I've been messing around with Windows Deployment Services (WDS) lately, and it seems like it's a very nice tool. I used to distribute images to our various platforms using the otherwise brilliant Paragon Hard Disk Manager. So far it's been pretty easy to setup a new machine with the desired image, capture it to a USB drive and distribute it manually to other machines of the same model. But what if the hardware changes? What about new drivers? Then it usually gets a bit more messy. And the problems just seem to expand at the same rate the company does.
In comes Windows Deployment Services. It's the successor of Remote Installation Services (RIS), and I never quite became good friends with RIS. Don't know why really. But WDS on the other hand seems to be pretty easy to get going, and if you're only interested in distributing images of Vista, 7, Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2, then there's a lot of benefits. It's pretty darn easy to setup the WDS server. It's pretty darn easy to set up your first blank standard OS images, and it's just as easy to setup driver packages for different kinds of hardware. The unattended installs can still be a bit quirky if you haven't messed around with that bit before, but luckily I found a bunch of articles on the matter, that explains everyting pretty well.
So if you ever want to experiment with WDS yourself, get a hold of a Windows 2008 R2 server with plenty of diskspace, some clients and these tutorials. Good luck.
Augusto Alvarez: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
His focus is mainly on getting the WDS server up and running and deploying a Vista image. But it translates directly to other image types as well.
Midteq: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6 and Part 7.
The focus here is on XP images, HAL independency and WDS on 2003 R2 servers. Also some Sysprep gold here.
Sharepoint George: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
WDS, Windows 7 deployment, WAIK, unattended installs and driver injection.
A custom Sysprep utility that might come in handy.