How to prepare Reference Image Windows 10 1809 for SCCM

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In this article I wanna to show you how I prepare reference image for SCCM in my environment. This will allow you to avoid repeating the same job every time.

Course of action:

  1. Creating Virtual-machine.
  2. Install clean image on it.
  3. Install all updates, software and remove unnecessary.
  4. Exporting all customization of our system.
  5. Prepare Unattended.xml.
  6. Prepare winpe.iso and capture image.
  7. Add it to SCCM.

Lets start!

Virtual Machine.

First of all, we start to create Virtual-machine. To do that, we’ll need to install some virtualization platform. I prefer to use VMWare Workstation,  but you can use another software (for e.g. Hyper-V or VMWare Esxi or Virtualbox). I think it’s enough to create machine with such parametrs:

  • CPU – 1vCPU
  • RAM – 4GB
  • HDD – 30GB
  • SECOND HDD – 15GB

We mounting the second HDD for image that we will capture after. So, you should have smth like this :

Hardware Settings

At parametr CD/DVD (SATA) we mount our clean ISO image.

Customization.

So, starting to install Windows as usually, and when you achive the menu, as a picture bellow, press combination (CTRL+SHIFT+F3)  to start audit mode :

Before Audit Mode begins

Our OS loading in Audit mode with temporary Administrator profile. In this mode we should customize our image ( install applications, updates and configure some other features). Also we can close sysprep.

In Windows 10 1809, microsoft has fixed the issue, when we can install updates only by powershell. It means that you can do it as usual by graphical interface.

For my expierence, don’t install to your image many different software, cuz it can cause some problems. Moreover, you shouldn’t install VMWare tools(if you’re using VMWare workstation). It can conflict with drivers on your PC. But if you wanna the “shared folder” feature, you can install it, but don’t forget to remove it after.

Deleting builtin Appx.

Another key feature in our customization process is Deleting builtin Appx.  
You can use for that some powershell scripts in your task sequence, but I prefer to clean it trash in Audit mode manually by powershell cmdlet :


Get-AppxPackage -AllUsers | Out-GridView -PassThru | Remove-AppxPackage

This command allows us to view all packages at the system :

Applications

Simply hold down the Ctrl and choose which packages you want to remove and press “OK”.

StartLayout.

We can customize our StartLayout  in a simple way. Press “Start” and right click on shortcut and then press “Pin to start”. I did it in that way :

My StartLayout

After successfullcreating of your beautiful START😏, you need to export that in xml file, by powershell :

Export-StartLayout –path c:\YourLayout.xml

After that, I don’t want to add this file to image, cuz not everyone wants to use my customization. I just deployed it by gpo to target OU:

Clean Temporary Folders.

When our preparations are completed, we can clean all temporary folders:

  • C:\Temp
  • C:\Tmp
  • C:\Users\Administrator\AppData\Local\Temp
  • C:\Windows\Temp
  • C:\Windows\System32\DriverStore\Temp
  • C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download

Note: to avoid “monkey job”, when you creating each reference image, you should need to make copies of the prepared system. The best solution – backup HDD virtual machine. A backup of the system must be made before the audit is completed and OOBE exits, only in this case it will be possible to return and continue the configuration.

AnswerFile.

 Download the last ADK for windows 10 1809 from here : ADK 10 1809

ATTENTION :  In last version of ADK, Microsoft separate WinPE features from other, don’t forget to install both of them.

After install succesfully completed, open “Windows System Image Manager” and select your “clean WIM”. You can unrar your starting ISO and get install.wim from folder “sources” (at this step, no matter which image you’re select : clean or captured) :

Choose Wim

Next -> File ->New Answer File. Create the similar structure of answer file as a picture bellow and put into that options your values :

Structure of answer file.

Finally, validate it :

Validation

You can find more detailed information of each parameter here : AnswerFile parameters

But for me it’s more than enouth.
So, if no errors occured,transfer it to “C:\Windows” at our VM machine.

Prepare for Capture

After these operations, we need to prepare our Image for capture. To do that, start “cmd” from administrator. Then go to “C:\Windows\system32\sysprep”  and type the following command :

Sysprep.exe /generalize /oobe /shutdown /unattend:c:\Windows\OurAnswerFile.xml


These command delete all junk files, and prepare the windows for settings mode as we shown above.

WinPE creation

Go to your main machine. Open “Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment” as admin from ADK tools. Change path to :

“cd” to “C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\Assessment and Deployment Kit\Windows Preinstallation Environment


it depends on where your installed your WINPE tools

And run the following command:

Mounting recieved image  :


dism /Mount-Wim /WimFile:c:\winpe_x64\media\sources\boot.wim /index:1 /MountDir:c:\winpe_x64\mount  

At next step, we need to add  “ImageX.exe” to our winPE image, We can find it here :

Finally, do that steps:

Simply copy it to :
C:\winpe_x64\mount\Program Files\ImageX\imagex.exe
Unmout our Winpe :
dism /Unmount-Wim /MountDir:c:\winpe_x64\mount\ /Commit    
And create ISO from our WinPe :
Makewinpemedia /ISO c:\winpe_x64 c:\winpe_x64\winpe101809_x64.iso  

CAPTURE

Boot VM with recived iso :

Adding iso to boot

When we booting from our ISO, run “DISKPART” and determine the letter, from which drive you will be capture the system by  “list volume”. In my case, I will capture the image from C:\ to D:\  :

Watch the letters of drives

After that, go to the folder with the ImageX utility and run the command:

Wait about half an hour, and your image is done.

Last steps

Transfer your image to file share, where stored your files for SCCM. And add it to SCCM by console. Don’t forget to distribute the content to your DP.

Going to Software Library -> Operating System Images -> Add Operating System Image

Thus, we have prepared an image for subsequent installation to all PC of our environment. This process isn’t complicated, but have small nuances. I hope this article has helped you to understand them.

Takechico

Author: Takechico

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