Adding Drivers to WDS Server

Adding Drivers to WDS Server

A boot image will require drivers to use the network card (NIC) in the computer that is being prepared. It may also need a storage controller driver. Like with Windows 7, Windows PE will have a number of included drivers that can be loaded as required. You may find that many older machines will not require you to add any drivers. However, you may find that you need to use newer drivers to resolve driver fault issues, or to provide support for newer devices that do not already have a driver included with Windows PE. The drivers that you import here will also be provided to the device installation process during the deployment of an installation image.

There are some very good news here. There is no need to use Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM) for this. You can do all of your driver management in the WDS console (this functionality has been added to WDS in Windows Server 2008 R2).

You will need to download your drivers and extract them. The latter can sometimes require a little bit of work. For example, some manufacturers prefer to include drivers in a executable that is not extractable using normal means. You can run the installer program, find where the files are extracted by the installer, and copy them for later use. You need to find the folder that contains the Windows 7 drivers as well as the SYS and INF files.

Launch the WDS console and browse to the Drivers in the navigation pane. Right-click on the Drivers and select Add Driver Package to add new drivers to the WDS server. This will launch the Add Driver Package Wizard, as shown in the following figures:

Note 1: WDS refers to a device driver as a driver package.

Note 2: This functionality is only available when you are installing images of the following operating systems: Windows Vista with SP1, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2.

You have two ways to specify driver packages in this wizard:

Select Driver Packages From An .inf File --> Select this option if you want to add a single driver package to WDS. You will click Browse and navigate to the location where the driver package is located. This option is useful if you want to update a single driver package.

Select All Driver Packages From A Folder --> This is the option you will use when you want to do a bulk import of driver packages. You click the Browse button and navigate to a folder where the driver packages are located. This option is useful when you are adding a new model of supported computer in the organization or when you are first setting up WDS.

The following figure shows the Available Driver Packages screen in the Add Driver Package Wizard. This screen presents every driver that was found in the chosen folder. You can decide to exclude some drivers by clearing the check boxes beside them. View detailed information about a specific driver by double-clicking on it in the Package Details box.

The drivers will be imported after a Summery screen, as you can see in the following figures:

After the import you have the option to add the driver packages to a driver group. Driver groups are used in WDS to organize the driver packages and to make it easier to work with large numbers of them. Drivers groups are also used to make driver packages available for installation. The following figure shows the Driver Groups screen, which has three options:

Select An Existing Driver Group --> You can add the drivers to an existing driver group, such as the default DriverGroup1 or any other driver group that you have previously created.

Create A New Driver Group Named --> You can specify the name of a new driver group to be created. The new driver packages will be added to this new driver group.

Do Not Put The Driver Packages In A Driver Group At This Time --> The final option is self-explanatory. You might have added many drivers that you want to put into many different driver groups. You can do that at a later point in the WDS console. You will need to add the driver packages to a group at some point so that they can be made available for installation.

The final screen in this wizard asks if you want to associate any filters with this driver group to control which machines the associated driver packages will be attempted to be installed on. You can clear the check box to skip this step.

It is always possible to edit the filters at a later point by editing the properties of the driver group.

Please consider this scenario: you make all packages available to all clients (that is, you do not add filters to your driver groups), and you configure the groups so that only those packages that match the hardware on the computer will be installed. This is the simplest scenario to configure, and most companies should try this scenario first. However, if you encounter problems because incompatible packages are installed simultaneously on a computer (for example, if you have computers that cannot boot, or hardware that does not work correctly), then you will need to add filters to your driver groups.

The following figure shows the Filters tab of the drivers group. This will automatically appear if you do decide to edit the filters, as is the default option in the previous screen. These filters will be used to check if the hardware in question is appropriate for these driver packages. For example, you may have OEM-specific drivers from a manufacturer and you want to ensure that the driver packages are not accidentally installed on another brand of machine, thus causing a support issue.

This means that even though you might have a huge library of drivers in WDS, you can maintain very tight control in how they are automatically installed on machines.

You can see the added driver packages and two new driver groups that were added in the following figure:

Driver packages are associated with driver groups rather than being contained within them. You can see all driver packages in the All Packages in the WDS console.

You can safely delete a driver group without deleting the associated driver packages. It is possible to create more driver groups and even associate a driver package with more than one driver group.

For example, you might choose to create driver groups like the following:

  • Architecture, such as 320bit and 64-bit
  • Vendor, such as HP or Dell
  • Type, such as network or storage
Added driver packages can be enabled, disabled (making them unavailable for installation), and deleted.

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