPE USB, it shows Windows assigned to F: and System assigned to C:. But when I boot normally into Windows and look in Disk Management, it shows Windows as C: and System as not labelled. Why? It's just really odd to me that it's not consistent. My OCD is flaring up haha.

    2) When reading about batch files and such, I came across the timeout command. Evidently, you can write something like follows:
    Code:
    timeout /t 30
    Would this effectively work just as well as a pause or using the ping method to delay a script?

    3) Is the image I've made using this method hardware independent? Does it capture all the drivers and what not or are those installed by windows update after imaging?
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  4.    27 Jul 2016 #84
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 69
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Scratch that about MS Office. I wasn't logged in as an administrator and once I did so it activated.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  5.    27 Jul 2016 #85
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 69
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by RBunning View Post
    -See, when making a disc image, you have to rebuild the WinPE media each time (unless you have some sort of program that can pop open the .iso and modify the file structure directly, which unfortunately I don't). Given I don't have the means to modify the .iso directly, if I wanted to test having an 'all in one' installer (no server needed) I would need to find another way to get the image onto the WinPE media. I have to rebuild the media (make the .iso again). It's a simple command 'Makewinpemedia /iso...'.
    Each time you do what, exactly? Modify it?

    And is this just exclusive to using an .iso and a disc? Isn't the process the same for a USB generally speaking. If I want to modify my image by adding some batch scripts, I would have to mount the image, modify it, commit the changes and then ultimately rebuilt my USB media, correct?

    Or maybe you meant something else and I am not quite following. I think where I'm confused is how you go about getting your image if you are using a CD rather than a USB and how rebuilding your media is any different in this process than if you use a USB.

    Do you still use the USB to capture the image of your reference machine and create the .WIM file? And from there you have to copy the .WIM file and stick it in the WinPE media folder? And then build your CD media by using the MakeWinPEMedia .iso command?

    Or are you just using a CD to do the whole process: capture the image onto disc using bootable WinPE media (the same CD that you are capturing the image to), put captured .wim file onto computer with WinPE and place file in the Media Folder, then rebuild your CD media with WinPE and the included capture image? (If this is it, then I understand the terminology rebuild. Otherwise, I'm not following what we are rebuilding and why we are rebuilding it)

    (Doing it with a CD would require you to burn the .ISO to the CD, right? And DISM will do that with the MakeWinPEMedia .ISO command?)
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  6.    27 Jul 2016 #86
    Join Date : Jul 2016
    Posts : 58
    Windows 10 Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by ahelton View Post
    I successfully applied an image using the automated scripts a little bit earlier. Yeah!!!

    I did realize a couple of minor things I forgot to customize on my reference machine, but whatever. I can quickly tweak those settings since I only have 3 of them left to set up.

    One problem I am running into is MS Office not activating properly after applying the image. I keeps popping up with a dialogue box telling me I need to activate it even though I've already entered our library volume license key. Hopefully, I can get that figured out.

    A few more questions:

    1) When I boot to my WinPE USB, it shows Windows assigned to F: and System assigned to C:. But when I boot normally into Windows and look in Disk Management, it shows Windows as C: and System as not labelled. Why? It's just really odd to me that it's not consistent. My OCD is flaring up haha.

    2) When reading about batch files and such, I came across the timeout command. Evidently, you can write something like follows:
    Code:
    timeout /t 30
    Would this effectively work just as well as a pause or using the ping method to delay a script?

    3) Is the image I've made using this method hardware independent? Does it capture all the drivers and what not or are those installed by windows update after imaging?
    1>> Its going to have a mind of its own. If you took that drive out and plugged it into another computer the Windows partition is going to be a different letter. Generally the first OS to be installed to the disk gets C:\ as that's the fairly common drive letter for Windows. Its going to change when you start into WinPE since that's whole different Windows software where X:\ is the common drive letter. You just have to work with it

    2>>timeout /t <sec>:
    : D That's so awesome! It works (for me at least)! It effectively works as a delay timer.
    -When you use it, it delays and says:
    Waiting for <sec> seconds, press a key to continue ...
    You can either wait for the countdown to timeout or press a key. It works. For how long I've been trying to find a way to make delays in batch scripts, I'm glad someone has found something that works as a delay timer! I guess I wasn't looking too hard...

