How to configure DS so that NEW clients boot to automation and wait for imaging jobs

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Article ID: 178273

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Question
We want to use PXE for our new systems that come in, but we don't have a way to get them into the console.  What we'd like to do is have them boot, using PXE, get a preboot environment, and once checked in, give them the appropriate job.  We do NOT want to have to pre-populate the console with these systems, so they'll be new with no inventory at all.

Alternatively, we would like to use the same process for re-imaging systems.  If a computer is being re-deployed somewhere else, we'd like to be able to delete it from the console and give it a new image with new settings, but obviously, then it's not in the console.

How can we accomplish this?

Answer

- The key to making this scenario work is NOT having an initial deployment option.  Initial deployment by default will go to all "unknown" computers, so if you have that configured, this wont work.  The problem with Initial deployment is that it can not be "custom configured" on a per-machine basis.

 

- Another method of managing imaging on a per-machine basis is to pre-populate the console with "Virtual" computers.  This can be done one-at-a-time or by importing a CSV file.  However, to do this, you need to have information like MAC  addresses.

- A third method, the one desired in this question, is to let the "new" system populate the console automatically, and then dropping a job on it once it checks in.  To accomplish this using PXE, do the following:

  1. Ensure there is no initial deployment job configured.
  2. In the PXE Configuration Utility, on the DS tab, ensure that PXE is set to respond to unknown systems.  The risk of this of course is having PXE respond to systems that you do not want it to respond to, but for many "deployment labs" this isn't an issue.  Any known system will not have a problem with this as well.
  3. In the PXE Configuration Utility, on the same tab, you should have the PXE menu either respond immediately, or wait 10 seconds (or something like this) rather than wait indefinately.  This is so no one has to select an option.  Then, have it run a shared option of the preboot environment of your choice.  For this discussion, we'll assume that is WinPE, but any other is also fine.

With this configuration, any system set to PXE boot and NOT known by the Deployment Server, will boot to PXE, then run automatically the preboot environment of your choice.  At the end of that environment, it will launch the DAgent, check in to the server, and appear in the console under New Computers.  Having no work assigned to it, and no initial deployment task, it will then, literally, wait for your instructions.

Most people using this configuration will then identify the system checked in visually, find the appropriate imaging job, and drop it on to the "new" system.

On the client, you'll see it immediately start to run the imaging job.

- A fourth method is to edit the WinPE configuration to force the agent to wait a specific amount of time before closing the connection. In order to do this, follow the instructions bellow:

1) Open the PXE Configuration Utility, select the WinPE configuration and click Edit

2) Select the aclient.inp file and replace the following lines:

;ConnectionParadigm=1
;CloseTimeout=60
 
for
 
ConnectionParadigm=1
CloseTimeout=600
 
Where 600 is the amount of seconds you need the client to wait before closing the connection and restart.