This is a guest post by Kyle Beckman of Trekker.net. Kyle works as a systems administrator in Higher Education near Atlanta, GA.
Whenever I’m deploying Operating Systems to computers using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), I always try to automate everything that can be automated. Any time I have to do something by hand, I’m using my time (that could possibly be spent on other things) and introducing the potential for human error.
Automatically Configure Screen Resolution
One of the quickest, easiest things you can automate in MDT is configuring screen resolution. By default, MDT automatically uses 1024×768 as the screen resolution for deployments. How many devices do you have that actually need that low of a screen resolution? I checked… I don’t have any physical devices that use a resolution that low.
To configure this setting during OS deployment, we can use the XResolution and YResolution settings in the CustomSettings.ini file located in $YourDeploymentShare\Control\CustomSettings.ini. Rather than setting these to typical screen resolutions, we can set them both to “1” so that Windows detects the screen resolution of the computer:
[Settings] Priority=Default [Default] XResolution=1 YResolution=1
Windows Experience Index
If you’re still deploying Windows 7 (and most of us still are), you also have to deal with Windows Aero and the Windows Experience Index. Most systems default to the Windows 7 Basic Theme at OS deploy time and need the Windows System Assessment to generate the Experience Index to enable Aero and the “glass” theme most people are used to using in Windows 7.
Fortunately, there’s a command line utility, winsat.exe, that we can use to run the Windows System Assessment during OS deploy time. I’ve tried running the “winsat formal” command several different ways; but, I’ve found that just using a simple batch file seems to consistently work the best for me.
First, we’ll need to create a text file named Generate_Windows_Experience_Index.bat with the following in it:
echo off winsat formal exit 0
Next, add this batch file as an application on your MDT server (hopefully you’ve done that before!). I also like to set the “Hide this application in the Deployment Wizard” since we’re going to have it run automatically when the OS deployment process runs.
Go to your Windows 7 Task Sequence and edit the Properties. Next, go to the State Restore section. Click Add > General > Install Application to add the script to the Task Sequence. Change the name field and set the “Install a single application” option. Click Browse and choose the Generate Windows Experience Index script application that you just created. Use the Up and Down buttons to place the application after the “Install Applications” task or in the “Custom Tasks” folder. When you’re done, it should look something like this:
During your Windows 7 Task Sequence, you should see a Command Prompt open and run the Windows System Assessment Tool to generate the Windows Experience Index:
If we check the Computer Properties after the OS deploy finishes, we should have a fully generated Windows Experience Index: