DISM - Clone and Deploy using FFU Image  

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  1.    #20

    Kari said: View Post
    As I told, I got to login screen only when I first removed EFI, MSR and Recovery partitions from VHD using a third party tool.

    Before writing this off as a bug, I really would like to see the link to official documentation stating the FFU can be applied to a VHDX file.




    I have been using FFU images since it has been possible to create deployment images. I will customize image in Audit Mode on reference Hyper-V virtual machine, generalize it with Sysprep, capture that image to FFU, and apply it to any VM or physical image. It has never failed.

    Being much faster than imaging programs, both capture and applying it, FFU is a really good alternative. To test it, to get piece of mind, use Macrium to create an image backup before applying an FFU image first time.

    You can also test in Hyper-V; capture and apply FFU images from and to virtual machines.




    Disk type is irrelevant. An FFU image, regardless if it was captured from VHD, VHDX, HDD or SSD, can be applied to any SSD or HDD.



     Some interesting but totally trivial, off topic background info

    FFU imaging was originally used to deploy Windows Mobile images, and brought to Insiders early 2015 in Windows Imaging and Configuration Designer (WICD):
    Attachment 235640

    In fact, in March 2015 I was making a video about using WICD, to show how to create WIM or FFU deployment images from scratch. Screenshot from that video:
    Attachment 235637
    (Click to enlarge.)

    You could create various image types:
    Attachment 235638

    However, before getting my video ready, Microsoft removed the imaging part of WICD, and it was renamed to Windows Configuration Designer (WCD), dropping the word Imaging. I never published that video, as it became useless.

    We had to wait almost two and a half years, until version 1709 brought FFU imaging back.

    Microsoft has been a bit sloppy regarding the name of the tool. Although imaging is no longer included in tool and its official name, building images is not possible with it, its Start menu entry still uses old name (WICD). Also, although application titlebar today shows the current name, everywhere else you can still see references to old name and acronym:
    Attachment 235639

    Windows Configuration Designer is part of Windows 10 ADK: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/win...ed/adk-install

    Kari
    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/manufacture/desktop/dism-image-management-command-line-options-s14

    I connected the vhdx to Hyper-V but it failed to boot until I used the Reflect "fix windows boot problems" and then it was fine.

    I just cannot see why it would work in Hyper-V but not in native booting - done this many times with Reflect. Still in the end, no big deal.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  2. Kari's Avatar
    Posts : 16,166
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter
       #21

    @Martin, I got it working, after some logical thinking (read: guessing). Doing last tests now to repeat the process, to deploy FFU image to a virtual hard disk and native boot from it, will post when I am sure it works.

    Kari
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    #22

    Kari said: View Post
    @Martin, I got it working, after some logical thinking (read: guessing). Doing last tests now to repeat the process, to deploy FFU image to a virtual hard disk and native boot from it, will post when I am sure it works.

    Kari
    @Kari - Great - may be a useful addition to your tutorial. I admire your tenacity.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  4.    #23

    Will this copy everything on the disk even if Windows doesn't understand it? For example of you dualboot Linux and have a ext4 partition? It is a sector copy so it should right?

    The bit about servicing sort of implies it should
    FFUs can contain more than one partition but only have one index, DISM maps only the Windows partition from the mounted FFU to the mount folder
    Capture and apply Windows Full Flash Update (FFU) images

    It isn't clear to me what it is supposed to do if you are dualbooting Windows (which installation would servicing pick?) let alone if you are dual booting with a file system Windows doesn't understand.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  5. Kari's Avatar
    Posts : 16,166
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter
       #24

    lx07 said: View Post
    Will this copy everything on the disk even if Windows doesn't understand it? For example of you dualboot Linux and have a ext4 partition? It is a sector copy so it should right?
    As the disk is cloned sector by sector, it is logical to assume absolutely everything will be cloned. Any dual boot and boot records on the disk will be cloned.

    I must admit, though, that I have only tested with Windows / Windows dual boot scenarios.

    Kari
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  6. Kari's Avatar
    Posts : 16,166
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter
       #25

    OK, about applying an FFU image to a virtual hard disk.

    First, virtual hard disk file must be .vhdx, it will not work if applied to a .vhd file.

    Second, the applied FFU image must be captured from a generalized (sysprepped) Windows. This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to capture an existing Windows installation to FFU image to be applied to VHDX, because generalizing will usually fail. Applied to physical disks, no need to generalize, but to apply to a virtual hard disk, generalizing is a must.

