New Sample for MDT (Custom Actions)

MDTLTIPSSampleAction

MDT Litetouch Action Property Page Sample

Fancy Example

Background

MDT has several pre-defined pages for common task sequence editing tasks. You’ve seen them in the MDT Litetouch Task Sequence Editor, under General, Disks, Images, Settings, and Roles.

They help abstract the ugly command line and scripting code behind the scenes for the user.

Recently I had an idea for a super-wiz-bang property page type for MDT Litetouch, and asked “are there any MDT LTI samples out there?”. I knew Config Mgr had a SDK Sample and I’ve been using it for a while now to create SCCM Task Sequence Actions pages.

The answer came back “There was an MDT Litetouch SDK, but not anymore.” (Long story for another day)

“Someone should create a sample!” I said!

“Cool Keith, when you figure it out, can you share the results? :)” For those of you who wonder, how does one become a Microsoft MVP? This, so here we go.

The Basics

C#

MDT Task Sequence Action Pages are simply C# Windows Form Control Library, with some standard API interfaces so it can be called from the Litetouch Wizard Host. The MDT team designed the API to closely resemble the System Center Configuration Manager Action Page API.

  • There are entry points for when the control is initialized.
    • Use this opportunity to load the UI elements with the saved data from the PropertyManager (aka TS.xml)
  • There are entry points for when the “OK” and “Apply” buttons are pressed.
    • Use this opportunity to save the UI elements with to the PropertyManager

There are several dependent classes required by the sample, they are contained in the ‘c:\program files\Microsoft Deployment Toolkit\bin\Microsoft.BDD.Workbench.dll’ assembly, so you will need add this reference to your project.

Anything else you want to add in the control, can be done if you know the correct C# code to get the job done.

Registration

Once you have created the DLL Library, we will need to add it so MDT Litetouch console knows about it.

First off, copy the DLL to the ‘c:\program files\Microsoft Deployment Toolkit\bin’ folder.

Secondly, we’ll need to add an element to the actions.xml file.

<action>
	<Category>General</Category>
	<Name>Install PowerShellGet Action</Name>
	<Type>BDD_MDTLTIPSSampleControl</Type>
	<Assembly>MDTLTIPSSampleAction</Assembly>
	<Class>MDTLTIPSSampleAction.MDTLTIPSSampleControl</Class>
	<Action>powershell.exe -Command  Install-Package -Force -ForceBootStrap -Name (New-Object -COMObject Microsoft.SMS.TSEnvironment).Value('Package')</Action>
	<Property type="string" name="Package" />
</action>

For this sample, I included a PowerShell libary module with two functions, one to register the new control, the other to remove the control. Easy!

The Sample

The sample in this case is pretty small.

There is one TextBox (as shown above), that prompts the user for the name of a PowerShell Package.

The package name get’s added to the TS.XML, along with the command, in this case it calls PowerShell.exe with the cmdlet Install-Package. We use COM to connect to the SMS environment space to get the package name and go.

You can use the build.ps1 script to compile the sample, and create PowerShell library to install the control within MDT Litetouch.

Future

Well I created this sample, because I have some ideas for some MDT LiteTouch (and SCCM) Action controls.

  • Fancy UI for installation of applications through Chocolatey
  • Run scripts and modules from PowerShellGallery.com
  • Other ideas, let me know (comments or e-mail)

Keith

Formatting a removable USB drive with 2 partitions

TL;DR – Starting with Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 14965, you can format any “Removable” USB Flash Drive with more than one partition. Perfect for installation of large (over 4GB) WIM files on UEFI machines!

 

Hey all, back from a week at the Microsoft MVP summit, a Week in the UK, and a week in Arizona.

A few weeks ago at the Microsoft MVP summit, an engineering manager with the Windows Product group made an offhand comment about formatting a removable USB drive with two partitions. This took several of us by surprise, because historically, this hasn’t been supported widely without converting to a Fixed disk or something.

Mike Terrill (and Mike Niehaus) already beat me to the punch with some posts, but I wanted to share my results. :^)

The Background

Why is this important? Well as I mentioned in another blog post, as more and more people are booting to UEFI, on USB flash drives formatted with Fat32, with WIM images over 4GB in size, that causes a problem because Fat32 can’t hold files over 4GB in size.

Another solution would be to use the Rufus tool to split a USB drive into multiple partitions with a hidden fat32 partition. However, the problem here is that the hidden partition uses a special UEFI app that is not signed, so it won’t work on UEFI machines with Secure Boot enabled.