    3>>All the drivers are going to be exactly what you had installed on the reference machine. So keep that in mind- don't drop this image on a different computer model as it might create a driver conflict. Given Windows knows the hardware changed when you image a different computer, it might go through a 'getting devices ready' stage on the first boot to see if there's any new hardware it needs to get up and running.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  7.    27 Jul 2016 #87
    Join Date : Jul 2016
    Posts : 58
    Windows 10 Pro

    Quote Originally Posted by ahelton View Post
    ...
    -My 'reference machine' is a virtual machine and there is no USB involved. I cannot 'plug' a USB stick into the virtual machine (I'm using VMWare). I build a .iso file to work around it. .iso is a disc image and the virtual machine understands that. I can point it to the .iso image and the virtual machine will interpret the image as if it was a CD. I can also mount the .iso in Windows on my host machine, but I can't modify it (CD's are generally ROM). The .iso can either be burned to a CD (that's a tadbit old school, though) or you can make a bootable USB from the .iso using a tool like 'Rufus' (what I would probably do). Also keep in mind that I have a server available to me. What I do to capture an image is I have my custom capture WinPE scripted to connect to my server and capture/ save the Windows image to the server. Since the server is within my network, I can download it to my computer or physically plug a USB stick into the server the get the captured image off of it. Regardless of which route I go, I still get the captured image and place it in the 'media' folder if I'm making a standalone installer. Frankly, it's a lot easier to use the server. I tested the standalone installer only once to make sure it was possible. Its a real pain if there's updates because then after you re-capture, you have to rebuild the winpe media all over again with the image on this (and it takes longer to build the media when the captured image is 9 GB). With the server approach, I can have my scripts on the server, the captured image on there as well. I can modify all of this without needing to rebuild the WinPE media (since all the action is happening on files from the server). My WinPE media is also very lightweight and takes up only 300 megabytes on my computer, since all the large files are on the server.

    -I can also create a virtual hard drive (.vhd), connect that to the Virtual Machine, capture the image to the .vhd, then mount the .vhd and pull the image off of that. I opt to keep my .wims on the server, however as the server has far more storage space and it is easier to access.

    -Given I have no means to modify the .iso, each time I make a huge modification to my WinPE's .wim (say change commands in startnet.cmd, or change the background) I have to rebuild the media. The makewinpemedia takes care of generating the .iso file and making everything work. .iso's are very convenient as I don't need to keep wasting a physical disc each time I make a change to the WinPE. When I say 'rebuild' I mean totally recreate the WinPE media (the .iso in my case- USB in yours) and remake the .iso. Its really easy since makewinpemedia literally does all of the hard work for me. I just run the command and tell it where I copied WinPE, then I direct it to my previous .iso. When it rebuilds the media, it overwrites the existing .iso, then I have the totally up to date WinPE available to use with a VM.

    *>>Rebuilding the media is not at all required if you're using a USB stick, however if you switch to using virtual machines say for testing and playing around, you'll probably want to start using .isos. With a USB stick, you have read/ write access, so if you say modify startnet.cmd (then commit your changes back to the WinPE .wim) or if you just want to add an updated Windows image, you can just stick the new image onto the USB or overwrite the existing boot.wim with the USB. You don't get that level of freedom with .isos. Therefore, if there's anything at all you want on the WinPE media, you'd have to stick whatever that might be in the 'media' folder so it gets added when the media is made.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  8.    29 Jul 2016 #88
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 69
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by RBunning View Post
    2>>timeout /t <sec>:
    : D That's so awesome! It works (for me at least)! It effectively works as a delay timer.
    -When you use it, it delays and says:
    Waiting for <sec> seconds, press a key to continue ...
    You can either wait for the countdown to timeout or press a key. It works. For how long I've been trying to find a way to make delays in batch scripts, I'm glad someone has found something that works as a delay timer! I guess I wasn't looking too hard...
    Did this actually work for you in a live environment? It worked for me in my test script, but when I added it to my actual batch deployment script is throws a "not recognized internal or external command" error. Bummer. Seemed like the perfect solution to adding a delay.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  9.    29 Jul 2016 #89
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 69
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by RBunning View Post
    *>>Rebuilding the media is not at all required if you're using a USB stick, however if you switch to using virtual machines say for testing and playing around, you'll probably want to start using .isos. With a USB stick, you have read/ write access, so if you say modify startnet.cmd (then commit your changes back to the WinPE .wim) or if you just want to add an updated Windows image, you can just stick the new image onto the USB or overwrite the existing boot.wim with the USB. You don't get that level of freedom with .isos. Therefore, if there's anything at all you want on the WinPE media, you'd have to stick whatever that might be in the 'media' folder so it gets added when the media is made.
    So if I modify my WinPE .wim, can I then just copy the boot.wim file over to my USB without running the MakeWinPEMedia /UFD command?
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  10.    29 Jul 2016 #90
    Join Date : Jun 2016
    Posts : 69
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    I've successfully deployed the image to all computers!

    The only real issues I had was:

    1) The timeout command in my batch script failing and
    2) MS Office not activating properly

    I ended up having to manually enter the activation key logged-in as administrator to get it to finally activate. Is there a way to have it activate automatically? Or is it supposed to auto-activate for a volume license key and mine is just being ornery?
      My ComputerSystem Spec

 
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