Arthur and an Introduction to Windows Deployment Services

Once upon a time, there was a young computer operator named Arthur.

Now, Arthur was a good lad, and dedicated to the betterment of the Kingdom of Network. However, each season, when the new systems came in, Arthur had to leave behind his studies and prepare the new systems for the fields of Network.

This required Arthur to remove or reconfigure the pre-installed software. Then, he would sit in front of a monitor and keyboard and put in a floppy disk to boot the system, and then he would feed CDs to the systems one at a time until the system had a shiny new operating system.

Along the way, Arthur would type in the settings and configuration required to make the operating system work properly in the fields of Network.

If he was lucky, he could hook up three or four systems at a time and while one system was working on a CD, he could be feeding another a different CD, and configuring another. When he was done, he would move on to feeding the systems the CDs necessary to install the software that the systems would need to perform their functions.

Still, these were not bad times for Arthur. The times he dreaded though were when the King would return from the Lands of Microsoft having been told the stories of glory and power that could be bestowed upon them all if they would be so bold as to put newer, better, faster, operating systems on the computers of Network.

In those times, Arthur would stride forth into the fields and disappear for days or weeks at a time, once again feeding the systems of Network a pile of CDs.

These times proved to be a huge time suck for the young Arthur, for he had far better things to do in service of the Kingdom. Still, the task was important, and Arthur persevered.

Arthur also developed faster ways of completing his tasks. From the witches in the Ghost Swamp he returned with a way to clone entire systems and use those cloned images to install new ones.

If done properly, it could speed up the process of installing and upgrading. But, the challenge was great, for each kind of system required its own image, and getting the first image right was often a daunting challenge in itself.

So, it was not with great joy that Arthur heard the news that the King had decreed that the Network was to deploy the latest magical system from the Lands of Microsoft and move into a new age with systems bearing the Windows Server 2008 banner.

But, Arthur’s heart was lifted when he heard of a strange prophecy. It proclaimed that systems could be installed quickly across the entire network, even bare metal systems with no software installed. And, so Arthur set out to find the key to the prophecy.

Arthur and Windows Deployment Services (WDS)

Arthur was no fool. He had heard great promises before. Still, Arthur knew that to remove, once and for all, the burden of eternal systems installations was a task worth undertaking.

Arthur set off on his long journey, sailing away to find the answers. At long last, Arthur came to the Shores of Marketing Hype.

The Shores were a dangerous place for an unseasoned computer professional to tread for they were surrounded by jagged rocks inhabited by creatures called Salespeople.

There was some debate as to whether Salespeople were inherently evil, or just corrupted by their three-martini marketing lunches. Either way, their siren song of easy installations, painless upgrades, and newer, faster, features had left many a ship smashed upon the rocky shore.

But, Arthur was no computer intern and he kept his grip on firmly on the wheel as he navigated his mighty ship, skeptically refusing to commit to any of the Siren’s pitches until he landed on the beaches.

Once on the island of Windows Deployment Services, known far and wide by the letters, WDS, Arthur set off to discover its secrets.

As he left the beach, he plunged into a dark forest. In a clearing he met a talking chipmunk. Apparently, the chipmunk had recently been yelled at by a talking llama.

Arthur resisted the urge to find the talking llama and instead listed to chipmunk. As a reward, the chipmunk told Arthur that the keys to WDS lie in the installation mechanisms of the past.

He told Arthur that WDS was a replacement for an older system called Remote Installation Services (RIS). The chipmunk also told Arthur that the next piece of WDS lie upon a hilltop called PXE.

Arthur thanked the chipmunk and headed up the hillside. At the top, Arthur found a stone monument left by non-ancient peoples. It proclaimed that PXE stood for Pre-boot Execution Environment.

Arthur found himself struggling with a mighty urge to chip into the stone tablet, crossing out the X and putting up an E, because after all, execution starts with an E even if it sounds like X. But, Arthur had no time for such things.

The rest of the tablet described PXE as a basic set of operating instructions for a system. This rudimentary operating system would do very little, but what it could do was important.

For the PXE could make a computer boot and connect to the network whereby it could use something called TFTP which according to ancient prophecy could be used to summon an Operating System from the ivory towers known as the Network Servers.

Emboldened, Arthur set off in search of the fabled TFTP.

Near the bottom of the other side of the hill, Arthur heard a ferocious noise. He turned to see a mighty beast with many heads. The beast was the Hydra of System Images.

Arthur pulled his trusty computer operator sword and engaged the Hydra. He cut off a head by creating a new systems image. But, two heads grew back in its place because now, Arthur had to create a new image for every single kind of system, and then Arthur had to manage and update all of those images.

Realizing he could not defeat the Hydra this way, Arthur searched about for another option.

There, shining in the sun was a server. This was no ordinary server, for it had installed upon it a Trivial File Transfer Protocol Server.

Arthur discovered that if he could somehow pull the images from this server, then he could keep them all in one place which would greatly simplify their management. With an easily managed collection of images, he could then create exactly what he needed and deploy them throughout Network.

Arthur seized upon the system and slew the Hydra. As he wiped the sweat from his brow, Arthur noticed something. Trivial File Transfer Protocol was TFTP! He had another piece of the WDS puzzle.

Now, all Arthur needed was a way to get WDS to use his images. As he headed back for his ship, a bolt of lightning shot from the sky, blasting his ship into a million pieces. Arthur mourned for his images, because all of his work had been in vain.

Or had it?

Upon a small outcropping of rocks, Arthur saw a beautiful maiden chained to a rock. Apparently something called a Kracken was on its way to eat her. Arthur wished her good luck with that, and prepared to go on his way when the maiden made him an offer.

She would show Arthur a new way to make system images if he would just help her with the chain. Arthur freed the maiden, and she told him of a glorious system in which images were not sector-based, but rather file-based which would make the images independent of the hardware they were created on.

Even better, each file would be stored in the image only once no matter how many times is was stored on the system. That way, the images could be much smaller.

An overjoyed Arthur quickly built a shaky new boat and headed for home with his treasure, a new wonderful way to deploy systems across the whole of Network.