    Trying to generalize an existing Windows installation on a test machine, I first removed all Store apps and their provisioning, which typically cause Sysprep with /generalize switch t fail. It did not work. Even after disabling reserved space in registry, I kept getting this error:

    Code:
    2019-06-01 15:16:15, Error SYSPRP Sysprep_Clean_Validate_Opk: Audit mode cannot be turned on if reserved storage is in use. An update or servicing operation may be using reserved storage.; hr = 0x800F0975

    I am quite experienced Sysprep user, but hit the wall here; nothing I tried to generalize an existing Windows installation worked. I am open for new ideas, though.

    However, I had no issues in what I tried next.

    Using a Hyper-V VM with 256 Gb VHDX as reference machine as I always do, I installed Windows 10 build 18908, and booted it to Audit Mode. After image was customized on reference machine, software I want to be pre-installed and everything else done, I sysprepped it with /generalize switch and my answer file, then booted to WinPE and captured an FFU image. I applied this image to a new VHDX file, added it to Windows boot menu, and it worked perfectly.

    I have now repeated this several times, without an issue. The key is generalizing; I have tried just to run Sysprep, without /generalize switch, but in that case the captured FFU images work as they should when applied to physical disk, but not when applied to a virtual hard disk.

    Sorry, Martin, not what you wanted to hear. Anyway, I can now confirm that an FFU image can be applied to a virtual hard disk, and be used as native boot VHDX, but the captured image must be from a generalized Windows image.

    Kari
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  7.    #26

    Kari said: View Post
    OK, about applying an FFU image to a virtual hard disk.

    First, virtual hard disk file must be .vhdx, it will not work if applied to a .vhd file.

    Second, the applied FFU image must be captured from a generalized (sysprepped) Windows. This makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to capture an existing Windows installation to FFU image to be applied to VHDX, because generalizing will usually fail. Applied to physical disks, no need to generalize, but to apply to a virtual hard disk, generalizing is a must.

    Trying to generalize an existing Windows installation on a test machine, I first removed all Store apps and their provisioning, which typically cause Sysprep with /generalize switch t fail. It did not work. Even after disabling reserved space in registry, I kept getting this error:

    Code:
    2019-06-01 15:16:15, Error SYSPRP Sysprep_Clean_Validate_Opk: Audit mode cannot be turned on if reserved storage is in use. An update or servicing operation may be using reserved storage.; hr = 0x800F0975

    I am quite experienced Sysprep user, but hit the wall here; nothing I tried to generalize an existing Windows installation worked. I am open for new ideas, though.

    However, I had no issues in what I tried next.

    Using a Hyper-V VM with 256 Gb VHDX as reference machine as I always do, I installed Windows 10 build 18908, and booted it to Audit Mode. After image was customized on reference machine, software I want to be pre-installed and everything else done, I sysprepped it with /generalize switch and my answer file, then booted to WinPE and captured an FFU image. I applied this image to a new VHDX file, added it to Windows boot menu, and it worked perfectly.

    I have now repeated this several times, without an issue. The key is generalizing; I have tried just to run Sysprep, without /generalize switch, but in that case the captured FFU images work as they should when applied to physical disk, but not when applied to a virtual hard disk.

    Sorry, Martin, not what you wanted to hear. Anyway, I can now confirm that an FFU image can be applied to a virtual hard disk, and be used as native boot VHDX, but the captured image must be from a generalized Windows image.

    Kari
    Thanks - I cannot help thinking there is a bug somewhere causing this. I guess we will never know.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


  8.    #27

    I did an interesting test today. I created a bootable USB flash drive with full Windows (effectively Windows To Go) using Rufus. The drive was a standard removable drive not the more expensive Windows To Go certified "fixed" drives.

    That booted fine, so I decided to see if FFU would backup a removable drive.

    As I surmised, it worked fine for making the backup image. Key question was if it would restore and boot.

    So I wiped the flash drive completely using diskpart clean command, and then restored the FFU backup image.

    This worked perfectly, and PC booted into the flash drive with no issues.

    This is great because a limitation of Macrium Reflect is that it will not make an image backup of removable drives.

    To date, I have had to use win32diskimager to backup usb flash drives and it is not that fast.

    FFU was really fast by comparison!
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  9. Kari's Avatar
    Posts : 16,166
    Windows 10 Pro
    Thread Starter
       #28

    cereberus said: View Post
    I did an interesting test today.
    That really is interesting. Thanks for testing.


    cereberus said: View Post
    FFU was really fast by comparison!
    It is fast, fastest cloning method I've seen.

    Kari
      My ComputerSystem Spec


 
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