Upgrading to WDS ...

Tags: RIS, WDS, Windows Server

We had the strangest experience attempting to upgrade a customer's RIS server from Windows 2003 SP1 to SP2 this week.

This upgrade is supposed to be simple, straightforward ... and non-breaking. How little we knew!

Instead of the simple procedure that usually accompanies a Windows Service Pack, (I've installed hundreds of service packs, and the whole "MS is bad and Service Packs break everything" certainly isn't my point of view) we saw stack overflows occurring as a direct result of running the service pack installation. Obviously you don't see this level of detail - but you might see an Unhandled Exception in RISetup.EXE.

It turns out RISetup.exe is executed as part of the service pack installation - the service pack logs show attempt to execute the "risetup.exe -upgrade" command. Presumably this performs some SP2-specific setup.

In any case, after the error was cleared and the Service Pack setup completed, the server rebooted. WDS did not work and neither did RIS.

The solution:

  1. Download the Windows Automated Installation Kit (WAIK). You'll need to burn it to a DVD (as an image, not a file) or arrange to mount it with Daemon Tools, Alcohol 120% or your tool of choice.
  2. At the command prompt, run WDSUTIL /Uninitialize-Server.
  3. At the command prompt, run WDSUTIL /Initialize-Server /RemInst:{Path to your RemoteInstall Folder}
  4. Extract F1_WINPE.WIM from WINPE.CAB (it's in the root of the WAIK DVD) - this is the x86 boot image. If you want to add x64 support, extract F3_WINPE.WIM as well.
  5. Use the Windows Deployment Services console to import F1_WINPE.WIM as a Boot image (repeat with F3_WINPE.WIM for x64 support).
  6. Make sure that the Windows Deployment Server service is set to Automatic, and the Remote Installation service is set to Manual.
Now if only it was in the upgrade guide.