Using the MDT Database

I turned to the MDT database when I needed greater control over the customizations I wanted to make to my target computers, like setting the hostname, IP address, screen resolution, etc. As it turned out, the MDT database is designed for just that. It’s also a more flexible solution compared to using the Customsettings.ini file for the more complex customizations.

With the MDT database you can apply different customizations for different group of computers based on the computer’s hardware such as Mac address, its physical location, or manufacturer and model. In this post we’ll first take a look at how to apply customizations to specific computers (by identifying them using their Mac address or UUID) and also to a group of computers by identifying them by their manufacturer and model.

Applying customizations to specific, individual computers

If you wanted to apply customizations to specific computers in your environment, you need to create a Computer record in your MDT database and specify one of the following to uniquely identify the computers in question:

  • Asset tag
  • Serial number
  • Mac address
  • UUID

You can obtain this information from your target computer’s BIOS. A Mac address generally works well unless the target computer has two NIC’s, in which case you will need to identify the computer using one of the other uniquely identifiers listed above. For the uninitiated, a UUID is a set of 36 hexadecimal characters collectively known as a Universal Unique Identifier used to unique identify a computer.

Here’s how this works. The first thing to do is to create a Computer record in your MDT database. Launch Deployment Workbench, expand the deployment share and navigate to and expand Database in the navigation pane.

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Right-click on Computer and select New, and you will see the following Properties window.

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Enter your choice of unique identifier along with a description of this particular computer in the Identity tab. Mac addresses must be separated by colons and UUID’s must be entered in the exact format.

The customization settings are entered in the Details tab. If you wanted to give this particular computer a unique hostname, for example, look for the OSDComputer settings under Identification and enter a hostname in the adjacent field.

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Any customization settings you enter here will be applied at deploy time to your specified target computer.

Applying customizations to a group or type of computer based on their Manufacturer and Model

To be able to target a particular manufacturer and/or model of computers you need to create a Make and Model record in the MDT database and provide the Manufacturer and Model name of the targeted computers. The MDT database will use this to identify the computers at deploy time and apply the customizations.

The first thing to do here is to find out the exact make and model of the targeted group of computer(s) you want to apply the customizations to. To make sure you get this exactly right you must obtain the manufacturer and model by running the following WMIC query on the target computer

WMIC csproduct GET Vendor,Name

In this query Vendor refers to the make and Name refers to the model of the computer. As an example, the results of this query in the screenshot below shows the make as Dell Inc. and model as Inspiron N5050.

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Bear in mind that you must copy the manufacturer and model exactly as shown, right down to the full stop.

On the Deployment Workbench right-click on Make and Model and select New. A Properties window will come up as shown here:

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Enter the Make and Model fields in the Identity tab, making sure you copy the vendor and name values returned from the WMIC query on your target computer correctly.

Again, you enter your customization settings in the Details tab.

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You could, for example, set all Dell Inspiron N5050 laptops to have a specific screen resolution at deploy time.

Of course, this is only the basics of what’s capable with the MDT database. The level of complexity and the customizations you choose to make will depend on your deployment environment. I’m still exploring the MDT database and hope to write more on this in the future.

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