This has become even more interesting since Windows Server 2016 came out, with a base WIM image for standard Server SKU that is over 4GB in size. Hum…

The Hardware

20161126_200856.jpg

I tested on several different USB makes using my Windows 10 (version 1607) laptop. Some would allow me to create a 2nd partition on a removable Flash Drive, others would not giving me an error:

DISKPART> create part pri

No usable free extent could be found. It may be that there is insufficient 
free space to create a partition at the specified size and offset. Specify
different size and offset values or don't specify either to create the maximum 
sized partition. It may be that the disk is partitioned using the MBR disk
partitioning format and the disk contains either 4 primary partitions, (no
more partitions may be created), or 3 primary partitions and one extended
partition, (only logical drives may be created).

Mostly the older and/or cheaper drives didn’t work, but most of the newer and/or name brand drives did work.

Finally I narrowed it down to two different models, both my favorites:

Then I tested against three Operating Systems: Windows 10 Version 1607, Windows 10 Preview, and Windwos 7.0 SP1. All using Diskpart to create multiple partitions.

The script

Diskpart.exe –>

sel disk 1
clean
create part pri size=450
format quick fs=fat32
assign
create part pri
format quick fs=ntfs
assign
exit

The Results:

                                 SanDisk           Transcend
Windows 7 SP1 Build 7601           Pass               Fail
Windows 10  Version 1607           Pass               Fail
Windows 10 Preview 14965           Pass               Pass   

I was able to format my SanDisk into multiple partitions using Windows 7 and beyond.

But I was not able to format the Transcend drive into multiple partitions using Windows 7 or Windows 10 Version 1607, but I was able to partition into multiple partitions on the new Windows 10 Insider Preview 14965.

That’s new!

I haven’t done enough testing using the removable flash drives on older machines, to see if the partitions are still visible, but the results look promising for a start.

Update #1 – 11/28/16:

Found out today that the reason that my SanDisk Extreme disk worked on Windows 7 and Windows 10 1607 may be because the removable Flash disk is reported as “Fixed” rather than “Removable” to the OS. Link.

Update #2 – 11/28/16:

I noticed that when taking the “removable” disk formatted with 2 partitions from Windows 10 Preview 14965 over to Windows 10 Version 1607, only the first partition was visible. As a work around I tried moving the main NTFS partition first and the Fat32 partition second.

sel disk 1
clean
create part pri
shrink desired=450
format quick fs=ntfs
assign
create part pri
format quick fs=fat32
assign
exit

Fix for Windows 1511 ADK bug

First off, yes, I have a new job working for 1e! I’m super excited, and I should have posted something about it, but I’ve been super busy. My first day on the job was at a customer site in Dallas, and I’ve been on the go ever since, working on this and that (stay tuned :^).

As many of you may have known, there has been a pretty big bug in the Windows 10 Version 1511 ADK, it’s caused all kinds of interop problems with Configuration Manager. Well Microsoft released a fix today! KB3143760. Yea!

Well I opened up KB3143760, and yikes! The instructions are a bit dry. Mount this, patch that, watch out for the data streams!

I needed to patch my local Windows 1511 ADK installation because I’m working on a SCCM+MDT Refresh scenario, and I don’t want to uninstall the 1511 ADK. Perfect timing, if only there was a way to automate this..

Repair-1511ADK.ps1

Here is a link to a PowerShell script I wrote to auto-magically patch your WinPE files!

https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=5407B03614346A99!158500&authkey=!AHWArN5C7FyRPIY&ithint=file%2cps1

This script will:

  • Download the patch (no need to go through the E-Mail process)
  • Take care of all the stream issues (really I don’t use IE/Edge, so no security streams)
  • Auto extract the patch contents
  • Mount the wim file
  • Patch the appropriate dat files
  • Fix the permissions
  • Dismounts the WIM
  • Cleans up all left over files

So, for example, if you wanted to patch all of the WinPE Wim files in the ADK directory (before importing them into SCCM), you can run the following command:

get-childitem 'C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\*.wim' -recurse | .\Repair-1511ADK.ps1 -verbose

Lately, when programming in PowerShell, I have taken the “write-host considered harmful” rule to heart, so by default, there is *NO* std console output. Instead, I redirect most information output to “verbose”, so if you want to see what is happening in the background, use the -verbose switch.

-k

Hopefully, moving forwards, this will be the *last* time I place a new script up on OneDrive, really I should be moving towards something more… modern… like GitHub.

MDT package now on Chocolatey.org ready for Windows 10!

Been a while since I posted, I’ve been busy with Surface, Windows 10, and other Kits. But my chocolatey package just got approved, so I thought I would share.

I’ve been following the progress of PowerShell’s OneGet, and http://Chocolatey.org for a while now, and thought it was time to stick my toes in and create a package for public use. MDT seemed like a great start.

As you may already know OneGet is a new feature of PowerShell, included in Windows 10 and available through WMF 5.0 that allows for the installation of packages over the internet. Chocolatey is one of the back-end providers, with a great collection of apps ready for installation.

With the recent release of MDT 2013 Update 2, it seemed like a great opportunity to practice my packaging skills. Eventually I created a PowerShell script to auto generate the chocolatey package (not shown here), it would download the MSI files, and extract out the MSI Product Code and Checksum values. You can see the code generated on the Chocolatey MDT page.

Now to install MDT on Windows 10 (or Windows Server 2016), we can run the commands:

set-executionpolicy RemoteSigned; 
Install-Package -Name MDT -ProviderName Chocolatey `
-ForceBootstrap -Force -Verbose

How it works

First step we need to do on clean machine is to set the execution policy:

set-executionpolicy RemoteSigned

Chocolatey has some PowerShell scripts that run in the background, so we need to allow PowerShell to run these commands with the Set-ExecutionPolicy command. Most Powershell users run this command anyways, so it’s not that uncommon.

Then we install the package using the PowerShell 5.0 “Install-Package” cmdlet built into Windows 10:

Install-Package -Name MDT -ProviderName Chocolatey

We must specify the “-ProviderName Chocolatey” parameter the fist time we call Install-Package so the chocolatey Provider is installed, MDT is only known to Chocolatey at this time.

Install-Package will prompt us to confirm installation of the chocolatey provider, we can skip this with the -ForceBootStrap parameter. Additionally, Install-Package will also ask for confirmation before installing MDT, and we can sip the confirmation with the -Force Paramater.

I like to see what is going on the background, so I add the -verbose parameter, and my screen fills with yellow:

Capture

We can see Install-Package downloading MicrosoftDeploymentToolkit2013_x64.msi from the Microsoft web servers.

ADK

The Windows 10 ADK package has also been uploaded to Chocolatey, but hasn’t been officially approved yet, so when you try to run the “windows-ADK” package it will install the older Windows 8.1 version. We can force the Windows 10 ADK to install with a version parameter. Additionally, the default version of the “Windows-ADK” package does not install USMT, so to install everything we will need the “windows-adk-all” package (which is a lot of stuff, sorry).

install-package -ProviderName Chocolatey -Name Windows-ADK-All `
-force -Verbose -MinimumVersion 10.1.10586.0

More information:

https://chocolatey.org/packages/MDT

-k

MDT UberBug11 – Security vs Usability

(Haven’t posted in a while, been busy with my day job(s), travel, scripting, sleep :^).

Some of you have recently noticed that MDT 2013 Update 1 has changed the way it sets the permissions on the network shares when it creates them for the first time.

When you create a new deployment share in MDT, it will ask you what the network share should be, and the wizard will automatically create the necessary bindings for the share and your local path, including setting up the permissions. Super!

Capture

The old permissions used to be “Everyone” has full access, it’s now set to “CREATOR OWNER”. I was somewhat confused by this change, and seemed a bit arbitrary to me. I suspect that someone filed a bug against MDT thinking that locking down the deployment share in the most restrictive way possible would somehow be better, because you know… Security! Think of the security breaches at Home Depot, and Target. PKI. Oh the humanity.

Well, MDT deployment shares don’t really store sensitive information, if you *DO* store any sensitive information on a MDT deployment share, then you are doing it wrong.

But anyways, someone made the decision to lock down the share, although “CREATOR OWNER”, this is kind of confusing to me, only one user? Why not use local “Administrators” group, local administrators already have full access to the files. “CREATOR OWNER” might only give access to one of several local “Administrators”.

Additionally, “Everyone” isn’t really that bad, access files over the network, you are still limited to the “File” level permissions on each file, which are better IMHO, I can create a Logging directory with Create/Write permissions, and set everything else to “Everyone” Read, with “Administrators” “Full R/W”

See: https://keithga.wordpress.com/2015/01/06/security-week-locking-down-your-deployment/

Anyways, this new permissions change for MDT 2013 Update 1 hasn’t caused much of a problem, as most users can easily work around the issue by adding extra approved users to the share afterwards.

Bootstrap.ini

Got a question today about a missing DeployRoot varaiable in BootStrap.ini.

