Two more tips for the blog. Actually, one is a tip and the other is the solution to a common problem I see!
During the execution of a task sequence in MDT (normally while creating an image, or deploying one) the computer will display the Installation Progress window in the centre of the screen, on top of all others (see here and here for tips on how to move this window out the way). By default, this window says “IT Organization” in bold letters; something like this:
By simply setting the variable _SMSTSOrgName in the customsettings.ini file, you can replace the text “IT Organization” with anything you like (as long as it is not longer than the width of the progress window!).
For example, the below customsettings.ini file will set the text to “Contoso – Windows Vista Deployment” in the progress window:
_SMSTSOrgName=Contoso – Windows Vista Deployment
If you wish to change the “Running: Lite Touch Installation” text on the window it is not so straightforward. You need to edit the line oEnvironment.Item("_SMSTSPackageName") = "Lite Touch Installation” (usually line number 599) in the script LiteTouch.wsf, replacing the text in the quotes with the text that you want to display. However, you should be aware that if you modify any of the out-of-the-box scripts that are provided with MDT you might no longer be eligible for any support from Microsoft; consult with your local Microsoft contact for more information.
These are one of the first questions I often get asked by customers who have existing MDT servers. While it might seem a rather basic and obvious configuration to some, a lot of people seem to have not found out how to change it and consequently believe that they have to maintain the default setting of “IT Organization”!
Recently, I was trying to use an external USB drive as a media deployment point to boot some computers in a laboratory. Nearly every machine booted fine, but a couple of them always failed with the same not-so-helpful error message:
Info: An unexpected error has occurred
A rather poor quality photo of the error taken with the camera in a mobile phone!
Click on the picture to enlarge it.
Failure always occurred at the same point, just as the computer was about to boot WinPE from the RAM-disk, after loading the WIM file into it from the USB device. Initially, it was suspected that there was a problem with the WinPE WIM file that MDT had generated, but running the “Update” command on the deployment point a couple of times did not solve it. Then, memory was suspected, but this proved to be a functioning correctly as well. What was also strange was that the same files booted correctly on other computers. To make matters worse, some computers of the same make and model booted correctly, while other ‘identical’ machines did not??!?!?!
In the end, the problem was solved by upgrading the BIOS on the computer to the latest version published by the manufacturer. It seems that the manufacturer had supplied all new computers but with different BIOS versions, within the same shipment; once the BIOS was upgraded to the newer version the computer booted to WinPE correctly. A word of warning though, you should consult with the manufacturer/hardware supplier before performing any BIOS upgrades. And, don’t forget the adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. From experience, upgrading the BIOS on a machine that does not exhibit any problems may break something that you have already working.
Whilst I had seen the problem before, I never really was able to investigate it because the client always just gave me a new computer and took the old one away. So, thanks to a colleague of mine, David Marín, for solving this (after banging his head against the monitor for quite some time trying to work out what was going on!)
This post was contributed by Daniel Oxley a consultant with Microsoft Services, Spain