Deploying XP with SCCM: Part 1 Building an XP Base Image

This post and subsequent posts will be a step by step on how to build a base XP image in SCCM. I will be outlining not necessarily pointing out every click. Hopefully others will find this helpful. This assumes an understanding of SCCM and uses what is refereed to as a “Thin Image Strategy”.

  1. Create a network access account, it only need be a domain user and its password should not expire. Add the account to the Computer Client Agent in the Client node under Site Settings
  2. Import XP SP2 as an operating system Install Package (Note most common issue here.
  3. Add a Distribution point to your new XP SP2 package created in step 1
  4. Create the XP SP2 sysprep package in SCCM
    1. The Deploy.cab included on the CD was not updated properly for XP SP2 so you must download a new version here.
    2. Create a package that points at the extracted CAB file for its source
    3. You do not need to create any programs for the package the build task sequence takes care of this
    4. Add the package to a DP that can be used during your build
  5. Create a package from definition for the Config Mgr Client (a definition is available called “Configuration Manager Client Upgrade” in the create package from definition wizard)
    1. Specify always obtain file from source directory
    2. Usually here I create a share at \\SCCMSERVER\SCCMClient pointing to \\SCCMSERVER\SMS_XXX\Client where XXX is the site code in order to make it easier for manual installs in the future. Note I also usually grant domain computers read access to the share and directory to prevent permissions problems in the future (Note this last permissions step may no longer be necessary in SCCM but I haven’t tested it yet)
    3. Update the ccmsetup command line properties accordingly. Extensive information about command line properties on TechNet here.
    4. Add the package to a DP that can be used during your build
  6. Create a “Build and capture a reference operating system image” task sequence
    1. Name the task sequence something appropriate like “Build Windows XP Gold Image”
    2. Select a boot image (I suggest x86 as it will run on all platforms, plus you will be booting from PXE so it really doesn’t matter)
    3. Select the Operating System Package you created in step 1
    4. Enter a product key
    5. Set the local admin password to blank
    6. Join a workgroup
    7. Select the Config Mgr client you created in step 4
    8. I generally don’t install updates in this phase but this is debatable. You must weigh time to deploy if you have to deploy a bunch of updates during deployment time vs. superseded updates and rebuilding your image more often.
    9. Don’t add any software to the base image
    10. Set your image properties
    11. Select a location to save the image and make sure you include the full path including the .wim extension
    12. Enter an account with rights to write to the share
    13. Finish up
  7. Change the task sequence to use “Quick Format”
    1. Right Click on the Task Sequence and choose Edit
    2. Select the “Partition Disk 0” step
    3. Choose properties on the Default (Primary) partition and check the “Quick Format” option
  8. Create a collection to which you will advertise the task sequence; I usually use _OSD\Base Builds
  9. Advertise the task sequence to the collection you created in step 7 as optional
    1. Right click Task sequence and choose advertise, follow the wizard
    2. Make sure you select the check box “Make this task sequence available to boot media and PXE”
    3. If you are in test and your boundaries are not defined make sure you select “When no local distribution points are available, use remote distribution point”
    4. Make sure you completed step 1
  10. Select a client to build your base image
    1. I suggest using a virtual platform to keep the drivers in the image at a minimum
    2. VMWare ESX is not a good candidate as a platform as it uses SCSI disks only to my knowledge. You do not want SCSI Mass storage drivers in your image, use MS Virtual Server / Virtual PC / Hyper-V or VMWare Server / Workstation
  11. Ensure that you have the network and mass storage drivers to boot the device on the boot image and in the driver store (If you have to do this in the future you must update the PXE and standard DPs)
  12. Add the appropriate boot images (x86 / x64) to the PXE and standard DPs
    1. If you don’t see a PXE DP it means you don’t have one :), get WDS installed and your PXE Service point
  13. Allow the client to boot from PXE
    1. If this client previously had an SCCM agent on it you just need to add the client to the collection you created in step 6
    2. If this is a new client and SCCM is pre-R2 add the client manually
      1. Add the client by right clicking the Computer Associations node under OSD and choosing “Import Computer Information”
      2. Enter the Name of the computer; I use XPBase
      3. Enter the MAC and or SMBIOS GUID
      4. Add the computer to the collection you created in step 7
    3. If you are using SCCM R2 you can enable unknown computer support on the PXE service point but choose wisely; option 10.2 may still be the best choice given the risk of accidentally formatting your CXOs laptop
  14. Boot the device up to PXE and choose your task sequence. In less than an hour you should have the start of a great XP Image

Adding Operating System Install Package Notes

Here is what I have seen as the most common issue when adding an operating system install package.

If you get the error “The specified directory does not contain a valid operating system or you do not have permission to access it. Please specify a valid source directory”. The most common cause is permissions. Remember that the SMS provider needs to access the share to import it which runs under the context of the computer account where the SMS provider runs. For most organizations this will be the computer account of the SCCM Primary Site server.

  • To correct this grant the computer account or a group that contains a computer account (the group you uses to grant access to the System Management container in AD would be great here) Read access to the share and directory.
  • Note that you will likely have to reboot the SMS provider computer if the computer account was not in the group you use above before it was last rebooted (the computer logs on to add during the boot process).