Automate the Process of Building and Capturing a Windows 10 1703 Reference Image: Automating using PowerShell

So far in this series we’ve populated our Deployment Share, created a Build and Capture Task Sequence and configured the CustomSettings.ini rules to skip the MDT Deployment Wizard to run our task sequence.

At this point, the CustomSettings.ini rules helps us to automate the process of running the task sequence and capturing the image but there’s still a few manual tasks of having to:

  • Create a Virtual Machine
  • Giving the VM’s network adapter the specific MAC address that we specified in the rules
  • Attaching the MDT Boot Image to the VM’s DVD drive
  • Turning on the VM

Only then does the MDT Deployment Wizard look up the MAC address in the VM and then processes the rules under a matching MAC address section in the CustomSettings.ini file.

So here we need a bit of help from PowerShell and also XML.

Download the zip file containing the PowerShell module and XML file

One of my goals of automating this process using PowerShell was that it should be extensible without having to change any PowerShell code. When Windows 10 1709 comes along later this year I don’t want to have to change anything in the code to account for that. Also, I don’t just create reference images for Windows 10 – I have other reference images to create for Windows 7 and 8.1 (with matching task sequences and rules in MDT). Taking inspiration from Mikael Nystrom’s image factory, I decided to have an XML file to hold data about the Windows reference images I want to create.

The XML file holds global data relating to each VM to create, such as the number of processors, RAM, Hyper-V Switch, ISO path, etc. It also holds data relating to every reference image I want to create, such as the name to give the VM and, most importantly, the Mac address to assign the VM.

This will, I hope, become clearer with an example of how to run the PowerShell function:

New-ReferenceImage –Image windows10-1703 –DestroyVM

Update: Click on the GIF for the high quality image. I didn’t realise WordPress will compress the image so much in the post that the text would be unreadable. Clicking on the image however displays the original high quality GIF.  Powershell 3

The value you provide in the –Image switch has to match a tag in the XML file (which is where the module gets its data from). PowerShell will match the value provided in the –Image switch with an <Image> tag in the XML file and then proceed to create the VM with the name and Mac address within the matching tag.

In the above example, this is how things work:

  1. PowerShell matches the value provided in –Image switch (windows10-1703) with the tag highlighted yellow below
  2. It creates a VM called “Reference Image – Windows 10 1703”
  3. Give the network adapter the MAC address 00:15:5D:00:0B:04. This is the same MAC address we have in our CustomSettings.ini rules.
  4. The MDT boot image is attached to the VM
  5. The VM fires up to boot straight into the MDT Deployment Wizard.
  6. The Deployment Wizard then looks up the VM’s MAC address and matches it with the MAC address provided in the CustomSettings.ini rules.
  7. The rules underneath the MAC address tells the Deployment Wizard to run our Build and Capture Task Sequence and create a captured WIM file at the end

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Quick Fix: Get-MDTComputer by Description Broken in the MDT PowerShell Module

The short story:

Launch SQL Server Management Studio, expand the MDT database > Views > right-click on dbo.ComputerSettings and click on “Design”, tick the “Description” column in the CI table in the View.

The long story:

During my experiments with using PowerShell to automate Windows imaging and deployment tasks I’ve been working with the MDT database module, provided by Michael Niehaus from Microsoft.

I was disappointed to find the Get-MDTComputer cmdlet is broken somewhat, as in you can’t retrieve a computer record from the database matching a description. This is what the error message says when you try:

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I thought I’d take a look at the Get-MDTComputer function in the PowerShell module and saw that the function was doing nothing more than building a SQL statement and querying the MDT database. Specifically, it was querying the “ComputerSettings” table as shown below:

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This, along with the error message we saw earlier mentioning “Invalid column name ‘Description'”, led me to fire up the SQL Server Management Studio to examine the “ComputerSettings” table, only to find there isn’t a table with that name but there was a “View” called “ComputerSettings”.

I right-clicked the “ComputerSettings” View and selected “Design” and immediately saw what the issue was here. It was apparent that the problem was that the “ComputerSettings” View didn’t include the “Description” column from the ComputerIdentity table.

So the solution is to tick the checkbox next to the “Description” column in the CI table in the View:

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And here you can see the Get-MDTComputer cmdlet working with the –Description parameter:

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