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Edit: June 5 - this edition of Windows 10 is now supported with Imaging Toolkit 10.0.7

Edit - May 2: the changes in this version will require an updated version of Imaging Toolkit - we are working on version 10.0.7 right now, and if all goes well, we might see this released in about a month's time, but of course this timescale is subject to change. If you have an urgent need to deploy this version, please contact ENGL Support

Microsoft are shortly releasing Windows 10 "Creators Update" (this is version 1703, the last major update "Anniversary Edition" was 1607). The ENGL team are busily testing this version, and we will update this blog to keep you informed of our progress.

For now, this version is not supported, and although it can be imported, we have seen problems with deployment, ranging from the inability to create a Catalog, to unwanted prompts during the base image creation process, so we would recommend that customers avoid trying to use this version with Imaging Toolkit, until we can determine the causes of these anomalies. Also check Microsoft blogs and the popular press for news, to determine if the update is one that you want!

 

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ENGL Driver Manager 6.0.2 now includes support for Symantec Ghost Solution Suite (GSS) 3.2.

For further details check the Driver Manager compatibility web page.

 

 

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In BETA 1 we supported monitoring of Windows deployments using ENGL Imaging Toolkit. With BETA 2, we've extended support to include any task-based deployment solution. In this blog, I'll configure Deployment Monitor to track the progress of Windows deployments using Symantec Ghost Solution Suite (GSS). If you're using a different Windows deployment solution, don't worry as this blog will point you in the right direction.

 

Installing Deployment Monitor

You'll need a physical or virtual machine running Windows Server 2016 or Server 2012 R2, IIS and SQL Server (local/remote). Ensure you check out the system requirements found in the BETA 2 documentation before installing Deployment Monitor.

Note: Remember to only ever install BETA software on non-production servers!

 

Configuring Deployment Monitor

Once Deployment Monitor has been installed and a license has been applied, open the Web Console.

  1. In the Management Solution tab, select Other.



  2. In the Deployment Process tab, enter the number of deployment phases that constitute a complete Windows deployment. Deployment Monitor uses phases to calculate the overall progress of machine builds. Phases can include a number of tasks, but we'll come on to that later. For example, if you have Imaging, Configuration, and Application installation phases, enter 3.



  3. In the Status Updates tab, add log files that Deployment Monitor will collect during status updates from the machine being deployed. The OnError flag ensures the log file is only uploaded to the Deployment Monitor server when a status update is sent with an error.

 

Sending status updates

Once Deployment Monitor has been configured for custom deployment, you need to copy the included DMStatus.exe (there are 32 and 64-bit versions) to a share that is accessible to the machine at deployment time. For GSS, we recommend copying DMStatus to a folder on the eXpress share.

DMStatus gathers machine inventory and log files, which are sent to the Deployment Monitor server. Using DMStatus command-line switches, the Deployment Monitor server, phase index, task description and optional error message can be sent.

DMStatus.exe /server:”<server>[:<port>]” /phase:”<index>” /task:”<description>” /error:”<error_message>”

A typical GSS job includes several tasks. For Deployment Monitor, we need to think of how those tasks will be grouped into phases (see Deployment Process settings above).

Before each phase and GSS task, we need to run DMStatus to ensure Deployment Monitor correctly calculates machine progress. Use the GSS Run Script task to call DMStatus with the correct command-line switches. At the end of the deployment process, DMStatus must be run with the last phase number and a status of finished, which tells Deployment Monitor that the deployment has completed.

The following lines illustrate the order that DMStatus should be called:

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:1

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:1 /task:"Restoring Windows 10 image"

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:1 /task:"Installing critical drivers"

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:2

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:2 /task:“Installing drivers"

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:3

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:3 /task:“Installing Office"

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:3 /task:“Installing WinZIP"

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:3 /status:"finished“

 

Sending status update with an error

If you detect an error during the deployment, run DMStatus with the optional /error switch. In the Web Console, the error will be visible in red from the live and history views, as well as the detailed status.

dmstatus /server:"deploymon" /phase:2 /task:“Installing drivers" /error:"Failed to install drivers" 

 

Web Console

In the Web Console, there are live progress and build history views. 

For a given machine, detailed status displays all phases and tasks.

In BETA 2 the log viewer has had a face lift and includes full text search and highlighting, and the ability to find errors and warnings in all uploaded log files.

 

 

Downloading BETA 2

Deployment Monitor 2.0 BETA 2 includes support for both ENGL Imaging Toolkit and custom task-based deployment solutions.

To get involved, sign up for the BETA and get testing!

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Wantage, Oxfordshire, UK - Expert Networking Group Plc (ENGL) is pleased to announce a multi-million euro contract with British Bendy-Bell-Bus Company Ltd to provide drivers for their fleet of buses, coaches and human-powered ricksha's.

 

Mr P. Dell from the BBBBC said "ENGL is known for its expertese in driver management and deployment, and we [upper management] knew it would be a perfect fit for our businesses to work together. We desperately need new drivers for our vehicles and using agencies and contractors can be expensive and time consuming. ENGL has told us they can easily find and deploy drivers." 

 

The BBBBC's tender request was clear that drivers for buses and coaches must have passed all safety checks and driver certificates should be up to date.

 

Mr Thompson, Windows Driver Management Manager at ENGL, said "This is a huge opportunity and responsibility we don't take lightly. We need to ensure the correct drivers are deployed to BBBBC buses and coaches. The BBBBC have told us that all of their vehicles have Windows, some of them have 7 or 8, but to ensure their users have a better experience on their journey, most bendy-buses will be upgraded to 10."

 

Mr Dell has previously been quoted as saying "Installing windows can be painful and often needs some additional polishing to ensure the look and feel is right for the customer. Finding drivers can be challenging as it can often take a lot of time to find the right driver who is smart and will look after their vehicle."

 

ENGL has access to millions of Windows drivers that are matched based on customer hardware requirements. This functionality is included in its Imaging Toolkit and Driver Manager products.

 

Mr Thompson said "Some Windows drivers may be too old and sadly will need to be replaced. We also need to ensure drivers with excessive bloatware [fat] are excluded. Some decisions are difficult, but those that need to be removed will be done carefully with BBBBC's consent."

 

ENGL is due to have their team of Windows deployment specialists on site next week to meet with BBBBC's HR department. Mr Thompson mentioned he was confused as to why the first meeting was with HR instead of IT and why the purchase of 100 new bus driver uniforms was included in the project costs, but Mr Thompson is confident this is just a bump in the road and will be resolved shortly.

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When working with Imaging Toolkit, VMware can be a great help, as it allows you to take snapshots (so you can go back and repeat steps more easily), and comes with built-in network connectivity (which makes it easier when creating base images) and does not require any special drivers (again, this helps to keep the base image as "clean" as possible).

I'm going to talk about how to incorporate VMware into the process (and will also be of help when working on any new Imaging Toolkit project). Other virtualisation solutions can also be used, provided you follow the guidelines in this TID, but this TID specifically covers VMware.