MDT uses BootStrap.ini in WinPE to remember where to find the DeploymentShare to do the heavy lifting.

Normally, when creating a new DeploymentShare, MDT will automatically update the DeployRoot variable in BootStrap.ini, however several users were observing that this was no longer getting updated.

I used my trusty ILSpy to disassemble “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Deployment Toolkit\Bin\Microsoft.BDD.PSSnapIn.dll” and look at the “Provider class”, what I observed is this code segment:

IniManager iniManager = new IniManager(deploymentPointSettings["UNCPath"] + "\\Control\\Bootstrap.ini");
iniManager.Write("Default", "DeployRoot", deploymentPointSettings["UNCPath"]);
asdfsdf

You can see here that MDT is attempting to open the Bootstrap.ini file and write the Path to the DeployRoot Value.

Note that MDT is trying to load the Bootstrap.ini file using the same “UNCPath”? I suspected that MDT was failing to open the file due to the restrictive “Creator Owner” permissions, Sure enough, I tried opening the file over the network and it failed. Found!

Work Around

After creating a new deployment share in MDT, be sure to go back and fix some of the defaults:

  • Change the permissions, Something more permissive like local “Adminsitrators”
  • Change the \\server\deploymentshare$\control\bootstrap.ini to include
    deployroot=\\server\deploymentshare$
  • <More to follow I as do more testing>

MDT Bug: 451130 (known issue)

-k

Deployment Gotcha – Get Windows 10 App doesn’t work with MDT

Did you know that you can download *.iso images of Windows 10 using the Get Windows 10 app?

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

It’s a tool that will allow you to download *.iso images for deployment.

The only problem is that it doesn’t actually download *.iso images, instead, it downloads *.esd images, which are highly compressed *.wim files, that are encrypted/encoded. The tool then decrypts/decodes the *.esd file into *.wim files, and constructs a *.iso image for use.

Additionally, the *.wim file is still a highly compressed *.esd file, so legacy tools that leverage the WIMGAPI library like imagex.exe don’t understand it.  Dism works fine.

C:\>"c:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Deployment Tools\amd64\DISM\imagex.exe" /info g:\getwin10\Windows\sources\install.wim
ImageX Tool for Windows
 Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp. All rights reserved.
 Version: 10.0.10011.16384

Error opening file [g:\getwin10\Windows\sources\install.wim].

An attempt was made to load a program with an incorrect format.
C:\>dism /get-wiminfo /wimfile:g:\getwin10\Windows\sources\install.wim

Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool
 Version: 6.3.9600.17031

Details for image : g:\getwin10\Windows\sources\install.wim
 Index : 1
 Name : Windows 10 Pro
 Description : Windows 10 Pro
 Size : 9,343,966,034 bytes

The operation completed successfully.

That means that you can’t import the images into MDT, because MDT uses the WIMGAPI libarary, and powershell commands might not work either.

I tried to export the *.wim file to another *.wim file, but DISM.exe doesn’t like doing that either.

As a work around you might be able to export the *.wim file to a *.vhd container, and re-capture back to *.wim file with normal compression.

Johan has been documenting esd to wim techniques on his blog.

http://deploymentresearch.com/Research/Post/399/How-to-REALLY-create-a-Windows-10-ISO-no-3rd-party-tools-needed

Otherwise, I hope the DISM team fixes this for TH2 :^) <hint> <hint>

 

 

MDT UberBug10 – Win10 OS Capture using SCCM is not supported

Got an interesting question yesterday about the Symantec Management Agent (SMA). Someone asked about running sysprep.exe under the system context, and someone else mentioned that execution of the sysprep.exe is *not* supported in the system context for Windows 10. I suspect this has to do with all the new fancy Metro/Modern/Universal apps that have plenty of junk that needs to be cleaned up by sysprep.

What is the System Context? Well normally when you run a program in Windows, you are running it under your user context. However If you go to the Task Manager, “Details” tab, you can see that there are dozens of background processes running, some with the user name “SYSTEM” these are specially designed *.exe programs that run in the background and perform numerous tasks.

task manager

The problem

There is no problem for MDT LiteTouch build and capture task sequences, however if you were to use SCCM to build and capture, now you may have a supportability problem, because SCCM runs tasks sequences in the system context. Whoops!

I have filed a bug on connect asking for a Supportability statement from Microsoft.

https://connect.microsoft.com/ConfigurationManagervnext/feedback/details/1721165

In the mean time, please continue to use MDT LiteTouch for building your Windows 10 images.  :^)

-k